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Origin fire ignites as Smith says hatred never dies

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Phil Lutton
"I can guarantee the hate for NSW hasn't gone out the window"... Cameron Smith. © Getty Images "I can guarantee the hate for NSW hasn't gone out the window"... Cameron Smith.

In an era of contrived sporting rivalries, Cameron Smith says State of Origin is keeping it real. No matter how many things change, Queensland will always hate NSW and the Blues will despise the Maroons.

It's a strong word, "hate", but one the Maroons captain was happy to trot out more than once in his final interview before Wednesday night's series opener at Suncorp Stadium. What has been a careful build-up from both sides has been dialled up a few notches as the countdown continues.

Coaching great Roy Masters used hisSydney Morning Herald column to catalogue a lifetime of wrongs dished out by the Queensland Rugby League over the years. And Blues captain Paul Gallen can't get enough of his jibe about Queenslanders having two heads.

Smith was reluctant to fire back on Monday, saying Gallen's comment was all part of the pre-Origin fun, but made it clear there won't be any high-fiving the opposition at Suncorp Stadium. Even after eight years of success, the dislike of the Blue jumper still lights fires north of the Tweed.

"There might have been five or so New South Welshman at the airport. I'm not too sure," Smith said when told Gallen was given a warm welcome at Brisbane Airport.

"But I can guarantee the hate for NSW hasn't gone out the window. In State of Origin, the feeling around the games, the popularity, I've never seen it so great. If you're there on Wednesday night, I'm pretty sure you'll see it towards Paul Gallen when he runs out.

"He's a good mate of mine, to be honest, but I did see that he mentioned that mateship is out the window on Wednesday night. There's no secret that Queensland hates NSW and NSW hates Queensland. We'll see what happens there."

Some pre-game fire will be a warm welcome to the QRL, which must be desperately hoping the stadium sells out after sluggish ticket sales on the back of increased prices. Officials are confident a late rush will avoid the embarrassment of empty seats at the old Lang Park.

The Maroons will wrap up their Sanctuary Cove camp on Monday, finishing with a relaxing game of golf before moving back to Brisbane for their final training run at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday.

Smith said everything had gone according to plan and his side - including Broncos centre Justin Hodges who was largely kept on ice throughout the week - looked razor sharp in a pair of opposed sessions against Queensland Cup sides Norths and Burleigh.

"All the boys are really good," Smith said. "It was great to have Justin on the field with us. It's the first full session that he's had the entire camp. He came through pretty well, so that's a great sign. From the way he pulled up, he'll be right to play.

"He's had his feet up for about five days, so he'll have fresh legs. He'll be right on Wednesday."

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