The highlight of the rugby league calendar returns, with the game's best ready to resume hostilities.
As is the case almost every year the Blues are expected to start favourite, but that matters little once the whistle is blown.
With doubts remaining over some key Maroons players, the experts at NRL.com have had their say on who they think will emerge victorious in the first Origin match played in Townsville.
Experts' view - Who'll win Origin I
On the back of last year's series win, Queensland should get another win. NSW seem to have the form team on paper but as long as we can get our big game players on the field the spring can carry them to a win. Maroons by 10
The schoolboy discipline that built an NRL superstar
Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)
NSW's back five will be amazing, just as they all have been in club football so far this year. Add to that the great combinations Nathan Cleary will have with both Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo. Blues by 4
They've got points in the backline and their forwards will match it with the Maroons pack. If Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary get the chance to show what they can do NSW will win. Blues by 8
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers great)
The X-factor of the NSW backline will prove the difference. Tedesco, Trbojevic, To'o, Addo-Carr and Latrell are all match-winners. If they click NSW will have plenty of points in them. Blues by 10
The game may have moved to Queensland but NSW will still win. With the best halves pairing in the competition at the core of the team, NSW ooze talent in the spine. Their forwards will lead the way. Blues by 8
Sims sizes up Blues enforcer role
This is one of the most exciting NSW teams I can recall, with strike out wide, ball-playing forwards and the NRL’s form halves combination calling the shots. Brad Fittler has also ensured the Blues have enough versatility to cover for the loss of any player due to injury or being sin-binned. Blues by 14
The Townsville atmosphere will be intense - this may be the only time Origin ever comes to northern Queensland and the locals will be getting in enough jeering to last a lifetime. A lot will depend on Cameron Munster's availability but he looks like he'll play and he proved last year he has the gravitas to lead Queensland to victory. Maroons by 8
A dry Townsville track will suit the Blues, who have gone with a very up-tempo forward pack and a bench that looks far more dangerous than the Maroons. Blues by 8.
Arrow hopes for Origin leniency
Queensland won last year and they have a stronger looking side this year - provided Munster and Grant are both play. Despite the absence of Josh Papalii they look to have an advantage in the forwards and that's where Origin matches are won and lost. Maroons by 4
The Blues simply have Queensland covered for points across the park with ball-playing ability right throughout the forward pack and strike weapons Trbojevic, Mitchell and Tedesco to capitalise out wide. Blues by 8
NSW have a superior backline, so a dry track in Townsville helps their cause. The Blues attack is spearheaded by the game’s best player Nathan Cleary and his combination with Panthers Jarome Luai, Isaah Yeo and Brian To’o will see NSW reap the rewards. Blues by 8
A wave of injuries and suspensions affecting both squads make this super tough to pick but with the in-form Panthers playmaking trio of Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo calling the shots, NSW should get the job done. Blues by 10
Murray judiciary cloud turns to a clear Blue sky
Brad Fittler has analysed exactly where the Blues fell short last year and picked a squad to rectify that. Skill doesn’t always come out on top - as we saw in 2020 - but NSW should have too much strike-power. Blues by 12
The Blues are deserved favourites but there are a lot of reasons to suspect this one will be close. NSW have the better team on paper but that was the case last year and they lost. I’ll tip the Penrith combination to prove the difference. Blues by 1
The Panthers are the NRL’s hottest team by a hundred miles and the presence of five of their big guns gives NSW a clear advantage in terms of confidence and combinations. The return of Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic makes NSW far more potent than they were in 2020. Blues by 10
Alexa (Your Trusted Voice Assistant and Footy Fan)
It’s always close when the cockroaches and cane toads clash, but I think NSW have a stronger spine this year. If you have an Alexa-enabled device, try saying, “Alexa, who will win the State of Origin?” If you don’t have one yet, you can grab one here .
With the NRL Alexa skill, you can sign up for match reminders, catch the latest news and listen live to every match of the season, including State of Origin. Just say, “Alexa, open NRL”
Secure your seat to witness the power of Origin’s rivalry at NRL Tickets
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.