QLD Winning Team  : Stae of Origin Rugby League, GAME 3 - NSW v QLD at ANZ Stadium Wednesday the 17th of July 2013. Digital Image by Grant Trouville © nrlphotos.com

Storm connection key to Maroon streak

The Maroons have been an unstoppable force that has enjoyed eight dominant years in State of Origin, but it is their purple tinge that has been a constant throughout their success.

In 22 of the last 24 Origin games there have been at least three Melbourne Storm players named in the Queensland starting side. This includes Game One of the 2008 series in which six Melbourne players started for the Maroons.

In fact over these past eight series, Storm players have notched a combined 88 games of Origin experience for Queensland. 

Many of these games have been notched by the Maroons' current day Melbourne heroes, affectionately known as the Big Three.

Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk have played a combined 64 games for Queensland.

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Slater has provided highlight after highlight for the game's biggest rivalry and his record of nine tries from 22 Origin games is a testament to that.

Current Queensland captain Cameron Smith has assumed the reins since taking over from Darren Lockyer in 2012 and with 30 games under his belt will be his state's most experienced player when he leads the Maroons out for Game One.

Cooper Cronk has started at halfback in the past two series after spending the previous two on the bench, paying his dues for the legend of Lockyer.

However the fact that Queensland has not skipped a beat in its halves transition is a key reason behind its eight straight series wins.

Despite the Storm's 88 games of combined experience with Queensland it is a relatively different story for NSW in these past eight years.

In the same time span, Melbourne players have played just 25 games for NSW.

Eight of those were by Ryan Hoffman, who started every game at second-row for the Blues last year.

Last series Hoffman also became the first Storm player to start a game for NSW since 2008.

Perhaps a touch of irony to this is that in all eight of those years Melbourne has been coached by a New South Welshmen.

Craig Bellamy in fact coached against his own Storm/Maroon players between 2008-2010, though to no avail.

There have been countless Maroon heroes who have featured prominently in their unprecedented period of success from sides across the NRL. But this Victorian club has provided Maroons fans with many of its heroes and helped them to enjoy the dominance over the state that separates them.

This article first appeared on NRL.com. View the story here.