'Boring': Paul Kent blasts NRL over State of Origin build-up

Blues coach Brad Fittler (pictured right) during State of Origin training and Maroons coach Billy Slater (pictured left) holding rugby league balls.
Blues coach Brad Fittler (pictured right) and Maroons coach Billy Slater (pictured left) have kept it cordial ahead of State of Origin. (Getty Images)

Veteran NRL reporter Paul Kent has taken aim at the NRL and players for 'taming' down the build-up for Game 1 of State of Origin between the Blues and Maroons.

The rugby league world is eagerly anticipating the first game between NSW and Queensland after the Blues won the series 2-1 last year with all three games played North.

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However, Queensland have an added edge this year with NRL legend Billy Slater taking over the Maroons.

But, according to NRL 360's Kent, this year's clash has lacked spice heading into the series.

The build-up to State of Origin was often teased with barbs from players on either side as club teammates put their friendship aside to garner the edge in the competition.

However, Kent feels the game is losing its edge with players and coaches holding back.

“We need to get the tameness out of Origin. The players are so disciplined and so desperate not to cause any motivation to the opposition that was get the most boring lead-ups,” Kent said on Fox Sports' NRL 360.

"Rugby league has got to stop assuming that people are always going to be there and that Origin is always going to be that game."

NRL reporter Paul Kent (pictured) speaking during NRL 360.
NRL reporter Paul Kent (pictured) has called for players to help build the excitement for State of Origin after what he called a 'tame' build-up to Game 1. (Image: Fox Sports)

Kent alluded to boxer George Kambosos and his ability to get the Australian public interested in his bout as a case for the players to start looking at to promote the game.

“Even in the lead-up to the game, nobody says anything,” he added.

“The last quote anybody can remember was when Paul Gallen was paid $20,000 by the NRL to liven it up so he came out and called them two heads which just set Queensland alight. The whole state just blew up."

Slater came under criticism for a rather diplomatic answer ahead of Origin when he was asked "Why do you think you'll win?"

Brad Fittler ready for close-fought State of Origin Game 1

NSW have also lost their major attacking weapons from last year in Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell, but insist their structure does not need to significantly change.

Regardless though, all signs point to a tighter clash in Sydney.

All bar one of the last 19 Origins at Accor Stadium has been decided by 10 points or less, with the only exception being the post-season match in 2020 where there was no dew.

Series-openers are also traditionally lower scoring, with last year's Game I the first in more than a decade to have more than 40 points scored.

Blues players training at New South Wales Blues State of Origin squad training.
Blues players training at New South Wales Blues State of Origin squad training. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

"It's hard to say (exactly how Game I will be)," Fittler said on Tuesday.

"Tomorrow will be a lot like it is today, there is a fair bit of wind around.

"So I am assuming the field might be a lot dryer than it normally is. Which allows you to throw the ball around."

NSW's Penrith core also believe they are well adept for the long grind if required.

with AAP

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