State of Origin | Game 1 | NRL | 2021

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Ground: Townsville
Markets c/ Topsport
To Win: QLD $2.55 NSW $1.54
Line Handicap NSW -4.5
42.5 Total Points


Key factor. QLD have won 12 of the last 14 contests when played on their home turf, obviously those 14 were all played at Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park Brisbane). But a full Townsville stadium with 95% as QLDer’s cheering on strongly their team will again be a major advantage.

Interesting to also add to this that the last 14 clashes have results in 7 wins each, so any advantage (like home ground) is a significant advantage.


I am certainly disappointed that Wayne Bennett was not retained, regardless of him having club commitments. For mine his involvement last year made the Origin series, he pulled together a patchwork team list had them come from behind 0-10 at half time to win game 1, be flogged in game 2 in Sydney and then achieve the near impossible in winning when long odds outsiders in the decider in game 3 in Brisbane. In the process I thought he’d taken up residence renting a large space in Fittler and the NSW player’s head, more the pity that this battle doesn’t continue this year!

Green takes over the QLD team and brings in a range of team changes, while a successful club coach (and premiership winner) this is his first stint in a direct Origin role.

Fittler maintains his role with NSW, and as very warm favs once again into game one (and as the likely series winner).

Team Changes

For one reason or another both teams have many changes to their team list and final squads that finished the series late last year.

QLD are with out the selected Ponga (injury), Papalii and Friend and so have 7 changes. Munster and Grant return off injury and so potentially light on match fitness, but each game changers. Holmes comes in at #1. I like the stability of the same two centres who each did outstanding jobs last series, and then the quality combination of Munster and Cherry-Evans and now Grant who stood out like a shinning beacon in game 3. They have again go with a workman pack of forwards who’ll just be asked to roll their sleeves up and get the job done.

NSW have also have 7 changes, most notably losing their two backrowers in Crichton and Frizelle and Radley (on suspension, who would have been picked). Luai comes in at #6, To’o on a wing. Some of the forward line up looks surprising, Murray whose best is as a middle #13 moves to an edge, Sims on the other edge and Hass and Paulo to rotate with the starters in Daniel Safiti and Jake Trbojevic.  There has to be some risk in looking for a number of players to shine at this level in positions not normally their strong suite, and or if in looking or mobility in the middle is negated by not having enough work rate? An interesting watch.  

Game Style and Points?

The opening game in all but ever series each year is normally a tough even contest low on total points as each team attempt to have a look at each other, sort each other out and play a tight game style. Of the last 10 series openers not one has breached 34 points; in 6 of the last 9 three game series the opening game has been the lowest scoring total and even with a number of the new rules (6 agains) in play in game 1 in November last year in Adelaide this game only delivered 34 points.

And, just to underline the point of the general tightness of each opening game, 5 of the last 7 openers (game 1) have all resulted in a final margin between the two teams of 4 points or less. And so the market makers now have the line here at 4.5

Gerard Sutton has been given the role in the middle, a very experienced referee but his game results overall longer term seem to lean toward tighter low scoring results.

My expectation is that QLD look to play what has always worked so well for them, a focus on lots of work rate and defence, hang in, hang in and hang in some more and when given a chance let the key individuals like Munster, Cherry-Evans and Grant look to create something and or take any half chance they can. I also expect QLD will be more than happy to accommodate a more open style of game and ball movement if that is where this game style heads (which is what I expect).

I am sure NSW will want to play some footy and really look to throw some attack and ball movement at QLD, such is Fittler’s positive way (aka Homebush game two last year). use your strike, create and take opportunity, build a points and scoreboard advantage and then look to rub it in. But if it does not stick and or like the second half of game 1 last year (when QLD came from down 0-10 to win) and QLD keep their error rate low and keep kicking you into your corners NSW can be prone to some rush of blood and error and all but roll out the red carpet of invitation to Munster and co.

The key #9, 7 and 6 hold the outcome here, no different to most games at this level. Munster and Grant and with Cherry-Evans not far behind led QLD to victory in game 3 last year, the experience of having now done so will hold them in good stead here. The quality club combination of Cleary and Luai needs to now stand up at Origin level for NSW to win, Cook will also need some room and then these two good ball for their strike on either edge in Mitchell or Trbojevic to impact. NSW should have the added benefit of another star at #1 in Tedesco, as suggested if Cleary and Luai get some room and provide some quality ball to their back 5 then NSW look hard to hold out.

I am also sure that given the rule changes of this season (more 6 agains, more fatigue and high paced game play) at then this elite Origin level we are going to see plenty of ball movement and attack. Couple this with the possibility of any head contact sin bins and either team having a period one down, at this level the player maker smarts and ball play should capatilise and turn any overlaps or man down advantage into more points (and fast play). I am convinced 42.5 is too low, even for a game 1 contest that historically is always low scoring, mid to high 40’s certainly looks the total points mark for mine.


Small lean to NSW, they have strike power but their play style brings with it plenty of risk. I am keen thought on the points over 42.5 as my main bet and have provided a few extra exotic plays here below for those interested.

Tip: NSW

Best Plays for Charity Pass It On Clothing

Game total points over 42.5

Anytime Try Addo Carr

Same Game Multi – points over 42.5 into Addo-Carr anytime try into Toó anytime try $4.90

Same Game Multi players – if you like this option head to Topsport where you will achieve the best same game multi prices available anywhere (compare the odds, you’ll see the difference!).

Origin 1 – Podcast – Links Here!

Gerard Condon Jimmy Smith and Tristan Merlehan discuss all the angles, key stats and some potential betting plays for Game 1

Whooshkaa > Link > HERE

Spotify > Link > HERE

Apple > Link > HERE

If you love you NRL then subscribe for the weekly NRL Market Watch Podcast, full previews every week for all the round by round action!


Having coached at a senior level for 16 years including 3 years on the coaching staff of an NRL club Gerard Condon is a long term avid student of the game. He’s coached sides to win titles at a senior level, run the football arm of a successful district club, managed professional players and worked in various development roles, so it’s fair to say the game of Rugby League is certainly in his blood and supports an experienced and unique offering.

Mr G’s NRL previews and betting tips combine this knowledge and ‘read’ of the current weekly form with a statistical and betting analysis to provide his followers with a unique and successful approach. He spends hours each week watching and reviewing each and every game assessing the strengths and weakness of the form to then weigh against that of the betting markets. His previews and betting tips have been published on the internet via two sports forums for 7 years prior to his public offering through Reading The Play. Full details on our NRL offering here

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