They’ll go down as some of the best rugby league players of their generation, and the red carpet’s been rolled out for Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk to prove how good they are.
The four Maroons will reunite for Wednesday night’s State of Origin game two blockbuster at ANZ Stadium after Slater missed selection in game one and Thurston was sidelined with injury.
The Maroons were thumped 28-4 on their home turf as a result, forcing coach Kevin Walters to make a remarkable seven changes to his squad, including the inclusion of four debutantes.
Before I go any further I should make it clear I’m a Blues supporter and am hoping Boyd Cordner and his men secure the series in front of their home crowd.
But, as much as I hate to say it, I can’t wait to see the influence Slater, Thurston, Smith and Cronk have on the game.
During Queensland’s 11 year reign as the dominant state – winning 10 series – the Maroons have comeback from losing game one on three occasions.
All three of those games were played at Sydney.
They’ve never rallied from a one-nil deficit after losing game one at Brisbane – which happened in 2014 when the Blues scored the series win.
So that statistic leans in favour of the Blues but if there’s ever a time for Queensland to stage what would be remembered as one of the best fightbacks in origin history, it’s right now.
Between them, Slater, Thurston, Smith and Cronk have racked up a massive 124 origin appearances while from one to 17 the NSW Blues have 125 games experience – unbelievable.
The four are no doubt among the best to have played the game, and this origin series is set up for them to show just how brilliant they are because it’s going to take something truly incredible to turn it around.
A side including four players making their origin debuts, the series on the line and playing in front of the Blues home crowd.
It sounds impossible to me, but for some reason I can see it happening.
Whoever wins this games wins the series.
The Blues will obviously clinch it if they get up, and the Maroons won’t lose at Brisbane in game three.
C’mon NSW, you can’t let this one slip.
The game starts from 8pm Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.