The Maroons finally appear vulnerable after claiming 10 of the last 11 series.
Queensland will be without more than 100 Origin games’ worth of experience at Suncorp Stadium with Matt Scott (knee), Johnathan Thurston (shoulder), Billy Slater (overlooked), Greg Inglis (knee) and Corey Parker (retired) missing. And they will blood two rookies — five-eighth Anthony Milford and prop Dylan Napa.
Daley would have been forgiven for revelling in NSW earning the rare title of the bookies’ favourites for game one.
Instead alarm bells were ringing after Queensland earned the underdog tag they relish.
“It’d be naive to think that just because they’re missing a couple of their big-name players that they’re not going to be ready,” Daley said.
“I think Origin history, in particular Queensland’s history, on the back of people saying what you’ve just said (that Queensland are understrength).
“They’ll be as tough as ever, our guys need to understand that because this is the time that they like. They like it when people are starting to doubt them.
“But I can guarantee this team won’t doubt them and I certainly won’t.”
In his fifth year at the NSW helm, Daley said he had learned the hard way what the Maroons can do with their backs to the wall in an Origin career which also included 11 series as a player.
“I don’t worry about who’s favourites. One thing is they’ll try to find a reason to rally together and support one another and play well,” he said. “As I say to my team, Origin shouldn’t be about surprises.
“We expect the opposition to front up and be ready to go — that’s what we’ve got to do.” Another major motivation for Queensland will no doubt be skipper Cameron Smith’s amazing milestone.
The wily hooker will become the first player to reach 40 Origin games. Still, Daley backed a Blues side led by new skipper Boyd Cordner to nab a rare Origin I victory in Brisbane.
4 FINAL SCORE 28
1 TRIES 5
C Oates (35m) J Maloney (6m)
M Pearce (40m)
J Tedesco (52m)
A Fifita (55m)
J Hayne (60m)
0/1 CONVERSIONS 4/5
C Smith 0/1 J Maloney 4/5
0/0 PENALTY GOALS 0/0
0/0 FIELD GOALS 0/0