Maroons look to past for State of Origin spark
Flashbacks of the late, great Artie Beetson will no doubt feature on the Suncorp Stadium big screens when Queensland honours their inaugural skipper at the 100th State of Origin tonight.
But Maroons captain Cameron Smith hoped memories of the legendary Mal Meninga would be sparked by fellow Queensland centre Greg Inglis in the series opener.
In what loomed as an emotional night, Queensland were tipped to don the plain maroon design of the inaugural 1980 side in the historic match that would also tip its hat to ''the godfather of Origin'' Beetson by retiring his No 11 jersey for the night.
''For us old blokes, it's a significant moment,'' said 32 Origin game veteran-come-reigning eight-time series winning Maroons coach Meninga.
''(To honour) game 100, especially being involved in the first one, we have to play well.''
And Smith believed the key to a fitting Beetson tribute would be a stirring Meninga impersonation by that man Inglis.
Already Origin's greatest try scorer with 15 from 21 games, Inglis, 27, has been tipped to run amok in game one by Smith - as long as he got an early taste of the action.
''People say he is a lot like Mal,'' Smith said of Inglis.
''Back in the day, if the opposition kept him (Meninga) quiet he would not do too much damage, but if you gave him early ball he will terrorise you all day.
''We would be silly not to give him (Inglis) early ball.
''We have seen in the past if we do (give him early ball) out wide he can cause a lot of damage.
''But we are not going to force it. We will play smart.''
A man who rubbed shoulders with Meninga in the original 1980 Origin side - Queensland No 1 Colin Scott - admitted he was feeling a sense of deja vu watching Inglis.
''You can see it when he gets the ball in his hands,'' he said of Inglis' similarities with Meninga.
''Queensland have been blessed with some great centres.
''But with Greg, the more ball he gets in his hands the more damage he is going to create.
''Some guys are just made for Origin.
''NSW are going to have to counteract that - by the way, good luck to them.''
Scott added: ''I am just glad I am not around today because I don't think I would get a run.''
STATE OF ORIGIN STATS AND FACTS
Queensland vs New South Wales 1980-2013
At Suncorp Stadium:
NSW 56 Qld 16, Stadium Australia, June 7, 2000
Qld 36 NSW 6, Lang Park, May 23, 1989
Qld 36 NSW 6, Suncorp Stadium, July 16, 2003
Qld 30 NSW 0, Suncorp Stadium, June 11, 2008
36 Darren Lockyer (Qld)
31 Brad Fittler (NSW)
161 Mal Meninga (Qld), 6 tries, 69 goals
129 Michael O'Connor (NSW), 11 tries, 42 goals, 1 field goal
15 Greg Inglis (Qld)
11 Michael O'Connor (NSW)