NSW skipper Robbie Farah has disagreed with his coach Laurie Daley, saying the Blues players don’t fear Queensland ahead of Wednesday night’s State of Origin opener in Sydney.
But Farah admits the Blues are wary of a Maroons outfit that had their record eight straight series winning streak snapped last year.
Asked if he agreed with Daley’s statement on Monday that NSW fear Queensland, Farah said: “Not fear. We respect them, we know what they are capable of.
“For us last year is gone now.
“They are a champion side and will want to bounce back.”
However Farah believed NSW had a distinct advantage hosting Origin I at what he hoped would be a sell-out ANZ Stadium.
“Game one is such an important game,” he said.
“To have it here, a place we love playing at, makes it very special for us and very difficult for Queensland.
“Hopefully by tomorrow it will be sold out and a very intimidating place.”
Statistics back Farah’s view.
In the 33 series since the three-game format’s introduction in 1982, the team that has won the first instalment has gone on to clinch the title 24 times.
NSW have won the first contest in 11 of their 13 series victories to date.
Farah claimed to be unaware of the problems which plagued Queensland’s Origin camp which lost Daly Cherry-Evans (shoulder) to injury and sweated on the fitness of Greg Inglis (tonsillitis), Billy Slater (shoulder) and Justin Hodges (foot).
However he was glowing about NSW’s “perfect” preparation, saying the Blues were buzzing thanks to their new faces.
The enthusiasm of debutant forwards David Klemmer and Josh Jackson has rubbed off on teammates while Andrew Fifita and Mitchell Pearce have been embraced upon their return.
“There is a lot of excitement,” he said.
“Even guys like Fifita who is back in this arena after a year off and Mitch Pearce (who also missed 2014), they’ve been great and are just looking forward to it.
“We have had everyone training since day one which I think is important.
“We are confident. We have ticked all the boxes.
“That’s one thing, now we have to get the job done.”
Asked if he agreed with Queensland skipper Cameron Smith that NSW were favourites, Farah said: “Ask the bookies, that’s not for me to worry about.”
Bookmakers list Queensland as $1.75 favourites to beat NSW ($2.15)