Interstate rivalry resumes in the Harvey Norman State of Origin arena with Queensland desperate to turn the tide of recent losses and give NSW a taste of their own medicine on home turf this year.
After four years of running out to a sea of blue, the Maroons' patience has finally been rewarded with the Sunshine Coast set to play host to the one-off standalone event following back-to-back clashes at North Sydney Oval.
NSW will enter enemy territory as the two-time defending champions under the official State of Origin banner, while they also held onto interstate challenge bragging rights for two years before that with victories in 2016 and 2017.
Prior to that, however, it was all one-way traffic with the Maroons holding a remarkable 17-year undefeated streak that began in 1999.
Despite the Blues' most recent success, Queensland are set to go into the clash as favourites with home ground advantage and the form of Broncos premiership-winners Ali Brigginshaw, Tamika Upton and Tarryn Aiken given them an edge.
Maroons return to home turf in bid to stop Blues' streak
However, it would be brave to write off the Blues given their stranglehold on the title in recent seasons and with the calibre of players in their line-up that includes the likes of Kezie Apps, Jessica Sergis, Hannah Southwell, Corban McGregor and Isabelle Kelly, who are proven winners on the big stage.
NSW coach Andrew Patmore made a statement before hopping on the plane to prepare for the away trip last week, leaving out several members of last year's winning side, including halves Kirra Dibb and Maddie Studdon.
Equally, Queensland coach Jason Hetherington made some difficult decisions of his own with nine fresh faces joining experienced campaigners like Brittany Breayley, Steph Hancock and Rona Peters.
Maroons: Rona Peters (No.14) will start for in the front-row, with Steph Hancock dropping back to the bench. Apart from that the Maroons are 1-17.
Jessika Elliston, Brianna Clark and Chante Temara were the three players left out an hour before the match.
Ali Brigginshaw will play lock just as she did in Brisbane's NRLW matches and the grand final win, allowing Broncos gun Tarryn Aiken and Zahara Temara to start in the halves for Queensland.
The Maroons will also field a new-look backline with Broncos quartet Tamika Upton, Julia Robinson, Lauren Brown and Shenae Ciesiolka joining incumbent Karina Brown out wide.
Blues: Keeley Davis has been ruled out due to a back injury so 44-year-old Kylie Hilder is a late inclusion at hooker. Brydie Parker and Kennedy Cherrington were also omitted an hour before kick-off.
NSW captain Kezie Apps has declared herself a certain starter in Friday night’s Harvey Norman State of Origin clash after overcoming a knee injury.
Apps is relieved to get the all-clear despite conceding she should still be in a knee brace after suffering a grade two medial ligament injury.
"It’s a massive relief, when I first went down with the injury my first thoughts were the NRLW but then not being able to pull this Blues jersey," Apps said.
"It was meant to be 4-6 weeks in a brace but we fast-tracked that a little bit. I’ve worked really hard and am just excited to just be able to run out tomorrow night."
As predicted, Corban McGregor and Melanie Howard will start in the halves with Botille Vette-Welsh promoted to fullback for the defending champions.
NSW coach Andrew Patmore has opted for a similar backline make-up to last year with Jessica Sergis on the wing and Tiana Penitani in the centres.
Chelsea Lenarduzzi v Millie Boyle. Premiership-winning teammates at the Broncos, Lenarduzzi and Boyle will put their club allegiances aside on Friday in a classic mate v mate battle that could dictate the middle.
Lenarduzzi was the best Maroons forward in last year's game with a handy 113 metres and three tackle busts off the bench. She was matched by Boyle, who produced 142 metres in just 31 minutes with three tackle busts of her own.
The pair are likely to be promoted to their respective starting sides this year and will not take a backward step.
Savannah surprises Sergis
NSW has scored five tries to one in the second halves of games over the past two years, highlighting their ability to come from behind against Queensland despite trailing early on both occasions.
The Maroons dominated possession (55%) last year but their completion rate deteriorated late to allow NSW back into the contest and seal victory with two tries in the final 15 minutes.
This is the area NSW will know they can get to Queensland, and equally the Maroons will look to limit their opportunities while capitalising in attack themselves.
2020 Veronica White Medallist – Georgia Hale
And another thing...
The annual clash has been played across 60 minutes over the past two years but will increase to 35-minute halves after receiving approval in September.
However, the six-again rule will not apply, with penalties awarded for infringements instead.