The Queensland Maroons have dominated the best-of-three match interstate series since 2006, winning 13 of their past 18 encounters.
Once again Queensland will start favourites to win this season with a Test-strength backline and featuring the greatest names in the contemporary game -- Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva and Sam Thaiday.
Yet only 10 points separated the two teams in last year's fiercely contested series with the NSW Blues, under coach Ricky Stuart, levelling the series with an 18-8 win in Sydney only to lose the Brisbane decider 34-24.
Stuart has chosen some of the most potent attacking players in the National Rugby League to pit their point-scoring skills against the elite Maroons in a bid to get the early jump at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium.
Much will hinge on the playmaking skills of stand-off Todd Carney and a backline featuring Jarryd Hayne, Akuila Uate, Michael Jennings and Brett Stewart.
Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith, who will lead Queensland's champion team following last season's retirement of Maroons' great Darren Lockyer, has cautioned his teammates against complacency.
"The big danger for us is being complacent and being comfortable with what we've done in the past," Smith said.
"It would be easy to kick back and put the feet up and relax and think 'we've won six in a row, we'll just run out and it will happen for us' -- because it won't happen like that at all."
The Blues will again look to their inspirational skipper Paul Gallen to lead them to victory.
The Cronulla Sharks prop produced one of the greatest Origin performances by a NSW player -- 31 tackles and a running total of 211 metres in last year's game two victory in Sydney -- for the only Blues victory from the past six Origin matches.
"He's our leader, he's our captain," Blues hooker Robbie Farah said. "He's the player we're going to look to, especially during the tough times -- that's what makes him such a great leader."
Greg Inglis, who has been in outstanding form at fullback for his NRL club South Sydney this season, will break Dale Shearer's Origin record of 12 tries if he scores during the series in the centres for Queensland.
Queensland's coach, former Australian Test great Mal Meninga, will also be looking to extend his record winning run in the Origin from a current 13-5, more than his legendary predecessors Arthur Beetson and Wayne Bennett, both with 11 wins.
Despite Queensland's recent domination, historically there is little between the two fierce rivals. Over the 93 games since Origin's inception in 1980, Queensland have won 49 times and NSW 42, with two drawn.