As the count down to Origin One continues, the QLD Maroons find themselves as big underdogs.
Injuries, retirements and horror form see Kevin Walters and co. struggling to put together a 17.
Calls for Cameron Smith to return to the Origin arena following his 2018 retirement are growing.
Pundits are rushing to write off those north of the Tweed.
No Slater, no DCE, no Holmes.
Greg Inglis, QLD's most influential player, and captain in 2018, was recently forced to hang up the boots.
Munster aside, all the form players of the competition will be wearing sky blue in 2019.
Simply put, QLD should be little to no hope of wrestling back the shield from their southern neighbours.
That's exactly where they love to be.
That statement may sound crazy but QLD looooove being underdogs.
They built a dynasty off it.
The future of the interstate contest was called into question more than once during periods of NSW dominance.
2006 was meant to be the year the Blues completed their fourth straight series win. They were just minutes from killing off yet another contest only for that pass to miss its mark.
QLD snatched an unlikely win, as huge underdogs, to kill the Blues' so-called dynasty dead.
The win kick-started the greatest period of dominance the series has ever seen.
QLD spent years bashing everyone NSW threw at them from Pearce to Hayne to Gallen.
Slater, Thurston, Inglis, Smith and Cronk orchestrated something the interstate series will likely never see again under Mal Meninga.
Mal spent years trying to maneuver his side into underdog status despite five possible future immortals in the side.
QLD love being told the can't do it.
Remember Fatty's kids?
The 1995 Queensland Origin side were a million to one odds... almost literally.
The large majority of the state's stars were ineligible due to the fact the Super League-aligned Broncos housed a large percentage of the best players.
NSW had a muuuuch larger and undoubtedly more talented pool to select from.
QLD was no hope.
... They won 3-0.
Obviously, you'd rather have the best players available, but even with the best talent this generation has ever seen the Maroons claimed to be underdogs.
The pre-match will be easy come game night: everyone is writing us off. Screw them. Let's show them. Queenslander!!!
Science can't explain it but players gain superhuman strength as soon as that Maroon jersey hits the skin.
Average to decent first graders become world beaters when that XXXX logo is on their chest.
Anyone writing off the Toads in 2019 is doing them a favour and has never watched an Origin series in the past.
No side with the names Munster and Ponga should ever be written off.
Not that QLD will admit it.
Ponga's a kid, Munster doesn't possess the kicking game of a Thurston or a DCE.
Ignoring the fact that Munster is leading the Dally M race and Ponga is set to dominate the Origin arena for the next decade.
Right now QLD is at almost double the odds. $2.80 to the Blues' $1.45.
Come kick off the Maroons will be out to $3.
On paper the Maroons have one centre, third-string halves, a halfback forced to play hooker and are pinning their hopes on a player who retired and has nothing else left to prove in the game.
Five-eighth is probably the only position where QLD hold an advantage. Maybe lock but I'd pick Jurbo over McGuire on current form.
NSW has held that advantage for almost every series since 1982 yet QLD holds a 21-14 series win lead.
This shapes up as one super exciting Origin series.
Mitchell, Tedesco, Cook and co. look ready to return some of the pain the Blues suffered over the past decade but 17 ridiculously passionate QLDers stand in their way.
The Blues will be ready for an absolute ambush come game one. They should be!
NSW should win this series.
The odds say NSW will win the series.
Try telling Queensland that.
The count down to the Courier Mail underdog stories in on. QLD are exactly where they want to be.