Will Walters wield axe after Queensland's huge loss?
QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters is under pressure to wield the axe after an Andrew Fifita-inspired NSW consigned the aging Maroons to their worst Origin defeat at Suncorp Stadium.
The jubilation over Cameron Smith's record 40th Origin game turned to humiliation as resurgent NSW inflicted Blue Murder on the bumbling Maroons with a 28-4 belting in the series opener.
Before a stunned crowd of 50,390, the Maroons were mauled like never before at home in a five-tries-to-one drubbing that leaves their remarkable dynasty on the verge of collapse.
NSW are just one win away from clinching their second series win in 12 years. And given the unmitigated Maroon disaster last night, Walters faces biting the bullet and injecting fresh blood to save the series in Origin II on June 21.
Maroons selectors chose to stay loyal to a slew of stars for the series opener and the show of faith exploded in their faces.
Starting prop Nate Myles, bench bookend Jacob Lillyman, out-of-sorts centre Justin O'Neill and back-rower Aidan Guerra are among the Maroons in danger of being dumped for the return bout at ANZ Stadium.
Queensland knew this clash would be the ultimate test of their constitution.
Without injured trio Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Matt Scott, their fusion of class and toughness was sorely missed as man-of-the-match Fifita and fullback James Tedesco did a hatchet job on the Maroons.
By full-time, the blockbusting Blues were celebrating their greatest triumph at Suncorp - eclipsing their 32-10 defeat of the Maroons in 2005.
Wherever you looked it was ugly for Queensland. Up front, they were mauled by Fifita, who scored a try, made seven tackle busts and charged for 146 metres.
On the edges, they were carved up by NSW's speed as Tedesco amassed a staggering 199 metres and 13 tackle busts.
Around the rucks, Maroons skipper Smith was quiet. And in the halves, Queensland debutant Anthony Milford was muzzled, his night ending in misery in the 53rd minute when he departed with a head knock.
Queensland battled bravely to trail 12-4 at half-time, but second-half tries to Tedesco (52nd minute), Fifita (55th) and Jarryd Hayne (60th) left Walters facing a Maroon inquisition.
The opening 40 minutes were quintessentially Origin. Fast. Dynamic. Fierce. Desperate. Frenetic. This game was so good it was almost perfect. In the opening 34 minutes, the Blues and Maroons completed 34 consecutive sets. Remarkable.
Amid the epic early exchanges, NSW gradually took control. The momentum shift was slight, almost imperceptible, but in the pressure cooker of Origin, where every metre counts, the Blues began winning the middle-third.
If one personal duel crystallised Origin I, it was Fifita's front-row battle with Myles. Fifita was destructive and dynamic. Myles was willing but ineffective.
It was Fifita's solo brilliance that rocked the Maroons, the 116kg prop pushing off Myles and Matt Gillett before slipping a sublime offload for James Maloney to make it 6-0 inside six minutes.
Given NSW's midfield edge, the Maroons would have accepted a two-point half-time deficit. But with 33 seconds left on the clock, the Blues landed a seismic blow when Tedesco put Mitchell Pearce over for a 12-4 half-time lead.
Ultimately, the night was about energy. NSW had it in spades. Queensland are in danger of decay. Changes must be made ... or the dynasty will crumble.