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NSW out to end Origin drought

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

SYDNEY - Nine years after their last State of Origin series win, NSW will have no better chance of ending Queensland's dominance in game two at ANZ Stadium today.

Boosted by the 12-8 win in the opening encounter in Brisbane — the Blues' first victory in a series opener north of the Tweed since 2003 — Laurie Daley's side now find themselves in the unfamiliar role of favourites.

Unlike the Maroons, NSW have enjoyed a reasonably smooth build-up to the game with no fresh injury concerns despite the presence of two new faces in Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate to replace Josh and Brett Morris.

In contrast, Queensland had to abandon their elaborate team announcement, featuring the music of Eminem and Cotton Eyed Joe, last Monday with a delayed naming of a 22-man squad because of worries over the fitness of Greg Inglis, Billy Slater and Daly Cherry-Evans.

Experienced Test pair Cooper Cronk and Corey Parker have already been ruled out and Brisbane rookie halfback Ben Hunt has been training all week as back-up for Cherry-Evans who's nursing a knee injury and only ran out with the team for the first time yesterday afternoon.

With home advantage and a crowd of about 84,000 expectant fans to roar them home the stars appear to be finally aligning for NSW.

The return of star back-rower Greg Bird from suspension is also a huge boost as is the form of Jarryd Hayne who was man of the match in the 12-8 win at Suncorp Stadium.

But despite all of these factors the man who skippered the Blues to series victories in 1993 and '94 refuses to concede his side have the upper hand going into a game that could further etch his name in NSW rugby league folklore.

"They're downplaying everything and want us to think they are carrying all of these injuries," Daley said.

"But it's an Origin series and everyone will be ready to go.

"We went into game one as massive underdogs and have plenty of people patting us on the backs telling us how good we are."

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