Even though its been live on Sky Sports since the mid 90s, rugby league has never really taken off in Ireland in the way NFL or even cricket to a lesser extent has. That's quite understandable given the low quality of play of the British Super League and the comically bad Sky commentary and analysis. Mike 'Stevo' Stephenson in particular is a walking book of catchphrases such as 'claret' and 'stanza' but offers little more now than unintentional comedy.
However, Aussie rugby league is a different world. The skill levels and excitement of the NRL competition compares favourably with Super 15 rugby union and if you don't believe me, just watch this compilation of Kiwi superstar Benji Marshall.
The pinnacle of the Australian league is the annual State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons. It is widely regarded as the greatest rivalry in Australian sport. The best players from the two states face off for a three match series with game 1 of Origin 2013 kicking off at 11 am Irish time. The series usually produces intensity, drama and fairly brutal violence. The referees in Origin are quite reluctant to produce a yellow card, not to mind a red which often leads to the players taking the law into their own hands.
The Maroons have won a record seven series in a row with a golden generation of players including Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater. Last year's series was decided by a single point after a Cooper Cronk drop-goal and the Blues will be relying on the mercurial Jarryd Hayne and the hard-nosed Paul Gallen to finally get them over the line.
Unfortunately game 1 clashes with the Lions's match against the Western Force. However, repeats are on throughout the day on Setanta Sports 1.