Huge impact if NSW wins State of Origin

CLASH: Celeste Goodwin and Mitchell Wilson get ready for the big night of the State of Origin.
CLASH: Celeste Goodwin and Mitchell Wilson get ready for the big night of the State of Origin. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

WITH eight painful State of Origin losses under our belt, morale across the state will receive a boost if NSW manages to snatch the series from Queensland tonight.

Southern Cross University psychology lecturer and researcher James Donnelly says even if NSW wins it's unlikely to be wholly accepted by disgruntled Queenslanders.

"It's a very exciting time for people in both states. Fans really identify with the players involved," Dr Donnelly said.

"For NSW, it's been like waiting for a very long time for a drink of water. Fans and players would be getting pretty thirsty by now.

"Of course, if Queensland loses, people will still tightly hold on to their wins. The losing team may try to find reasons this win didn't mean anything and didn't count.

"They will psychologically manage the loss by marking it in their minds as an accident, as not mattering."

Dr Donnelly said tonight would be a special time for fans, who find escapism in top-tier rugby league matches.

"People who haven't got too much excitement going on, they've got kids to raise and jobs to go to, this is something they can really get behind," he said.

"For people to place importance on it, it'll make them feel really good for a while before they return to their everyday lives.

"But every time they find a Queensland player or a reminder of the win it'll reinforce those positive feelings."

Dr Donnelly said if he sat down for a pre-match psychology session with players he would remind them to find a mental image of success to grip onto for motivation.

"Sport at the elite level is a full-time job and if you're doing it right you're paying attention to everything to do with your body," he said.

"There's always someone behind you wanting to take your job. Because Origin is so big the pressure will be heightened.

"I think I would help the players get in touch with why exactly they're here.

"They need to relive successful moments in the past to have it come naturally from their own heart and gut."

State of Origin will kick off at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, tonight at 8pm..

Topics:  state of origin

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