State of Origin will decide the winner between the NSW Blues & Queensland Maroons -bound to draw a huge audience.
With the stakes so high Nine is holding off A Current Affair to screen an extended 30 minutes of pre-show coverage and a special tribute to Johnathan Thurston.
Coverage will commence at 7pm AEST next Wednesday.
The voice of rugby league, Ray “Rabs” Warren, will call the action from the spiritual home of Origin, “The Cauldron”, Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, alongside Peter Sterling, Phil Gould and Paul Vautin.
James Bracey will host Nine’s exclusive coverage, flanked by rugby league Immortals Andrew “Joey” Johns and Wally “The King” Lewis, along with Origin legends Darren Lockyer and Brad Fittler.
Johns, the last NSW halfback to win a series-deciding Origin match, gave his insight into how the Blues can conquer Queensland on their home turf for the second time in the 2017 series.
“The blueprint was Origin I – they need to get through their sets and power through the middle with their forwards, who I believe hold an advantage. After they win the battle upfront they have to turn the ball back on the inside and challenge the mobility and fatigue of Queensland’s forwards with NSW speed men like James Tedesco.
“It’s really important that they cut out the stupid errors, and I wouldn’t go targeting anyone from Queensland in particular. It needs to be a total team performance for 80 minutes, and if they can do this then the shield will be on its way back to NSW.”
Lockyer, a former Queensland captain, said: “I think NSW played poorly in the second half of Origin II and left the door wide open for Queensland. Without Johnathan Thurston it’s going be a tough task, but that’s what we have always thrived on.
“Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt make their debuts, while Michael Morgan needs to step up as a playmaker in the absence of Thurston. I like the style of players they are, they’re all physically strong despite their size, and more importantly they’re instinctive footballers.
“I’m confident that Queensland can get the job done. Morgan, Munster and Hunt are genuine footballers who won’t be overawed by the occasion. Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater will make them comfortable.”
State of Origin – The Decider
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 on Nine
Sydney 7.00pm Live on Nine
Brisbane 7.00pm Live on Nine
Melbourne 7.00pm Live on Nine
Adelaide 7.00pm Live on Nine
Perth 5.30pm Live on Nine