IT’S the biggest free to air television deal in history and it’s set to bring State of Origin rugby league to Sunday night.
And the NRL is laughing all the way to the bank with its new four year deal with Channel Nine, which will show four live games a week from 2018, worth $925 million.
And a record number of viewers are set to watch the Sunday Origin game, with online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au predicting the first game to have between 2.8 million and three million viewers at odds of $2.25.
The bookie’s Will Byrne says that over three million viewers is a $5 chance, while over 3.2 million is an $11 outsider.
“Less than 2.2 million is also at long odds of $9,” Byrne said.
“Meanwhile the Sunday night showing of game two is expected to beat both the opening ($7.50) and closing ($2.25) games of the series at $1.85.
“It’s a new era for the NRL on free to air TV and we’re betting the move of Origin game two to a Sunday slot will reap back some of Nine’s investment.”
One man who is pretty happy with the revamped Origin look is Queensland coach Mal Meninga.
While he hasn’t signed on to continue as coach just yet, Meninga said the deal was a “win win”.
“From an Origin point of view, I’m happy with the scheduling,” Meninga said.
“I think it’s great.
“Sunday night, standalone representative weekend, I think that’s smart.
“We’ll adapt accordingly.
“We don’t know the intricacies of it all but I’m assuming that all the players will be playing for their teams the weekend before the standalone weekend.
“That’s a couple of days less preparation, so they’ve just got to be managed a bit smarter, as they do week to week.
“We’ll probably have a bigger squad leading into game one, just to cater for game two.
“My thoughts, I think it’s great.
“It’s got to favour the NRL clubs, one less game that they’re missing their players.
“I think it’s a fairer system.
“Having a shorter timeframe, one less week, and having them more available for the clubs, I think it’s a bonus.
“It’s a win win situation.”
Meninga said he hoped the new deal would help broaden the NRL’s reach.
“We need to broaden our participation rates and get our second-tier competition even stronger,” Meninga said.
“That’s an important part and these new TV rights that have been negotiated with Channel Nine go some way towards that.
“It opens up our viewing audience a bit more particularly in the regional and rural areas.
“We need to have a look at our core people, which are the ones who play the game at the grassroots and get those coming through, offering opportunities to those so we can get more people playing the game.”
Under the deal, matches will be televised live on Nine on Thursday, Friday and Saturday during prime time and on Sunday at 4pm.
NRL chief executive officer Dave Smith said the new deal would double the number of games shown live on free to air.
“So there will be more live and free rugby league on television – and that is what the fans want,” Mr Smith said.
“And we still have simulcast rights, pay tv, New Zealand and international television rights to be negotiated.
“So the future of the game is in great shape.
“We will be able to schedule the best games when fans want to see them – and ensure all clubs receive the coverage they deserve on free to air television.
“It’s four games in prime time for free.
“It allows us to appeal to more people, especially those in regional areas who can’t get to games.
“It’s all about the fans.
“You’re going to bring more people in.
“More women and girls are watching, more fans are watching the big events and we need to feed that into the premiership.”
Under the agreement, the NRL will play one less round, 25 instead of 26, the second Sunday Origin match will be the culmination of a weekend of representative football. More international rugby league will feature following the season and only one split round.
“In other words, we are preserving Origin as a marquee event of the year while minimising disruption to the Premiership,” Smith said.
“This will not only improve player welfare but it will be fairer for the clubs and fans.
“The digital media market is changing rapidly and it is our view that new and exciting opportunities will develop with Fox Sports and other providers
“By 2018, the digital world will be very different and we want to be in the best possible position to take advantage of any changes.
“So negotiations with the pay tv and digital providers will continue and, again, our focus will be on ensuring the most widespread coverage on whatever platform fans choose to watch rugby league.”
As far as the Premiership markets go, Byrne reports the North Queensland Cowboys are the best backed for the flag, ahead of the Brisbane Broncos, and reigning champions the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
At CrownBet.com.au, the Sydney Roosters are the clear favourites after piling on 38 points against the Newcastle Knights.
The third placed Roosters won 38-22 and many think they’re the team to beat, despite the Cowboys ($4) and Broncos ($5.50) sitting above them on the ladder.
A hat trick to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was the catalyst for the Roosters’ big win, after they led 26-0 at half time, but had to fight off a spirited second half effort from the Knights.
The Cowboys did themselves no favours in the market, though, with a disappointing effort on the road against the Cronulla Sharks ($16), falling 30-18, while the Broncs lost a nail biter to the Canterbury Bulldogs ($11), 18-16.
