We have more heart: Why the Blues will win Women's State of Origin

According to New South Wales Blues hooker Keeley Davis, the Blues have more heart and that's the reason that they are going to win the Women's State of Origin opener.

"We are a really tight knit team and we come together when it matters," said Davis.

But it's going to be one hell of a contest.

Queensland have made some bold decisions leading into this series with coach Tahnee Norris deciding not to pick veterans Steph Hancock, Brittany Breayley-Nati, Tallisha Harden or Chelsea Lenarduzzi. They have opted in favour of youth with Shaniah Power and Keilee Joseph set to lead a more mobile Queensland forward pack.

The Blues have also had plenty of changes in their pack; most of them reluctantly. Unfortunately several players including Caitlin Johnston and Holli Wheeler are out with injury and Hannah Southwell is still recovering from an ACL injury which saw her miss the 2022 NRLW season. That means that the Blues will be heavily dependent on an engine room of Kezie Apps and Millie Boyle.

Despite injury concerns, the Blues have some surprises up their sleeves as well, particularly with Jesse Southwell set to make her debut for New South Wales.

At the end of 2021, leading into a year which would have two NRLW seasons, Tarsha Gale made the bold prediction that Southwell was her player to watch and the teenager didn't disappoint, leading Newcastle to their maiden NRLW Grand Final victory in October.

Now Southwell is set to make her debut and surpass her sister as the youngest Blues player to do so in the history of women's Origin at just 18 years and 109 days old.

Southwell and Rachael Pearson will combine in the halves, for their first game ever as a pair.

Another player to keep an eye on is Emma Tonegato who has retained the fullback position; a position where in future there is likely to be plenty of competition from Corban Baxter and Botille Vette-Welsh.

Tonegato will be hoping to have more impact in 2023 than she did in 2022 and with her signalling an interest to switch to the halves, this would be a memorable way to draw curtains on her time as a fullback.

We can analyse the teams and their strengths and their weaknesses, but in the end State of Origin hits differently.

At the moment, it really is the pinnacle of the women's game and the quality of the fixture is evident in how close it has been.

Since the series was re-branded to State of Origin, the average margin has been just six points, with the largest win being the Blues by just 10 points.

Last year, the game went right down to the wire with Isabelle Kelly sealing the win for the Blues with just three minutes to go.

"It's really different from any other game, even from playing for the Jillaroos because it is a lot quicker and more physical," said Davis.

"No matter the teams on paper, it is always a strong contest and it is never an easy win.

"The other good thing about Origin is that everyone does their job impeccably; it is always the best women around you and against you.

"That allows us to focus on our own jobs and doing it to the best of our ability which is great and you can see some really great performances out of that."

That's why, for Davis the most important thing is making sure the team comes together.

When a group of elite athletes come into a camp, it isn't really about skills or running plays. These are elite players that don't need that sort of coaching. What it comes down to is teamwork and that's certainly been the focus for the Blues.

"There is usually focus on doing things together as a team, so I am sure we will be doing everything together," said Davis.

"I think coming together as a group is super important with Origin given the nature of the game.

"Everyone is very good in their position but you can always learn so there is a bit element of wanting to better ourselves too.

"There is a big emphasis on getting the group super close."

Davis is also excited to play at CommBank Stadium and it just might prove to be the advantage the Blues need.

Since 2018, neither side has lost a game on home soil, which means that who wins this series might need to be decided on points aggregate.

"I'm really looking forward to playing in Sydney with my friends and family in the crowd," said Davis.

"It was an incredible atmosphere in Canberra last year and I have no doubt that it's going to be just as good at CommBank."