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State of Origin Game 1 Man of the Match Tips - Who will be best on ground?

  • Who will be named man of the match in Game 1?
  • State of Origin 2020 kicks off on Wednesday, November 3
  • Our three selections for man of the match
Josh Papalii origin
Josh Papalii is a man of the match contender (Getty Images)
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Who will take the early advantage with a man of the match display in Game 1 between New South Wales and Queensland?

With New South Wales short priced favourites to win the series, the Blues players dominate the betting for Man Of The Match. That list is led by James Tedesco, the $5 favourite, ahead of Luke Keary and Nathan Cleary at $6.

Our three contenders for the man of the match award:

Josh Papalii

The Queensland prop has been in career best form throughout the 2020 season, leading the Canbarra Raiders to the preliminary finals.

A 182cm, 112kg wrecking ball, the man affectionately known as 'Big Papa' was crowned the Mal Meninga Medalist in 2020 as the Raiders best player this season, a reward he has now received for the third time in his career.

A rock hard defensive player, Papalii is one of the toughest ball runners in the game, recording 44 tackle breaks in 2020 along with 1207.7 post contact metres and 24 offloads.

Since moving to the front-row, Papalii has dominated his opposition and if the Queensland Maroons are to upset the Blues in Game 1, Papalii will need to dominate the Blues pack and lay the platform for his star halves.

Nathan Cleary

Hot favourite to win the Dally M Medal before his Blues team-mate Jack Wighton took out the award in controversial fashion, the Penrith Panthers halfback has taken the step from an exciting playmaker to arguably the competition's best halfback.

After playing in the Game 1 loss to the Maroons at Suncorp Stadium last year, Cleary was injured during the Blues Game 2 thumping which saw him miss the final game of the series.

At just 21 years of age, Cleary has already recorded 100 career NRL appearances and possesses one of the best kicking games, recording 27 forced line drop outs this season along with a strong running game.

Cleary didn't produce his best performance in the NRL Grand Final for the Panthers, but entering the Origin arena where he has already had success before means he will be leading the Blues side around the ground.

Dane Gagai

You can make an argument this bloke only realises he is a footballer around Origin time each year, with Dane Gagai always producing his best football in a Queensland jersey each year.

Since making his debut in 2015, Dane Gagai has scored 11 tries from 13 matches and will be one of the leading offensive targets for the Maroons moving out to the centres.

Boasting 58 tries from 203 appearances, Gagai scored 11 tries from 19 matches this season with his speed, strength and footwork posing a challenge for his opposing centres, recording 61 tackle breaks this year for the Rabbitohs.

If the Maroons are to cause an upset over the Blues, Gagai will need to produce his attacking best on Wednesday night in an arena where he has produced his best football.

State of Origin 2020 FAQs

When is State of Origin Game 1?

The first game of the 2020 State of Origin series takes place on Wednesday, November 4.

Who will be man of the match in State of Origin Game 1?

Our experts have narrowed it down to three potential best on ground. Josh Papalii, Nathan Cleary and Dane Gagai are our selections.

What is the Wally Lewis Medal?

The Wally Lewis Medal is awarded to the man of the series in State Of Origin each year. It is named after Wally Lewis who recorded most awards in Origin history.

How can I live stream the 2020 State of Origin series?

Check out our live streaming hub to see how you can view the State of Origin series.



Our three selections for the man of the match award in Game 1.

Best Bet: Josh Papalii Man of the Match @2000 at BetMGM - 1 Unit
Next Best Bet: Nathan Cleary Man of the Match @550 at bet365 Sport NJ - 1 Unit
Value Bet: Dane Gagai Man of the Match @5000 at Borgata Sports - 1 Unit

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