Far North massacre: Maroons smashed in Origin opener
This wasn't State of Origin.
This was torture in the tropics.
Paul Green's debut as Queensland coach turned to disaster as the fast, furious and ferocious Blues ripped the Maroons apart in a ruthless 50-6 cakewalk to draw first blood in the Origin series opener in Townsville.
It was NSW's biggest ever win against Queensland, eclipsing their 56-16 rout at Homebush in 2000 as Blues trio Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and Brian To'o mauled the Maroons with seven tries between them.
Tommy 'Turbo' celebrated his second Origin hat-trick in three games, while To'o and Mitchell picked up doubles to leave Green's Maroons in tatters as they fight to save the series in the return bout at Suncorp on June 27.
The injury-hit Maroons were hoping Origin's debut at Queensland Country Bank Stadium before 27,533 fans would be the perfect platform to launch their title defence following last year's epic boilover under Wayne Bennett.
PLAYER RATINGS: Who starred and who failed? Have your say
But the gutted Maroons were left to digest an Origin massacre with three Maroons - Mo Fotuaika, Kyle Feldt and Cameron Munster - placed on report as Queensland were left floundering in the Townsville furnace.
Fotuaika was booked for a late shot on Mitchell in the 22nd minute, Feldt (48th) was reported for hitting Cameron Murray and Munster (57th) was in hot water for lashing out with his feet.
Maroons mentor Green has a monster migraine.
Wherever he looked, Queensland were outclassed, belted in midfield, sloppy in attack and burned on the edges by one of the fastest NSW backlines in Origin history.
"We are a pretty shattered group," Green said.
"We got beaten to the punch early in that game, they really dominated around the ruck.
"We had a plan to stop them (NSW's backs) but clearly it didn't work."
Too slick. Too fast. Too sharp.
Queensland simply couldn't cope with the Blues' up-tempo style as Damien Cook, Trbojevic, James Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr and Mitchell sliced-and-diced the Maroons across the park.
The reality is Queensland don't possess the Blues' posse of strike weapons.
For the Maroons to have any hope of competing with NSW in this series, they need to win the middle-third to nullify NSW's pace and power.
There were question marks about the Blues' pack but Queensland's forwards failed to aim up.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui struggled to impose his 197cm frame.
David Fifita should have been a wrecking ball on the edges but he was well-contained.
One of the few shining lights was rookie prop Mo Fotuaika, who tried his heart out with 14 runs and 108 metres off the bench.
"We couldn't get any control, once we were uncomfortable we tried to trick our way out of it," Green said.
"We needed to tighten up in defence, but we looked for an easy way out and at Origin level there is no easy way.
"We can't make soft excuses. We have to learn from this and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Queensland's playmaking spine of Valentine Holmes, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Harry Grant struggled to combine from the outset.
Grant and Munster hadn't played for a month due to injuries and they looked as rusty as an old gate, while Cherry-Evans rarely enjoyed front-foot ball as the Blues took control of the midfield.
"I am pretty shattered," Cherry-Evans said.
"We have to look at our preparation, not just our execution, but I still believe we have the right people to fix it.
"Tonight's damage was pretty big, but it's only 1-0 and there are two games to go. We can turn the tide."
While Queensland were comprehensively outgunned, their hopes weren't helped by the early loss of chief enforcer Christian Welch, who lasted just 13 minutes.
The Storm prop clashed heads with Brian To'o making a tackle on the NSW debutant and he was taken from the field for a HIA after his knees wobbled as he tried to get back into the defensive line.
He subsequently failed the assessment, throwing Queensland's front-row rotation into chaos.
Welch could only contribute one run and 11 metres.
AT THE X-ROADS
Rookie Maroons winger Xavier Coates is in danger of being axed for Game Two.
Coates struggled to get into the game as he centre teammate Dane Gagai were carved up on Queensland's right edge by Mitchell and To'o.
The Blues duo had 217 metres and 10 tackle busts between them in the first half alone, with To'o scoring twice inside 27 minutes as Queensland's shoddy midfield defence put pressure on Coates and Gagai.
Coates raced in-field for To'o's second try and then inexplicably spilled a bomb for Mitchell's 61st minute try which summed up Queensland's horror night.
GOULD GETS WEIRD
Phil Gould was the centre of attention after launching into a bizarre opener that referenced a passage from Game of Thrones.
"There was a passage I read in the Game of Thrones many years ago of a conversation between the father and his son," Gould said.
"The son asked is it possible for a man to still be considered brave when on the inside he is truly afraid? To which his father replied - when you're truly afraid, that is the only time a man can be brave and that's what you will see tonight.
"Nerves, insecurity, fear, it will give way to courage and bravery."
Read the full speech in the blog below.
Originally published as Far North massacre: Maroons smashed in Origin opener