The Rabbitohs are out to $9 after being walloped by the ninth placed Manly Sea Eagles, 28-8, who will now fancy their chances of making the eight and perhaps causing an upset, rated a $17 chance for the flag.
The Melbourne Storm are the only other team in the market, rated a $17 chance after whacking the Gold Coast Titans, 36-14.
NRL Premiership market
Sydney Roosters ($3.20)
North Queensland Cowboys ($4)
Brisbane Broncos ($5.50)
South Sydney Rabbitohs ($9)
Canterbury Bulldogs ($11)
Cronulla Sharks ($16)
Melbourne Storm ($17)
Manly Sea Eagles ($17)
St George Illawarra Dragons ($29)
Canberra Raiders ($101)
New Zealand Warriors ($201)
Wests Tigers ($501)
Penrith Panthers ($1001)
Parramatta Eels ($1001)
Gold Coast Titans ($1501)
2018 State of Origin markets
Sunday State of Origin game two 2018 Viewers
Under 2,200,000 ($9)
2,200,000 – 2,399,999 ($11)
2,400,000 – 2,599,999 ($7.50)
2,600,000 – 2,799,999 ($4)
2,800,000 – 2,999,999 ($2.25)
3,000,000 – 3,199,999 ($5)
3,200,000 or more ($11)
Which Game will have the most viewers
State of Origin one 2018 ($7.50)
State of Origin two 2018 ($1.85)
State of Origin three 2018 ($2.25)
FLAT out embarrassing.
With the State of Origin series tied at 1-1, on the back of two low scoring, tight results, Queensland has delivered a monstrous hammering of the highest order against bitter rival New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium, cantering to a 52-6 win in game three to take the title back from the Blues.
But, in the wake of the shocking performance just hours ago, Sportsbet.com.au, for some reason, has installed the Blues ($1.87) as favourites to win next year’s title.
That’s right, a side that was just crushed in a cut throat decider by 46 points is favoured to bounce back and win it next year, the bookie’s Christian Jantzen said.
Despite tonight’s sublime performance to win the series, Queensland finds itself the $1.93 outsiders in 2016.
“Yes, we are actually serious,” Jantzen said.
“Some will think we’re crazy having NSW as favourites after tonight’s result, but with games one and three to be played in Sydney next year, the Blues will have every chance to exact revenge.
“But, in the mean time, there’s a bit of soul searching to do.”
Soul searching might be the understatement of the century as an ice cold Blues side produced one of the worst performances in a state of origin decider ever.
It was a record winning margin for the Maroons in a State of Origin match and gave them their ninth win from the last 10 series, re asserting Queensland’s recent dominance of the traditional state versus state competition.
Bizarrely, New South Wales scored the first points of the match, converting from the tee to give them a 2-0 lead after Justin Hodges, in his final game for the Maroons, knocked the ball on.
But Queensland took the lead at the 16 minute mark of the first half and never let it go.
The Maroons led 22-2 at half time and continued the humiliation after the break, Johnathan Thurston just adding to his legend with a record nine goals, going perfect from his nine attempts.
Hodges made up for his earlier error, finishing on a massive high by converting the final points of the match with a kick in the 79th minute, amid jubilant scenes.
The stats are so lopsided, you’d think one side was missing a couple of men.
Queensland had 42 sets to New South Wales’ 25, completing a whopping 37 of them to the Blues 16. New South Wales was forced to make a massive 341 tackles to Queensland’s 194, missing 26 of those to the Maroons’ nine, and the northerners made 15 off loads to the Blues’ five.
Incredibly, the Maroons had eight individual try scorers during the romp.
Star Corey Parker was again a monster for the Maroons and was fittingly named man of the series.
He won the Wally Lewis Medal after three monster games, including 22 tackles, 14 hit ups and five off loads tonight.
He put the spoils of victory on the shoulders of the adoring Queensland crowd, which turned out in force to watch their boys romp to the massive win.
“We didn’t do this on our own tonight, we did it for the state of Queensland,” Parker said.
“The support we’ve had since game two has been phenomenal.
“To get the shield back on home soil is something special.”
The night started on a negative for the Blues, with talisman Robbie Farah ruled out after failing to come up from a broken hand he suffered while playing for the Wests Tigers, replaced in the line up by Michael Ennis – who made 49 tackles in a great performance.
And it just got worse from there.
Bad for the Blues, very good for the Maroons, who gave coach Mal Meninga the sort of birthday present he would have been hoping.
Meninga celebrated his 55th birthday in style with the huge victory and says his team has been historically good over the past 10 years.
“It’s an extraordinary team over the last decade,” Meninga said.
