The pinnacle of rugby league is currently electrifying fans throughout the country, and Lion has tapped into the indelible link between State of Origin and beer by backing Blues and Maroons.
The State of Origin is for many the highlight of the league season, perhaps only surpassed by the Grand Final, between two far more localised teams and fan bases.
In Queensland, XXXX Gold has been a strong, long-running supporter of the Maroons, which have dominated the series for over a decade, winning 11 of the past 12 years.
This year the market-leading mid-strength is making the ultimate brand sacrifice, substituting its iconic four Xs for a series of years representing favourite Maroons series victories, as chosen by past players and the XXXX team. Each can tells the story of a series’ “memorable moment” (for Queenslanders).
The promotion is being supported by a TVC starring a missing Maroons legend, the recently retired Jonathan Thurston (below), with on-premise and in-store activity.
To the south, Tooheys New announced mid-2017 that for the next four years it would be the new beer sponsor for NSW, replacing a long-time sponsor of a more Victorian heritage.
Tooheys previously sponsored the Blues, during which time they won seven (of 13) series. The seven years under the recent sponsor produced only one series win.
The NSW Baby Blues, rookie coach Brad Fittler running on 11 debutants, proved too much for a weakened Queensland on Wednesday night, taking the first of three matches 21-12 before 87,122 fans.
Despite having only 39 Origin matches experience between them, the Blues came back from being 12-8 down at half-time to win what was NSW’s 50th game in the league. (Queensland reached this milestone six years ago.)
Despite superstar Greg Inglis taking up the mantle of captain from the rep-retiring Cameron Smith, Queensland were also noticeably without the presence of Thurston and the also retiring Cronk, plus jackrabbit Billy Slater, out with a hamstring injury.
Game 2 will break with the Wednesday night tradition of Origin, to be played on Sunday, 24 June.
NSW will have the home side advantage playing at ANZ Stadium, bolstered by hordes of hungry home crowds in pubs drinking New.