The State of Origin is an annual best-of-three series of rugby league matches between the Maroons, representing the state of Queensland, and the Blues, representing the state of New South Wales. The State of Origin series is one of Australia's and the region's premier sporting events, attracting a huge television audience and usually selling out the stadiums in which the games are played. State of Origin series have a reputation as the toughest, hardest-fought rugby league matches played anywhere in the world. Players are selected to play for the state in which they played their first senior football, hence the name 'state of origin'. In both 1980 and 1981 there was only the one match played for the year. From 1982 onwards a best-of-three match series has been played around the middle of the rugby league season. Since the inception of the series, total victories for each side are extraordinarily even.
Under State of Origin rules players are selected for the state in which they first played senior (or registered) rugby league. Players must also be eligible to represent Australia at international level. This has proved controversial as players, who are eligible for more than one country have chosen to be available for Australia in order to play State of Origin. Because State of Origin football is so highly esteemed, players eligible to represent Australia as well as another country often choose Australia not only to play for the national side, but also to play State of Origin.