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State of Origin | Free Preview | Game 1 | 2023


Preview | State of Origin | Game 1 | 2023

MrG’s handicaps, recommended plays and preview notes for this State of Origin clash



Ground: Adelaide

-1.5 market line

36.5 total points (market position)


Second only Origin game in Adelaide.

Prior game – Game 1 2020 contest – Queensland def. New South Wales 18-14


Weather has been dam in Adelaide over the last 3 to 4 days so we’d expect damp under foot conditions and a tight arm wrestle style of game.

Game 1 historically is a tight offering, both teams normally with a high focus on defence and feeling each other out, their lines ups and general approach to play as they start the series.

11 of the last 12 game 1 contests have failed to top 34 points – so typical low scoring tight games.


Interesting match up. Billy Slater certainly stood out as an impressive very well prepare coach last year stepping into his first ever coaching assignment with the head role for QLD, and they then won game 1 in Sydney as the obvious underdog and went on to win the series 2-1. 

Fittler has been a bit of a roller coaster since his appointment, has been some nice wins and highs but also some low offerings most notably games 1 and 3 in the 2020 series loss to Wayne Bennett and then the game 3 loss last season. Fittler also has a questionable record in game 1 of each series with just just the 1 win in the opening game in his 4 series to date.

Team Selections, tactics and questions

Game 1 will also throw up many questions over team selections and then tactics and key weakness or outcomes through this opening game that will set the scene for the series.

  • NSW have a late out with Latrell Mitchell now ruled out. Crichton is now named to play left, while he’s been very successful in the past on the left his over recent seasons has been better known for his work on the right and his quality right foot step. He does however bring a quality past combination with Luai and Toó
  • QLD have omitted Ponga and Gagai gone with the in form Walsh at #1 and Holmes and Tabuai-Fidow as their centres.
  • NSW have picked two new freshman Origin forward selections in Pangai Jnr and Young. Pangai Jnr has only played 6 club games and been in questionable form.
  • NSW look to have an attacking edge with their back 5, and potentially a height advantage under strategic high kicks
  • QLD look to have again gone with the old tried and true method of a forward list of workers who are in form, have Origin experience and would be argued outplayed NSW physically in game 1 and importantly in the game 3 decider
  • NSW will be playing with one true #9 in Koroisau and then makeshift roles to play out the 80 minutes, whether Murray, Luai or Hynes play time in this role and can do so with the polish required at this level of contest?
  • QLD have what certainly looks the advantage and luxury of Hunt starting at #9 then bringing on arguably the best in the business today in Harry Grant, and then their flexibility of playing Hunt later in the game in any one of numerous roles
  • Personally I like the QLD forward line up and bench strength and balance, looks stable and with less risk and shuffling of players into questionable roles (#9)

Game Preview

Fittler and NSW have had a long off season and break to have absorbed the significant loss in the game 3 decider last year NSW, and how they were physically out muscled by a very motivated and aggressive QLD. He has clearly gone with Pangai Jnr and Young in his forward list to add some extra muscle and grunt to the balance of his forward line up.

In a tight affair QLD won game 1 last year (and then game 3) off the back of low errors, discipline and grunt mixed with some game smarts with the ball. In game 1 NSW made 10 errors (and multiple penalties) which all but rolled the red carpet out for QLD to step up. My concern with Pangai Jnr is that he is rocks and diamonds, and his last vein of diamond form was near 2.5 yrs ago, he’s been club hopping since and is prone to over playing his hand, key moments of ill discipline, basis errors and some poor defence. In his 6 club games to date this season he has not stood out consistently, made 7 errors, missed 15 tackles and caused numerous moments of ill discipline putting his team back on the back foot, all the sort of stuff that is such high risk and game turning points in Origin. He is going to need to be at his best, likely a 10% maybe 20% chance for his selection to pay off for Fittler.

Another key question and likely influence on how the game play unfolds is NSW at #9. Fittler looks caught between playing a known back up on rotation off the bench in Cook but then likely weakening his bench rotations late in the game or playing a makeshift back up for a period of play wither to start the game or at some stage mid game. It could be a masterstroke, or major risk and error. Meanwhile QLD sit quietly and smoke their pipe with the luxury of Hunt starting and then Grant coming on fresh and playing out 60 or so minutes with his potential of his individual brilliance and game changing play.

Game 1 traditionally settles in to an arm wrestle and is played predominately through the middle third of the field for much of the game, and become a high pace game of chess – who can dominate field position, dominate physically and or key error moments. This game profile looks no different, add in then that it is a neutral field and we will likely have damp under foot conditions – this looks all about the forward battle, the play and skill out of #9 and mistakes. The 7, 6 and 1 through this middle third for each team can also quickly change things in particular each #1 who have quality back up games and speed and slight of foot skill.

We look in for a quality series that also on paper from the outset looks tight and pretty evenly matched. I lean to the QLD forward line up and bench and have said for the last week this always looked a very even match up and something like $1.90 each and take your pick, the early +2.5 looked the advantage. If as expected the tight contest then I think the best angle play here is the Tri-Bet option, either team to win under 6.5 points $2.50 (6 of the last game 1 results have produced a margin of 6 points of less).

Total game points? The Under looks the obvious call given the history (11 of the last 12 Game 1’s not topping 34 points) but I’m happy to sit this out, you don’t need much to go wrong in the second 40 for it to breach 36. As an alternate angle tho with the expectation that the opening 40 minutes will be very tight I think the first half points under looks the right play – first half under 16.5 points

For those looking for anytime try score options, aside from the obvious market favs down each wing I like Walsh (3.50), Grant ($5.80) and Trbojevic ($2.60).


Tip: QLD

Bet Options: QLD with the start or the Tri Bet option for either team to win under 6.5 points

Game total points: under 36.5 – bet the option of first half under 16.5 points

Anytime Try: Walsh

Man Of The Match: Harry Grant

Bets for Pass It On Clothing Charity c/ Topsport

Our Market Watch podcast 3 Any Time Try Score options for Origin 1 are –

Walsh (Gerard)

Trbojevic (Jimmy)

Tabuai-Fidow (Tristan)

Bet option now available at Topsport –

Any 2 of Walsh, Trbojevic or Tabuai-Fidow score a try


Bet Option Link Here

Podcast Preview
Links Here



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Having coached at a senior level for 16 years including 3 years on the coaching staff of an NRL club Gerard Condon is a long term avid student of the game. He’s coached sides to win titles at a senior level, run the football arm of a successful district club, managed professional players and worked in various development roles, so it’s fair to say the game of Rugby League is certainly in his blood and supports an experienced and unique offering.

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