“And their enthusiasm and commitment is still there – they are great competitors.
“(But) history will make those judgements.”
And while Meninga celebrated, Blues coach Laurie Daley was left to lament, his side tortured by their opponents.
“That was embarrassing,” Daley was heard to say as he left his coach’
While the win was massive, it was overshadowed by the huge support for Maroons captain Cameron Smith, after he suffered a hatchet job at the hands of Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes on Sunday night.
Smith, criticised by former Newcastle player Alex McKinnon for his actions following the jarring moment when Knights forward was left a paraplegic, was backed in by the dignitaries across the rugby league world.
One fan even brandished a ‘Rise for Cameron’ banner, playing on the ‘Rise for Alex’ campaign that Smith had championed in the wake of McKinnon’s injury.
McKinnon was insensed by Smith claiming he had contributed to his own injury by ducking his head and questioning of the penalty, while he lay there in serious trouble, but NRL boss Dave Smith came out in support of the Melbourne Storm star.
“Cam is a thoroughly decent human being,” Smith said.
“He has done so much for the game.
“Everybody in rugby league regrets what happened that night.
“Everybody would take that back.
“Cam Smith is one of the great guys of the game and does so much for people less fortunate than himself.
“He’s a terrific bloke.
“He’s made a great contribution to our game.
Smith, he Maroons captain, said his side had been determined to atone for their defeat at the hands of New South Wales in Melbourne last month and ensure they wrested the coveted origin series back north of the border.
“Coming off a pretty difficult loss in Melbourne, our game two wasn’t the best by our standards,” Smith said.
“We had to be brutally honest with our review at the start of this week.
“I think it shows the quality of this side and the way we all played for each other and stood up for each other … it’s quite a proud moment.”
2016 State of Origin Series Winner
New South Wales Blues ($1.87)
Queensland ($1.93) @ Sportsbet.com.au – thoroughly recommended!
STATE of Origin deciders bring a special kind of intensity and level of skill to the game of Rugby League.
With everything on the line, these games rarely disappoint.
One of the true challenges of the Origin decider for punters is predicting who will be named man of the match. Which player out of the game’s absolute elite out-shown the rest? Who carried their state to Origin glory?
With a host of stars across both sides, gaining a healthy return on this market is dependent on your selected player putting in a supreme performance.
New South Wales’ centre Michael Jennings was a surprise packet for the honour in game two and returned $15.00 from Crownbet.com.au.
Here are the two sides and each players chance and odds of taking out the best on ground award, decided by the Australian selectors.
State of Origin Man of the Match odds
1 – Greg Inglis – $9.00 at Crownbet.com.au
Will absolutely relish the switch to fullback, replacing the injured Billy Slater and will be target number one for NSW on the kick-return. His speed combined with one of the best fends in the game will trouble the Blues’ defence all night.
2 – Darius Boyd – $81.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Hasn’t provided the spark or impact he had on last year’s series, however has shown some small glimpses of his try-scoring ability. Will need to combine with his centre pairing (name) to be any chance of taking out this award and getting his name on the scoreboard.
3 – Will Chambers – $51.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Had a blinder in game one, however was well contained in game two by the New South Wales’ defence. Will need a huge performance to outshine his fellow teammates and needs to get involved with running the ball.
4 – Justin Hodges – $26.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Has been solid in both games, but hasn’t produced anything outstanding. His age is starting to catch up with him, considering the speed of these matches continues to increase.
5 – Dane Gagai – $81.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
The Newcastle Knights winger will make his debut for Queensland and faces a tough test against New South Wales’ rock-solid defence. Will need to be heavily involved in this match.
6 – Johnathan Thurston – $6.50 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Always amongst the favourites for the man of the match award, Thurston was contained by the Blues’ extremely well in game two, however his kicking game, running ability and general direction of the side will see him play a huge role in the outcome of this decider.
7 – Cooper Cronk – $11.00 at Sportsbet.com.au.
Cronk returns in place of Cherry-Evans and will add a huge dynamic to this side, along with this outstanding combination with Thurston in the halves. In a close content, Cronk could well be the deciding factor and isn’t far away from the best on ground.
8 – Matt Scott – $23.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Does his job and gets through a stack of work, however with many class forwards on the field, with have to produce a herculean effort to be noticed by the selectors.
9 – Cameron Smith – $10.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Always in the mix for not only man of the match, but player of the series. Was contained well by the Blues’ in game two, however Smith rarely puts two quiet performances back to back and with Cronk back in the number seven, Cameron will be heavily involved in the attacking game plan and if Queensland are successful, will certainly be a front-runner for selection.
