Fozzie logic: The Maroons have had their fair share of off-field troubles under coach Mal Meninga. Photo: Getty Images
The pre-eminent stand-up comedian of our time is not Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy or Chris Rock. It's Mal Meninga.
“I’m very thankful that the quality of player in the Queensland side puts the game first,” Meninga declared in a not-so-veiled swipe at discarded Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce. “They understand their responsibilities and don’t jeopardise their positions or opportunity to be selected in the Queensland side and that makes me very happy.
Nate Myles was banned after an infamous incident in a hotel hallway. Photo: Getty Images
“Part of that responsibility is setting the right examples. This group of young men want to play for Queensland. I’m extremely proud of who we have in our team and that’s why they get picked all the time.”
As Fozzie Bear would say, Wocka-wocka-wocka!
Is this the same Mal Meninga who was bounced out of Brisbane's Down Under Bar during an Origin camp last year while celebrating the birthdays of Maroons stars Billy Slater and Cameron Smith? For trying to pour himself a beer? Behind the bar?
NSW squad for Origin I
The 17 players who have been tasked with ending Queensland's eight-year winning streak in State of Origin. Photo: Getty Images
Is Meninga referring to the same Queensland side that contained four players accused of dabbling in the potent cocktail of Red Bull and Stilnox for the dead rubber in 2009?
The same Queensland side that, the year before, featured three of its players - including current winger Darius Boyd and injured forward Sam Thaiday - who found themselves in an intimate position with a female in a toilet cubicle?
The same Queensland side that features Nate Myles, who has had a chequered past with alcohol, including a six-week ban while at the Roosters for defecating in the hallway of a Terrigal hotel?
Meninga's backhander to Pearce and the NSWRL is up there with Willie Mason's assertion last week that there are no excuses for young players to get caught up in alcohol-related incidents ... two months after he was charged and convicted and banned from driving for six months for drink driving.
The Origin circus is underway, with the Maroons coach firing the first of many missiles.
NSW coach Laurie Daley was too clever to wade into the debate after the Blues' side everyone seemed to know was announced at a luncheon on Tuesday, only offering that Queensland players "have had issues, too" and that "it's not just NSW".
With every series that passes, the excitement, hype and downright drivel that surrounds the interstate clash grows and grows. And, yes, we reptiles of the press are as much to blame for it as anyone.
Take it from someone who knows: there are only so many ways you can write that NSW will win this year, NSW could win this year and then, er, NSW hasn't won this year. Again.
Daley was asked about Pearce's omission early into his media conference on Tuesday.
"Is his heart in it?" a reporter asked. "Did he want to play?"
Get ready for six weeks of breathtaking questions such as these.
While most discussion was about the contentious selection of Bulldogs halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds - and the sacking of Pearce and therefore Roosters teammate James Maloney - it is the forward pack that will decide whether the Blues can cause the greatest Origin upset since Paul Vautin's Maroons in 1995.
If those rookie halves are to have any chance of putting doubt in a Queensland defensive line, it will have to come off the back of a dominant forward display from NSW.
They get that off a dominant Bulldogs pack, which can overwhelm and bully the opposition in the NRL.
In Origin, it rarely happens - for either side - such is the physical nature of the contest. But the Blues must find a way or Hodkinson and Reynolds will become a future trivia question.
James Tamou has been outstanding at times for the Blues in the last two years. Sometimes not. Aaron Woods has much to prove at this level, despite his form for the Tigers this season.
Storm veteran Ryan Hoffman is probably the form backrower of the comp. And he brings untold Origin experience.
There is no Greg Bird but Beau Scott is cut from the same angry-headed cloth. No Queenslander will be putting Beauy in the corner.
Captain Paul Gallen will play himself to a standstill, but also needs to realise he can't do it all on his own.
The bench forwards of Merrin, Watmough and Lewis are NSW staples these days, but the re-emergence of a prehistoric beast could terrorise the Queenslanders, or at the very least make them very tired.
Whether Tony Williams lives up to his nickanme of T-Rex - or at least plays as he has been this season - is critical to NSW's success in the first game.
Notwithstanding, of course, those fine, upstanding Queensland players who aren't just exceptional human beings - according to Mal Meninga - but have shown in the last eight years they can play a bit of footy, too.