The Holden State of Origin series returns to Melbourne in June – 21 years after the two coaches, Laurie Daley (NSW) and Mal Meninga (Queensland), captained their sides in the first Origin match ever held at the MCG.
The 2015 Origin series was today launched in Melbourne by NRL CEO Dave Smith and Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Major Events and Regional Victoria, Danielle Green MP. They were accompanied by Daley and incumbent captains Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen.
Mr Smith said Origin had become the biggest sporting brand in Australia.
And he said the return to the MCG this year meant fans would be able to see Origin in three States – Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
"State of Origin is one of sport's greatest rivalries. It played to massive crowds in all three matches last year and took out the top two television ratings spots for the year," he said.
"When Origin was first played at the MCG, it attracted a crowd of more than 87,000 fans in 1994 – which was the highest crowd for a Rugby League match in Australia.
"Origin now reaches more than eight million unique fans on social media – and that number is growing all the time.
"So the scene is set for an Origin series which will be taken to millions of fans across the country and around the globe."
Mr Smith said the decision to stage a match at the MCG was part of the NRL’s push to keep growing the game.
Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Minister for Sport and Minister for Veterans John Eren said: "It's fitting that one of our nation's most intense rivalries will be played at Australia's home of sport, the great MCG.
"The Andrews Labor Government is delighted that Victorians will get a chance to witness the passion and pride on the line when New South Wales and Queensland go to war.
"The MCG is as good a battleground as any renowned sports venue, and an event as significant as a State of Origin game promises to be an outstanding occasion with a memorable atmosphere."
Mr Eren said Origin was also another chance to showcase Victoria to the rest of Australia and beyond.
Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga said it would be a privilege for their teams to play in front of a massive crowd at the MCG.
"Last year was an incredible experience for our squad but this is a new series with new challenges," Daley said.
"We aim to show Melbourne why State of Origin is one of the greatest sporting events in the world."
Meninga said both teams would relish the prospect of playing to huge crowds at the MCG, ANZ Stadium and Suncorp Stadium.
"State of Origin series are always highlights of the year, but this year’s series is shaping up as something really special," he said.
NSW holds the Origin title after breaking eight years of Queensland dominance last year.
Tickets for Game Three at Suncorp Stadium went on sale at 10am (AEDT) today. Tickets for Games One and Two are already on sale.
Today's launch comes ahead of Melbourne Storm's first home game of the season this Saturday night, against Cronulla.
2015 Holden State of Origin Series
Game I – ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Wednesday, 27 May
Game II – Melbourne Cricket Ground, Wednesday, 17 June
Game III – Suncorp Stadium, Wednesday, 8 July