10 – Nate Myles – $34.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Like Scott, Myles does his job in the front-row, taking plenty of hit ups and making important takes, yet hasn’t done anything outstanding in the series thus far that would warrant man of the match honours.
11 – Aiden Guerra – $34.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Has been solid in both games, without producing a stand-out performance. Is reliable in defence, and carries the ball hard, but will need to produce more.
12 – Sam Thaiday – $26.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Always runs the ball hard and troubles the defence, however his statistics in game two weren’t over impressive. With limited game time in the last origin, he will need to produce an enormous effort to crowned man of the match.
13 – Corey Parker- $15.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Was brilliant in game two and racked up a stack of metres and tackles for his side. His outstanding goal-kicking ability, will be a vital tool for the Maroons on Wednesday night and don’t be surprised if he’s named Queensland’s best, at 33 years of age.
14 – Michael Morgan – $51.00 at crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au
15 – Josh Papalli – $101.00 at Sportsbet.com.auand crownbet.com.au
16 – Matt Gillett – $34.00 at Sportsbet.com.auand crownbet.com.au
17 – Jacob Lillyman – $101.00 at Sportsbet.com.au and crownbet.com.au
New South Wales Blues:
1 – Josh Dugan – $13.00 at Sportsbet.com.au
Has been one of New South Wales’ best in both games, producing some outstanding kick returns and troubling the Queensland defence with every touch. If Dugan continues his form into this match, he will be an instrumental part of the Blues’ success and is at great odds for punters to take out man of the match honours.
2 – Brett Morris – $81.00 at Sportsbet.com.au.
Shifting from his usual position at fullback, Morris was solid in game two and did all he could from the wing position. It’s difficult to be considered for man of the match when you don’t receive a great percentage of the ball, however a couple of tries on the board, combined with his rock-solid defence, will definitely place him in the mix amongst discussions.
3 – Michael Jennings – $34.00 at Crownbet.com.au.
Quite surprisingly after Jennings brilliant in effort in game two, his odds still remain very enticing to be named best on ground. Looked dangerous every time he touched the ball in Melbourne and opened New South Wales’ account with a dazzling solo effort. His lightning-fast speed will be an asset for the Blues’ halves in the decider and needs to be used to get him noticed by the selection panel.
4 – Josh Morris – $41.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Has done an outstanding job containing Inglis in the past couple of series and is always a reliable defender on the edges. His combination with twin brother Josh has produced some thrilling tries and will be mentioned if he produces a stand-out effort.
5 – Will Hopoate – $151.00 at Sportsbet.com.au.
Hasn’t lived up to expectations in this series, particularly with his involvement with the ball. Takes a few hit ups and has been solid in defence, however needs to produce a spectacular effort to be considered for man of the match.
6 – Mitchell Pearce – $15.00 at Sportsbet.com.au and Crownbet.com.au.
Pearce continues to prove his critics wrong, with two impressive performances thus far. Clearly outshining his halves partner Hodkinson, much of the ball playing, combined with his solid running game has been attributed to the Blues’ success in game two. Pearce needs to adopt some of Hodkinson’s calmness and stick to his natural game, rather than trying to be too fancy and he should be in the mix for man of the match if the team secures their second-straight series win.
7 – Trent Hodkinson – $26.00 at Sportsbet.com.au
Played his best game of the season last Monday night for the Bulldogs against the Storm, showing glimpses of his 2014 form that led the Bulldogs to a grand final berth. Exuding a smart kicking game, along with making the most of his opportunities on the fringes, Hodkinson’s calmness under pressure will be a huge advantage in the latter stages for New South Wales on Wednesday night. If he repeats his performance from last week, will certainly place him in good stead to be considered for man of the match.
8 – James Tamou – $34.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Has been a workhorse in both games, making good metres from his hit-ups and also providing good cover in defence. Has been a great addition to the New South Wales’ side without producing anything outstanding and will be looking to provide great service for his backs again on Wednesday night. Will need to outshine Aaron Woods for man of the match consideration.
9 – Robbie Farah – $11.00 at Crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
Hasn’t been officially ruled out yet, but the outlook is bleak for Farah, who suffered a broken hand and underwent surgery last week. Was solid as a rock in game two and contributed to his team’s performance with some smart kicking options. Farah is likely to be replaced by Cronulla Sharks hooker Michael Ennis if he fails the fitness test, however should he happen to play, will get through his usual workload and add to the Blues’ attack with his kicking and passing game.
10 – Aaron Woods – $15.00 at crownbet.com.au.
