With the first game of Origin 2018 set to kick-off this evening in the heart of AFL territory in Melbourne, we examine the key matchups for the match. There is a definite changing of the guard happening at the Maroons, given the retirement of key players and legends, Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, along with the withdrawal of legendary fullback Billy Slater due to injury.
Slater will also follow Smith, Thurston and Cronk into retirement at the conclusion of the series. The Blues will come into this series with a new coach in Brad (Freddie) Fittler and eleven debutants. Freddie has opted for an abundance of players with speed, which definitely gives them the ascendancy in that department. Here are the key matchups: