Despite plenty of superficial similarities between the early parts of the 2017 Holden State of Origin series and the last time the Blues won in 2014, NSW veteran Jarryd Hayne – who last played Origin in that series – says this year has a completely fresh feel to it.
Three years ago the Blues won up in Brisbane and came down to Sydney with a chance to lock up the series. Game One featured a starring role from a NSW mercurial fullback whose all-round blinder included a powerful solo try.
In that instance it was Hayne himself; this year it was James Tedesco.
Both times the Maroons were missing a star from the halves for the series opener; in 2014 Cooper Cronk broke his arm early in Game One, while this year Johnathan Thurston was absent with a shoulder injury.
On both occasions the Blues are simply weary of seeing Queensland hold the trophy.
But from an insider's perspective, the similarities are purely superficial, according to Hayne, who is very much one of the elder statesmen these days after winning in 2014 with a grizzled group of veterans around him.
"It's different [this year]," Hayne said.
"We had a lot of blokes there that had been in the series for a long time back in '14.
"Now [there are] a lot of fresh faces, the captain (Boyd Cordner) is only six games in, there's probably only a handful of us that's played 10-plus games.
"There's a lot of inexperience but the way we played up at Suncorp was unbelievable considering we lacked a lot of experience."
The previous win had some old heads in the forward pack in particular: skipper Paul Gallen was joined by the likes of Beau Scott, Anthony Watmough, Ryan Hoffman, Luke Lewis and hooker Robbie Farah.
The lack of experience this time though is countered by power and enthusiasm with a host of brash young forwards entering the prime of their careers with the likes of Cordner, Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic all in the Kangaroos set-up and leading the way.
"Everyone's just at that prime, the average age is probably 25 or 26. It's a real long queue (to get into the team)," Hayne added.
This article first appeared on NRL.com