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State of Origin fans of both sides were left perplexed after Nathan Cleary played for more than 30 minutes while bleeding profusely from his cheek.
While the blood rule is generally relaxed somewhat in Origin, the sight of Cleary's bloodstained jersey was ultimately a bit much for many fans.
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Cleary was bleeding from the cheek throughout the first half after accidentally being caught by teammate Tom Trbojevic's elbow early on in the contest.
Blood continued to flow from his cheek until he was finally ordered to have the wound cleaned up just minutes before half-time.
The incident drew a significant amount of attention from fans online, who despite acknowledging the slightly relaxed rules in State of Origin, were nonetheless concerned about a player noticeably bleeding from the face for more than half an hour of game time.
Speaking after the game, Cleary was bullish about his prospects for Origin II, but was more circumspect about his chances of lining up for Penrith over the weekend.
“It’s just a cut, I’ll be there,” Cleary said.
“Not too sure about Penrith this week but I’ll definitely play at Suncorp.”
Penrith had their fingerprints all over game one, with the club's five representatives shining in NSW's biggest win over Queensland.
Halves pair Jarome Luai and Cleary combined to poke holes in Queensland's defensive line all evening.
Brian To'o also bagged a brace for the Blues, as Kurt Capewell scored the only points in Queensland's record loss.
Cleary and Luai brought their incredible 2021 form to the Origin arena, with their clear direction and composure taking NSW to new heights under their partnership.
The playmakers combined through the middle to expose Queensland's lacklustre defence as the Blues raced to their largest win in Origin history - 50-6.
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Luai had one try assist, with Cleary having three of his own along with nd a perfect seven of seven off the boot.
Cleary also showed pure Origin resilience battling through several stitches to his right cheek after collecting teammate Tom Trbojevic's elbow in a first half tackle.
In his 10th Origin appearance, Cleary fought through obvious discomfort to steer his troops to a record win over Queensland deep in their opposition's homeland.
Teammate Brian To'o also had a stellar debut, running in for two first-half tries and leading his team with 215 metres and two line breaks.
To'o also became the first Blues representative since 2008 to score two tries on debut, the last being Anthony Quinn.
Isaah Yeo was also impressive for the runaway victors, as Liam Martin also received minutes towards the end of NSW's romp.
Queensland's only points came through Panther Capewell late in the first half, as the regular second rower, deployed in the centres, stepped around his opposite number to score.
Capewell looked the most threatening of Queensland's backs but was ultimately outclassed and outgunned by opposite number Tom Trbojevic.
The Maroons' horror preparation followed them into the series opener.
Christian Welch was gone after just 12 minutes following a head clash and debutant Kyle Feldt then gift-wrapped the Blues' first try.
The winger inexplicably bumped opposite number Josh Addo-Carr off a ball the NRL's fastest man was never going to track down, the Blues scoring from the ensuing penalty.
Then Cameron Munster kicked on the last, not hearing the six-again call as they threatened an immediate reply.
Fumbles followed the hosts while Tariq Sims managed one of the passes of his career as the Blues crossed again.
Tom Trbojevic was as elusive and ever-present as Maroons fans feared, fellow centre Latrell Mitchell as devastating.
The Blues managed 23 line-breaks to the Maroons' 10, six missed tackles to the Maroons' 18, six line breaks to one and almost 50 more post-contact metres to lead 20-6 at halftime.
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