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Next superstars to weave Origin magic

It sounds more like a Harry Potter storyline than a State of Origin campaign.

Queensland are hoping to reclaim their old magic in Wednesday's series opener but can't bring themselves to say their enemy's name.

Meanwhile, NSW coach Brad Fittler believes a new generation are ready to make their names as Origin greats with acts of wizardry.

Maroons coach Kevin Walters has pulled off a twist to rival author JK Rowling as his new-look Queensland team seek to avenge NSW's 2-1 series win last year.

After consulting mind coach Bradley Charles Stubbs, Walters banned his players from talking about NSW in the lead-up.

It is a tactic gleaned from coach whisperer Stubbs's Expect to Win manual but it sounds more like the Potter series where the heroes dare not speak villain Voldemort's name.

Walters has also, equally controversially, bucked Queensland's traditional love of underdog status by adopting another Stubbs tactic and spruiking the Maroons' chances, declaring his team "will win" Origin I.

It's a bold approach for a Queensland side that suddenly lacks star power after a decade of dominance.

Especially against a NSW side that appears ready to begin their own dynasty after snapping Queensland's remarkable run of 11 series wins in 12 years in 2018.

With Greg Inglis and Billy Slater joining the likes of future Immortals Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston in representative retirement, Queensland are blooding three rookies in Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue and 19-year-old David Fifita.

Walters has also rolled the dice by naming St George Illawarra halfback Ben Hunt at hooker.

Yet like Rowling's bespectacled hero, Queensland still appear to have some tricks up their sleeve with Newcastle sensation Kalyn Ponga making his keenly-awaited switch to Origin fullback, filling Slater's shoes.

And then there is the magical transformation of Daly Cherry-Evans, who has been handed the Maroons captaincy after only ending a three-year exile in Origin III last year.

While Queensland may be suddenly without their biggest names, Blues coach Fittler is adamant the stage is set for the next Origin greats to step up in 2019.

"That group of Queenslanders is now gone and I think everyone is saying who are going to be the next superstars," he said.

"There seemed to be a feeling that when those blokes go Origin would die.

"If anything the interest has kicked again. You now have the Pongas and (NSW fullback James) Tedesco and all these superstars coming through.

"Origin feels like it is at a point. I just feel like one side or some players could make a statement."

Fittler has no shortage of budding stars after injury and suspension led him to give Cody Walker, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Jack Wighton and Nick Cotric their Origin debuts, having already introduced a flurry of new players last year.

Hooker Damien Cook has reached another level and 2018 star Latrell Mitchell appears ready to not only live up to all those Greg Inglis comparisons but surpass them.

Yet a big question mark remains over the NSW halves.

South Sydney pivot Walker earned his stripes as the NRL's leading try scorer but he has never played with No.7 Nathan Cleary, who has struggled over the first 11 NRL rounds with lowly Penrith.

"If I'm coaching Queensland I am going hard for Cody Walker and Nathan Cleary," former Maroons playmaker Ben Ikin said.

It just remains to be seen what both teams can conjure at The Cauldron - Suncorp Stadium - on Wednesday.

© AAP 2019