Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin stand alone weekend





It’s a rare weekend for rugby league with the NRL opting for a stand alone State of Origin match on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium following on from the one-off women’s State of Origin clash tomorrow night at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Both matches will be available live on free-to-air television. Well played, I say.


It’s a case of do or die in both matches. The women’s clash is still a one-off at this level and so both teams have everything to play for. In Game 2 of the men’s series, Queensland has to somehow find a way back from their thrashing in the first encounter to keep the 2021 series alive.


Rain threatens to dampen the women’s clash but I still expect this to be an exciting game. The Maroons will be defending their 2020 title won at the same ground late last year. What a game that was! They go into this year’s game with a settled backline balanced by a few changes up front. If they are passed fit, expect the experienced Tallisha Harden and Rona Peters to come into the final 17 for Queensland to bolster their forward strength. Remember those crunching tackles by Peters last time around?


The Maroons will base their game around their spine which features Ali Brigginshaw, Zahara Temara, Tarryn Aitken and Tamika Upton, all seasoned competitors and game-breakers in their own right. But they, in turn, will rely on the likes of Chelsea Lenarduzzi, Tamzin Gary and Shannon Mato to build a solid platform up front. Out wide, Queensland has the pace and competitiveness of Lauren Brown, Karina Brown and Julia Robinson to cause NSW all sorts of problems.


But the Blues are a strong combination as well. Up front they boast the likes Simaima Taufa, Millie Boyle, Kezie Apps and Hannah Southwell, a formidable, mobile pack. Maddie Studdon makes a welcome return at half-back. NSW erred last year by choosing Jessica Sergis out of position and it’s good to see her back where she belongs at centre alongside Isabelle Kelly. Throw in Tiana Penitani and Botille Vette-Welsh at the back and you have attacking weapons galore.


So it should be a cracker! I expect Queensland to want to play it in close and tight as much as possible before Brigginshaw, Aiken or Upton spy gaps to unleash counterattacks against a retreating defence. I expect NSW to play a more expansive, up-tempo game to attack through the wide running of Apps, their powerful centre combination and Vette-Welsh. Just watch out for the clash of the two fullbacks who had an incredible battle last year. If it’s close, I favour Queensland but if the margin is 7+, then I expect to see NSW in front at the final siren.


No matter which way it unfolds, the adjudication of the game will be in the safe and most capable hands of experienced referee, Belinda Sharpe.


Game 2 of the men’s 2021 series could be anything from a stirring Queensland revival to a repeat of the one-sided clash in Townsville a fortnight ago – how’s that for a broad spectrum of possibilities?


The major factor in Queensland’s favour is the venue, Suncorp Stadium, where NSW has an indifferent record in recent years. Otherwise the Maroons will rely on most of the same players who were torn apart in Game 1. Josh Papalii makes a welcome return up front and, hopefully, Christian Welch will be able to play a full match after suffering a head knock early in Game 1. Dane Gagai is fully fit after playing the first match half crook. All eyes will be on 18-year-old debutant Reece Walsh, the very talented but raw rookie entrusted with the key No. 1 jersey. The Maroons will also be looking for a much better showing from the likes of Cameron Munster and David Fifita who were blanketed last time out.


The Blues, by comparison, will go into this game full of confidence with a settled side, a coach in overdrive and a series win in the offing. They’ve lost Jake Trbojevic but gain Angus Crichton – situation even. The mobility and power of their forwards won the middle ground in Game 1 to unleash Cleary, Luai, Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic, each and every one a match winner. Such was their dominance that they could afford to have James Tedesco play a solid but comparatively quiet game – scary!


I love Queensland and I bleed maroon; my general wellbeing for these 6 weeks in midyear revolves far too much around the result of the three Origin matches; beating NSW at anything (but especially Origin) is the closest thing to heaven this side of eternity. But I’m afraid I can’t see our boys achieving a 45-point turnaround in 18 days.




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About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Jarrod_L says

    Well the women got it done for us, IJH…I’m hoping against hope (and all rational judgement) that the men can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Queenslander!

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