Unlike the majority of professional sports, the NRL’s annual State of Origin series commands attention.
Like many of the others, there is not much at stake, except for interstate bragging rights, but players at every grade of rugby dream of playing Origin for the NSW Blues or the QLD Maroons.
The fans actually care as well. Stadiums are sold out and television audiences can surpass any other Australian sporting event.
It may be that Origin is a series, rather than a one-off, but the months and weeks leading up to the announcement of the lists and the sense of anticipation is far beyond what All-Star games generally attract.
The history of interstate rugby competitions in Australiacan be traced back to 1908, but the State of Origin series in its current form came into being in 1982.
Since 2006, Queensland have won 11 of the 13 State of Origin series. New South Wales have won in 2014 and 2018.
The bookmakers offer plenty of ways to bet on State of Origin and even a dead rubber game will bring out football punters.
Months in front of the next State of Origin, the bookmakers already have futures markets up and the wise, all-knowing bookmakers seem to think NSW will back their 2018 win. As the next series comes closer, the number of markets will expand dramatically.
Odds & Tips
The simplest ways to bet on State of Origin are the straight or head-to- head, the line or point-spread bet and the margin bet. These three are listed in ascending degree of difficulty.
Straight or head-to-head requires only picking the winner of the series, or of each of the individual games. There have been only two drawn matches and two drawn series, so the bookies lack that edge.
They get it back right off with the line/point-spread markets. There are no half points in the games, but there are in the betting and plenty of punters will regale listeners with stories about how the side they supported won, but their punt was a loser because of a failure by the winner, in the case of a bet on the favourite, to cover the spread. Conversely, a punt could be a winner, even if the backed team lost, provided they scored enough points to be inside the spread.
Winning margin markets are typically offered as over/under propositions, such as winner to win by more or less than two converted tries.
Special markets will pop up as the day of a match draws near.
First try scorer, head-to-head specials where one player is chosen to score more tries than another selected player from the opposing side, punts on whether the game will go into extra-time, total match points, half markets, and more.
Some bookies will allow punters to pick their own line, within reason. They are not fools and they are in the business to make money, so they will not stray too far from the actual posted line without shrinking dividends to minuscule levels.
The bookies will supply ample promotions on State of Origin series. Some of these are variations of ongoing promotions, such as a chance to receive odds better than posted, which many bookies offer across sports and racing codes. The can be pretty creative with some of the one-off promotions that will arise closer to the matches.
State of Origin is the best of the All-Star competitions, such that it is easy to think other leagues should follow suit.