Woods not only has a huge chance of being named player of the match, but is a front-runner for New South Wales’ player of the series. Stood up in game two as a force to be reckoned with, with barnstorming hit-ups and produced a brilliant solo effort to crash over the line for a try. The halves job will be made a lot easier feeding off the back of Woods, who’s youth and enthusiasm continues to worry the Queensland defence.
11 – Beau Scott – $26.00 at crownbet.com.au and Sportsbet.com.au.
An outstanding defender, who produced some crunching tackles in game two and will be called upon again to stop Queensland’s attacking raids. Hasn’t produced anything spectacular this far, however Scott’s only focus will be on getting through his workload and supporting his teammates.
12 – Ryan Hoffman – $23.00 at Sportsbet.com.au.
Has been a surprise packet this series, with a great work ethic in both games so far. Always chews up a heap of metres in attack and puts his body on the line in defence. Watch for Hoffman to stand up and be counted in the decider, with a man of the match award certainly on the cards.
13 – Paul Gallen – $13.00 at Sportsbet.com.au.
Will go into this match nursing the rib injury he suffered in game two, however that won’t stop the Blues’ captain from getting through a mountain of work and leading his side around the park. Always produces inspiring efforts in attack and defence and is always in the mix for man of the match awards.
14 – Trent Merrin – $67.00 at Sportsbet.com.au and Crownbet.com.au
15 – Boyd Cordner – $67.00 at Sportsbet.com.au
16 – David Klemmer – $34.00 at Sportsbet.com.au
17 – Josh Jackson – $126.00 at Sportsbet.com.au
GREG Inglis has had his fair share of pressure in an illustrious career, but he says he is now ready to play from fullback in the 2015 State of Origin deciding game on Wednesday.
Inglis has played at fullback a total of 91 times in the NRL, but this will be just his second chance to play at the back against the game’s elite talent in Origin.
The big number one knows how difficult the position is, but he feels confident he can deliver on the big stage.
“It just comes through confidence and being confident with the boys around you in order to boss them around the field and tell them to get in the right position,” Inglis said.
“Obviously being at the back, the front line can’t always see where the opposition’s coming. Talk is very vital and that’s what Billy does extremely well.
“It’s something that I’ve been learning over the last few years and I’ve been getting there, it’s just continuing to do it.”
His teammates expect big things from Inglis at the fullback position as Queensland ($1.62 at Sportsbet.com.au) try to reclaim the State of Origin title after losing it last year.
“Just having his big frame and his ability to break tackles; he’s such a player that anything can happen around so it gives us a fair bit of excitement there that he’s at the back,” said Queensland prop Matt Scott.
“We’re definitely going to miss Billy [Slater] and what he brings to the game, but Greg obviously brings his own type of skill and excitement to fullback.”
Inglis is known for his bullish running and ability to play the ball quickly, attributes Scott thinks make a big difference in Origin.
“It’s a massive difference, especially in this game where field position’s so important,” Scott said.
“If we can have a good kick return from a front-rower it’s gold, I love it. You don’t have to go back too far so if Greggy [Inglis] can do a job for us like that and we can limit the amount of yards they have defensively so they’re putting long kicks in and he’s catching them on the full, that’s what we want.”
Inglis will be preparing to field kicks from both Blues kickers Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce, but also from the hooker role with either Robbie Farah or Michael Ennis.
“Probably more refresh my memory of their kicking and where they’re planning to kick and what types of kicks they’re going to do and obviously working with my back five as well,” Inglis said.
“Origin is any position is a big step up and you find out very quickly about you as a player and as a character.”
Morris excited about opportunity
Brett Morris was unable to celebrate with his teammates last year after being injured in Game One, but this year he is hoping to enjoy the spoils on the field.
The noted try-scorer will run out for the New South Wales Blues ($2.25 at CrownBet.com.au) in the hopes of winning back-to-back titles.
“It’s one of those things I want to do,” Morris said. “I want to be part of a winning series and to be on the field for the decider.
“It hurt missing last year, but it was great sitting in the stands and watching a New South Wales victory.
“I want to be holding up the shield in a playing kit, not a suit.”
Morris said the Game One win at Suncorp gave his team plenty of confidence.
“As a player you get used to it. In the past it was probably daunting,” Morris said. “These days [for] a lot of players it lifts them and they get really excited by the crowd.
“I sat in the crowd in 2009 when Josh [Morris] was playing. They started turning a bit feral. They’d won, it was 2-0. The boys beat them. They were starting to go crazy. I was in the stands in the Blues jersey giving it back to them.
“It’s a great place to watch rugby league.”
As per usual, Origin is full of off-the-field chatter and Morris doesn’t believe fellow teammate David Klemmer was guilty of showing a lack of respect for the Queenslanders.
“They are a great side and have a lot of future immortals,” Morris said. “In the past we have been too nice and given them a bit too much respect.
“In saying that, we’re not being disrespectful, we’re going out there playing as hard as we can and leaving egos as soon as you step over the white line. ‘Klem’ has played two games, and a lot of guys are saying he is disrespectful.
“He goes out there and tries his hardest and leaves everything on the field. When he leaves the field he shakes their hands and shows them the respect he has to. From them demanding respect, we are out there to do the same thing they are doing. In the past they have done it better, now it’s starting to shift and our guys are really ripping in.
“As footballers you go out there as a player you try and play the hardest you can. We’ve been too worried about them as players, now we are worried about ourselves. We will shake their hands at the end of the game and show them respect, when it’s game time it’s on,” Morris added.
THE rumour mill was spinning all week about the possibility of Billy Slater cutting his season short due to injury, and we can now confirm that Storm and Maroons fullback will require shoulder surgery.
Slater has been ruled out of the remainder of the NRL season for the Melbourne Storm and the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium on July 8.
The decision was made by Slater following the Maroons loss to the New South Wales Blues after being assessed by medical staff.
It comes as no surprise to Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi, who realised Slater would need surgery following his shoulder injury against the Warriors in Round 5.
“After Billy [Slater] sustained the injury initially in Round 5 we knew he would require surgery at some stage,” said Ponissi.
“At the time we made the decision with Billy to take the conservative approach and rehab and strengthen the joint to get to the end of the season, but knowing potentially at some stage we wouldn’t be able to continue with this approach.”
The news has already affected the odds for State of Origin at Sportsbet.com.au.
Queensland are currently priced at $1.65 after opening as short as $1.57, and that price is expected to lengthen as the game draws closer.
Slater has been the custodian for the Maroons for a number of years, but this injury puts massive pressure on both the Maroons and the Storm, which have also lost Cooper Cronk to injury.
The Storm are now $11 at Sportsbet.com.au to win the 2015 NRL Premiership, despite sitting in fourth place on the ladder.
The $1.95 to finish in the Top 4 wouldn’t be the most popular option for punters and money will likely come for the Storm to miss the Top 8 at $6.50 with Sportsbet.com.au.
The loss of Slater will force some reshuffling at the back, but Slater says he’s not able to play to his full potential.
“After each game I play, the battle to get up for the next week is becoming harder and the shoulder takes longer to settle down, not allowing me to play to my full potential,” Slater said.
“Each week I’ve been focused on getting up for the next game and was able to do that for Origin on Wednesday night at the MCG, however the best decision is to undergo surgery now.
“I’m extremely disappointed not to be available to play for Queensland in Game 3 and especially for the rest of the season with Melbourne Storm,” Slater added.
Slater’s absence from the eagerly awaited Broncos vs. Storm clash this Sunday at AAMI Park has caused a big shift in the market.
The Broncos opened as $1.70 favourites and have moved into $1.55 on the back of the injury news. Money has piled in for the Brisbane side which welcome back Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Josh McGuire.
Slater was a $51 chance to win the Dally M Medal with teammate Cameron Smith at $26. Expect Smith’s odds to shorten up with the exclusion of Slater, but he will need to find that link play that Slater provided.
The Melbourne Storm will still field a solid team against the Broncos this Sunday. Will Chambers returns to the backline and Cameron Smith slips back into his hooking role.
They don’t match up well against the Broncos however, whose team looks near unbeatable on paper, but the NRL isn’t scripted and the Storm might find something extra at home.
THERE’S no greater stage for an NRL player than a crucial State of Origin clash.
There’s no higher honour than a man-of-the-match award in these games.
Only the very best players rise above the pack in these matches and that’s why finding the right player to bet on can be so hard.
Queensland legend Wally Lewis holds the record for the most man-of-the-match awards in Origin games with eight. Fellow Queenslanders and modern day stars Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston have both won the award four times and are certainly capable of threatening Lewis’ record over the next few years.
The award is presented to the best player in the match according to the Australian selectors and betting agencies are offering outstanding odds for all 34 players.
Our NRL expert takes us through the odds for each player in both squads and tells you who is the best chance for glory.
Queensland player odds
Billy Slater – Melbourne Storm ($13.00) crownbet.com.au
Big question marks remain over the reliability of Slater’s shoulder, which would have also been a topic of discussion among the New South Wales’ coaching staff. Was as safe as a bank at the back in game one and the Blues halves will need to be more creative with the boot to trouble him.
Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos ($67.00) crownbet.com.au
Was very quiet in game one, however his try-scoring ability has always seen him form an integral part of the maroon’s side. Forms a great combination with Greg Inglis and is dangerous when close to the line.
Greg Inglis – South Sydney Rabbitohs ($15.00) luxbet.com.au
Received nowhere near the amount of ball he should’ve in game one. Inglis is far more dangerous at the back of the attacking line and many people have suggested he should shift to the wing and defuse kick returns.
Justin Hodges – Brisbane Broncos ($26.00) crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
Had a great first origin game when he shut down Blues’ winger Daniel Tupou and made some crucial metres throughout the match. Always reliable, combining strong defence with nippy footwork.
Will Chambers – Melbourne Storm ($67.00) sportsbet.com.au
If Chambers repeats his first origin game form then these odds are too good to refuse. Was outstanding on the wing, making over 200 metres from his hit ups and troubled the blues’ defence all night.
Johnathan Thurston – North Queensland Cowboys ($7.00) crownbet.com.au
Thurston is always among the favourites to take out the man of the match award and Wednesday will be no different. He wasn’t the standout player in game one, but did his job with a solid kicking game and assisted Cronk with the overall direction of the side.
Daly-Cherry Evans – Manly Sea Eagles ($13.00) crownbet.com.au
Comes into this match with enormous pressure from fans and the media, with a big game required to fill the shoes of Cronk, who was brilliant in game one. Has the ability to lead the side around, however Thurston is expected to take over as the leader.
Matt Scott – North Queensland Cowboys ($21.00) crownbet.com.au
Never the standout player of the Queensland side, but always does his job and gets through a mountain of work.
Cameron Smith – Melbourne Storm ($12.00) luxbet.com.au
Already being labelled a future immortal, Smith’s dummy-half attacking raids and leadership qualities have been the backbone of Queensland’s origin dominance. Punters will get a superb return with luxbet.com.au at $12.00, with Smith aiming for his fifth origin man of the match award.
Nate Myles – Gold Coast Titans ($51.00) sportsbet.com.au
Wasn’t terrible in game one, but wasn’t noticed either. Usually gets through a decent workload, however will need to lift to be considered as the games’ best player.
Aiden Guerra – Sydney Roosters ($34.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was terrific in defence for the Maroons and kept the Blues’ attack at bay. Will need to do something more spectacular to be any chance of being named man of the match.
Sam Thaiday – Brisbane Broncos ($23.00) crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
Always delivers for his team and the speed of his play really helped the Maroons get on the front foot. Strong defender and metre-eater. Never far away from being named Queensland’s best.
Corey Parker – Brisbane Broncos ($13.00) sportsbet.com.au, crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
If Thurston wasn’t in the side, Parker would be the number one goal kicker. Has a great strike rate and you wouldn’t find a better substitute for JT. Gets through a stack of work and is always reliable wherever he’s needed.
New South Wales player odds
Josh Dugan – St George Illawarra Dragons ($13.00) luxbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Threatened the Queensland defence every time he touched the ball in Game 1. Was solid as a rock at the back of the field and is a huge chance of taking out the award with a repeat performance.
Will Hopoate – Parramatta Eels ($126.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was solid in defence, however didn’t offer much in attack. Not a realistic chance in Game 2.
Michael Jennings – Sydney Roosters ($51.00) crownbet.com.au
Offered some glimpses of his blinding speed in game one, but otherwise was contained by the Queensland defence. Needs to combine more with the ball players and get into open space.
Josh Morris – Canterbury Bulldogs ($67.00) sportsbet.com.au
Morris’ odds dont justify his outstanding performance in game one. The Bulldogs centre kept Greg Inglis as quiet as a mouse and tested the Queensland defence on several occasions. He wont get the accolades he deserves, but he is sneaky value at $67.
Brett Morris – Canterbury Bulldogs ($51.00) luxbet.com.au
Returns to the Blues’ side and will combine with twin brother Josh. Was solid for the Bulldogs in his comeback match last week and offers plenty of options in attack.
Mitchell Pearce – Sydney Roosters ($12.00) sportsbet.com.au
Defied his critics with an impressive performance in game one. Showed good creativity and tried his heart out to inspire the Blues’ side. His combination with Hodkinson was superb. That combination will go into this match with even more experience and training time under their belts.
Trent Hodkinson – Canterbury Bulldogs ($29.00) crownbet.com.au
The late-mail for Hopkinson’s axing for game two came thick and fast after the Canterbury half was benched against Canberra, 15 minutes before full-time. He wasn’t terrible in game one, but only offered safe kicking options and good defence. Needs to spark his side considerably to be considered in this market
Aaron Woods – Wests Tigers ($34.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was New South Wales’ best player in game one. Gained huge metres all night and tested the Queensland defence with every touch. Great odds to take man of the match honours with a repeat performance.
