Sky Blues happy to claim underdog tag for Origin opener

George Clarke |

Jess Sergis (c) celebrates scoring for the Sky Blues during game one of the 2023 State of Origin.
Jess Sergis (c) celebrates scoring for the Sky Blues during game one of the 2023 State of Origin.

NSW centre Jess Sergis is leaning into an old Queensland trope for the first three-match Women’s State of Origin series by declaring the Sky Blues are the firm underdogs for game one.

And Sergis would love nothing more than to head to Suncorp Stadium – a venue where many a NSW side have met their demise – and leave with an early advantage over the Maroons. 

Smarting after losing last year’s drawn two-game series on an aggregate score, the core of Kylie Hilder’s Sky Blues squad have spent the past two months belting each other at the NSWRL centre of excellence in a bid to reclaim the shield.

The growth from a one-off match into a fully fledged three-game series in the space of two years is an indication of the increasing professionalism in the NRLW.

And the use of the 52,000-seater Suncorp Stadium, where the NRL is hoping to surpass its record women’s Origin crowd of 18,275 (Townsville, game two, 2023) on Thursday, is a further positive sign.

Suncorp has never hosted a Women’s Origin game but it has often been a graveyard for NSW in the men’s equivalent, Queensland boasting a 20-7 record since the venue’s revamp in 2003. 

But Sergis is hoping to flip the narrative in NSW’s favour, claiming she wants to feel the heat from a parochial Queensland crowd.

NSW Sky Blues player Jess Sergis.
Playing Origin I at the Suncorp will help fuel NSW’s belief, Sergis says. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“We’ve been to Townsville and that was intense, but this fuels us even more,” Sergis said of running out in Brisbane. 

“Coming in as the underdogs is great for us because we can just focus on ourselves and ignore the outside noise. They can say what they want to say. 

“It fuels me a little bit more if I hear that Queensland chant – it fires me up, so I’m not worried.

“If we can go up there and dominate game one, which is our plan, we’ll be very happy. Especially to do it against the odds up at Suncorp.

“Getting the win by a couple of points last year – and they’ve got the trophy – they’re going to think that they’re the favourites going in.”

A win in Brisbane on Thursday would put NSW in the box seat to clinch the series, with Newcastle hosting game two on June 6.

“I just want to smash them up there as well and really give it to them,” Knights back-rower Yasmin Clydsdale said.

“Then we come back down here to Newcastle and everyone … is going to get behind the Blues – the Newcastle fans are crazy. 

“If we can put an impression on them (at the Suncorp) then coming back down to Newcastle is going to work in our favour.”

AAP