State of Origin: Why Maroons are wrong to target Hayne
QUEENSLAND began the week by snubbing the world's best fullback, Billy Slater.
Now the 'champion' Maroons are struggling to sell out the 'cauldron' Suncorp Stadium ahead of tomorrow night's series opener.
And if that's not bad enough for the Cane Toads, NSW star Jarryd Hayne is on the verge of dethroning Queensland legends Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis, as the most destructive player in State of Origin History.
Oh, and did we mention Queensland centre Justin O'Neill hasn't scored a try outside of Townsville in 13 months?
Ignoring O'Neill's impotence in attack, Maroons captain Cam Smith declared that after just three games at centre this season, Hayne's left edge will be a target in defence.
That is, despite the Blues most experienced player boasting 1592 minutes in the position, including a World Cup final.
Hayne has played 20 matches at centre including 16 NRL, three Tests and one Origin match.
But according to Smith, Hayne is set for a hectic examination, in what will be his first Origin appearance since the Blues drought-breaking victory in 2014 after returned to the NRL from his NFL and rugby sevens hiatus.
"He was fantastic in that World Cup,'' Smith said. "He didn't start the tournament there, but he came into that position and absolutely played the house down.
"But a lot has changed since then. He went overseas and played a different game.
"He's come back, but I think he's only played three or four matches leading into Origin, at centre. So we might be going down that edge a bit."
NSW coach Laurie Daley hasn't shirked from stating publicly that a large factor in his decision to select Hayne was his reputation to deliver on league's biggest stage.
And Fox Sports statistics support Daley's claim.
Despite Inglis boasting 10 extra Origin matches, Hayne can complete this series as the most destructive player in Origin history.
Already Hayne has scored the most amount of tries (nine) for NSW since 1998 - nine more than O'Neill, who has been unable to score a try for Queensland or club-side the Cowboys, since April last year.
Ahead of Wednesday night, Hayne has proven to be an Origin specialist, busting 121 tackles over 20 Origin appearances. He can surpass Meninga (128) and Inglis (132), with a dominant showing.
Blues captain Boyd Cordner declared Hayne ready and willing to produce yet another performance that only he can deliver.
"It's pretty well known he's a big-game player,'' Cordner said. "There's something about Origin that makes him tick.
"It gives us a lot of confidence, that's what sticks in my head. He can break a game open with one touch.
"You don't get too many opportunities in Origin. Having a player like that in your team will be really good for us.''
With up to 12,000 tickets remaining for game one on Wednesday night, officials are hoping to attract a crowd of at least 50,000 - which would be 2,000 short of a sellout.