Billy Slater has kicked off his reign as State of Origin coach in style, with Queensland putting on an epic performance to upset the Blues and win the series opener.
The shock 16-10 victory is the Maroons first win on New South Wales turf in five years.
In front of more than 80,000 fans at Sydney’s Accor Stadium, the sea of blue didn’t appear to phase the men in maroon as they fought their way to victory.
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It was a hard-fought contest, with the Blues’ Jack Wighton scoring the first try of the game before Queensland piled on the points, with a 53rd minute try by Valentine Holmes sealing the win.
Rookie coach Billy Slater was full of emotion in the sheds after the clash as he praised his side for their determination.
“I’m just so proud, I’m so proud to be a Queenslander,” Slater said.
“I’m really proud to be the coach of that group of players.
“All of the performance out there tonight, there’s not much between these two teams, it’s State of Origin it never is”.
Five-eighth Cameron Munster was named man of the match after a stellar performance.
“I don’t know how he does it. I wouldn’t say a loose cannon, a controlled cannon,” teammate Kalyn Ponga said in response to Munter’s game style.
“He’s off the piss and look at him, he’s reaping the rewards.”
Queensland now holds the upper hand heading into game two in Perth on July 26, before a showdown on home soil at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
Unfortunately, winger Xavier Coates will be missing from the clash as he faces a lengthy stint on the sidelines after going down with an ankle injury early in last night’s game.
Despite the loss, NSW Coach Brad Fittler is confident his men will be able to get the job done in Perth in two weeks.
“It’s always tough. If you lose the first one you are up against it,” Fittler said.
“But winning the game there last year at Suncorp gives us a lot of confidence.”