Blues legend Ryan Girdler installs Queensland Origin favourites with two home games to start the 2021 series

NSW legend Ryan Girdler has turned up the heat on Queensland, installing the Maroons as favourites to retain the Origin shield because they have two home games in this year’s series, starting with next Wednesday’s opener in Townsville.

The Blues have named a star-studded team loaded with form players, but Girdler believes the Queenslanders hold the edge given they will host the first two games in North Queensland and Brisbane.

The Queensland government blew their NSW counterparts out of the water with an $8 million bid for Townsville to open this year’s Origin series.

Queensland’s chances of claiming consecutive series victories has received a significant boost with Townsville to host the Origin opener. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images

Girdler expects the Blues to embrace the “hostile” environment north of the border and has placed pressure on Queensland to win on home soil.

“The Blues will realistically go in as underdogs with two games up there,” said Girdler, who played 10 Origins for NSW.

“And with the quality side that they have, it is only fair to say that they would be expected to retain the shield.”

While some NSW legends and fans are frustrated that Queensland will host the Origin opener when it was supposed to be a neutral venue until Melbourne’s Covid-19 cluster intervened, Girdler believes the Blues will benefit from Townsville’s warmer conditions.

He believes the fast and dry surface at Queensland Country Bank Stadium will perfectly suit NSW’s fast style of play.

“I watched the Cowboys versus Warriors game up there last week and I think the conditions will be great up there,” he said.

“It is a good time to play footy up in Townsville and I think it could really suit NSW, who are going to have to play on the edges and around this really big and quality Queensland pack.

“It might actually suit NSW if they can take the crowd out of it and that has to be Freddie’s plan I would imagine.

“Of course, playing two games in Queensland makes it difficult and there will be more pressure to get a win from the first two games, but I have no problem with it.

“We couldn’t match the bid and they had to play two games somewhere.”

Blues legend Ryan Girdler says Queensland are Origin favourites with two home games to start the 2021 series.Source:News Limited

Girdler urged the Blues to emulate Penrith and Melbourne at an NRL level by testing Queensland with creative ball movement on the edges.

“The game has changed, and teams don’t have to go through the middle to win the ascendancy early,” he said.

“The likes of Penrith and Melbourne have had great success when they spread the ball from their own end and do it with a lot of confidence and cohesion.

“It certainly works at club level, and I think it can also work in Origin.”

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