Origin LIVE: Knives out for QLD's 'weakest side in 40 years' as Wayne forced into late injury scramble

The 2020 State of Origin series gets underway at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night and both the Maroons and the Blues have finalised their 19-man squads.

For Queensland Moeaki Fotuaika and Dunamis Lui were cut from the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off, with Kurt Capewell and Hymel Hunt the players on standby.

Meanwhile, NSW omitted Cameron McInnes and Reagan Campbell-Gillard with Zac Lomax and Nathan Brown on the reserves list.

Read on for the latest Origin news and updates.

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Tedesco 100% fit for Game One

Tedesco 100% fit for Game One

3:12

THE BIG QUESTION MARK SURROUNDING MAROONS

Wayne Bennett rung the changes to this year’s Queensland side with two new faces in the spine alone and it has rugby league legend Andrew Johns concerned.

New South Wales do have a debutant of their own in Luke Keary but Nathan Cleary, James Tedesco and Damien Cook have plenty of experience playing together in the Blues’ recent run of success.

The Maroons on the other hand will need to find cohesion in both attack and defence fast or risk facing a do-or-die clash with NSW at ANZ Stadium next week.

Johns was quite sceptical of Queensland’s chances in a column for the Sydney Morning Herald .

“Looking at their team, I have no idea how the Maroons are going to play,” he wrote.

“How much do they play off Jake Friend at dummy half? What about rookie fullback AJ Brimson... who’s he going to combine with? Do I see halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster playing together? No I don’t.”

There are a lot of unknowns in this Queensland line-up and it has Johns predicting a 12-point win for the Blues.

He is not alone in doubting the Maroons either.

MAROONS LACKING ‘FEAR FACTOR’

No pressure Blues fans.

The expectations are squarely on your side and now the Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie has made a huge statement which will probably end up being stuck on Queensland lockers as the ultimate source of inspiration.

“I’ll go on the record now to say this is the weakest side in 40 years of State of Origin,” he said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“That’s not to say they won’t come back to bite me on my chubby little backside because that’s what Queensland do but you look at that side, it’s not disrespect to any of them, if you look back a decade ago.

“It was an intimidating, frightening side. You look at the side now, it just doesn’t have that fear factor at all.”

It is an underdog tag that skipper Daly Cherry-Evans says Queensland are going to thrive under.

“I understood how much Queensland were underdogs that year (2001) and we are certainly going to be underdogs this year,” Cherry-Evans said a week ago.

“It doesn’t matter which way you want to spin it. We are really going to enjoy that tag and enjoy the challenge ahead of us.”

Baby Maroons not scared

Baby Maroons not scared

2:18

DALEY TAKES AIM AT BENNETT’S DIVERSION TACTICS

Former NSW Blues Origin coach Laurie Daley has criticised Wayne Bennett for calling on Origin eligibility rules to be reviewed one day before the State of Origin series opener.

Bennett’s comments came in light of debate over the eligibility of Luke Keary who was born in Queensland.

He said the NRL should consider reviewing rules around whether birthplace should be a determing factor in eligibility.

Daley though took exception with the timing of the comments and said it was typical of Bennett to discuss it now.

“It’s a discussion you have at the end of an Origin series or you have with the NRL,” he said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“It’s not a discussion you have the day before a State of Origin game. It’s just Wayne deflecting and taking pressure off his team.

“They’re going in as underdogs and that’s exactly the way he wants it to be.

“But there comes a responsibility regardless of if you’re an underdog or favourite, when you pull on the jersey you’re expected to win and play to their potential.

“He’s trying to keep them away from the outside noise and it’s a tactic Wayne loves to lose.”

Origin Game 1 preview

Origin Game 1 preview

6:53

CHEEKY DIGS UNDERWAY AS RIVAL STATES BUTT HEADS

The Melbourne Cup is over but attention has already turned to Wednesday’s Origin opener with Queenslanders already trying to instil pride amid a daunting series against the more highly-fancied Blues.

New South Wales boast a star-studded roster and have been installed as short-priced favourites to take out the opening match of the series.

Ritchie’s above comments on the Big Sports Breakfast doubled down on an article he wrote in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday, detailing Queensland’s fall from grace since their dominant dynasty.

The Daily Telegraph article on Queensland's decline.
The Daily Telegraph article on Queensland's decline.Source: Supplied

Queensland’s Courier Mail though sees this year’s series under Wayne Bennett as an opportunity to restore greatness, dedicating the entire front page to backing Bennett’s Maroons with a play on the US election.

The front page from the Courier Mail.
The front page from the Courier Mail.Source: Supplied

The NSW and QLD Rural Fire Service also got involved in the rivalry.

QUEENSLAND ROCKED BY INJURY SCARES

Earlier Queensland were hit by more injury drama with coach Wayne Bennett revealing both Brenko Lee and Kurt Capewell are carrying injuries.

Capewell, who should run out at centre and push Dane Gagai to the wing at the expense of Phillip Sami, was part of Penrith’s grand final defeat to the Storm.

He is hampered by a groin injury, while Lee limped out of training with a calf problem.

Bennett said both players should be OK to play but revealed Hymel Hunt will come in to act as cover.

Sami will drop out of the side altogether after being named on the wing last week.

MORE NRL NEWS

HEAD TO HEAD: Every match-up analysed and how they will decide Origin opener

UPSET LOOMING: Why Queensland’s not as bad as you think and how they can win

QLD suffer more injury scares

QLD suffer more injury scares

1:50

“He (Capewell) felt a strain in his groin and the other one (Lee) has pain in his calf muscle,” Bennett said.

“They went off as precautionary moves but I talked to the doc and physios and they are confident they will both be OK.

“It wasn’t serious, Lee just felt something. I expect them both to play.”

It is the latest in a number of injury concerns for the Maroons’ backline.

Kalyn Ponga and Kyle Feldt are out of the entire series for surgery, while Valentine Holmes is suspended for Origin I.

It comes after winger Xavier Coates left training on Sunday with a shoulder injury.

Coates is also expected to play after scans gave him the all clear on a knock to his AC joint.

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