Robbie Farah – Wests Tigers ($12.00) crownbet.com.au
Made 61 tackles in game one and was as safe as a bank at dummy-half. Attempted to inspire the Blues’ attack as much as possible and will get through a mountain of work again.
James Tamou – North Queensland Cowboys ($34.00) sportsbet.com.au
Understandably tired late in the match in Origin 1, however his offload set up Morris’ brilliant try and carried the ball strong, as expected.
Beau Scott – St George Illawarra ($34.00) crownbet.com.au
Was picked in the side because of his defensive ability and as expected made a stack of metres and tackled with great tenacity. The icing on the cake was a try and four line breaks.
Ryan Hoffman – New Zealand Warriors ($34.00) crownbet.com.au
Played 80 minutes in game one and did his job. Nothing too flash, but took the ball up when necessary. Last year’s Brad Fittler medalist could be a dark horse for this award.
Paul Gallen – Cronulla Sharks ($13.00) sportsbet.com.au
The Blues’ captain returns in game two, despite having no match fitness under his belt. Always leads the side like a true warrior and always elevates his stats with a heap of tackles and metres.
THERE has been plenty of mud-slinging ahead of State of Origin Game 2, but the time has come for players, coaches and fans to put their money where their mouths are.
The New South Wales Blues ($2.20 at Sportsbet.com.au) narrowly lost by a point at ANZ Stadium in Game 1 and despite a great individual performance from NSW star Josh Dugan, the Blues struggled as a unit in the game’s biggest moments.
Dugan cared little for the personal praise and was focused on leveling the series and defending the 2014 series win.
“Personal accolades for me is the bottom of the list,” Dugan said.
“I might have played good but we lost the game and that’s the thing that hurt most and that’s the thing we have to rectify.”
Dugan hobbled away from the Dragons clash against the Bulldogs with a minor hip injury, but he remains upbeat about being fully healthy come Wednesday.
“Yeah it’s ok, got a bit of physio yesterday, I’ve been on the ice, it’s pulled up better today, I’ll get through the session today and back on the ice,” he said.
Dugan isn’t the only Blues player nursing an injury, the vocal Robbie Farah has overcome a serious shoulder injury and is “strapped and ready to go,” according to Dugan.
Dugan also had to defend questions about the inclusion of motivational leader Paul Gallen, after Phil Gould publically stated that the 34-year-old should move on.
“[Gallen] is an inspirational leader and he’s someone that won’t let anyone down,” Dugan said.
“I think he’ll prove how old he is on Wednesday, he’ll probably be one of our best players like he is nearly every Origin.
“He’ll go for as long as he can and as long as he’s playing great footy and putting the performances on the board I don’t see why he can’t be there.”
The Queensland Maroons ($1.62 at CrownBet.com.au) will be without Cooper Cronk for the second straight game, but Dugan is more focused on his side and not what the opposition fields.
“We’re pretty confident without even worrying about their team, we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we lost it ourselves,” Dugan said.
“We should have probably won that game. Again, decision making under fatigue and a few errors out of our end gifted them some good ball.
“It’s a must-win game for us and that’s the mentality we have to take into every session. We spoke about that yesterday and I think all the boys have bought into it.
“We’ve got to use that as motivation. It was heartbreaking to lose by one point when we put ourselves in a position to win. We have to go out there and not let the game slip again.”
Slater risking Storm future for Maroons
Origin 2 could well be Billy Slater’s last game this season as the fullback is battling a serious shoulder injury.
Triple M’s Ben Dobbin said that the Melbourne star will play Game 2 on his home soil at the MCG, but the Origin clash will likely be his last this season.
“Slater will play game two of State of Origin this year but it could be his last game of the season,” Dobbin said.
“His shoulder is absolutely no good.
“If he makes it through Game 2 I don’t believe that he will take his place at the Melbourne Storm for the remainder of the season.
“If I was Laurie Daley and the coaching staff, who would you be targeting front and centre? Billy Slater.”
Josh Dugan made comment about using dirty tactics to the Blues advantage.
“We didn’t do it in Game One [with dirty tactics] and we nearly won Game One so I don’t think we need to buy into it at all.”
Slater is currently paying $2.40 to score a try in State of Origin Game 2, but teammates Will Chambers ($2.30 at CrownBet) and Greg Inglis ($2.30) could be better options, given the injury news.