NOT even the peaceful halls of our local nursing homes are spared the bitter rivalry between the Blues and Maroons in the lead-up to tonight's State of Origin clash.

At St Joseph's in East Lismore, a crowd of residents and staff was already hamming it up before the Round One showdown this evening.

Lismore could be under threat of colonisation by Maroon invaders judging by the numbers of Queensland jerseys on show - more than half of St Joseph's residents were backing Queensland.

ORIGIN TIPS

One 71-year-old John Drew was born in Wollongong, spent most of his life in Lismore, and never lived in Queensland, but proudly wore a Maroons shirt.

"My daughter lived there for years, my three grandkids all went to boarding school and university in Brisbane - and they've won nine and they're going to win another one," he declared.

But in the interests of competition he did want to see NSW win the second round - and that's all.

"Because they've got to get a crowd; they've got to get money," he laughed.

He said some friends occasionally hassled him for switching sides about 20 years ago, but it didn't bother him.

"A few will get up every now and again and say 'hey - what are you doing supporting Queensland?'; well I say it's still Australia, it's only across the paddock," he said.

Blues supporter John Weir, 51, was philosophical about the Blues' chances of winning this year.

"It's like a lottery ticket, it can go either way," he said.

"Some days you play good, some days you play bad.

"I think NSW could do alright."

"I reckon it could go either way."

Acting nurse unit manager Donna Kennedy said Origin was a "very big deal" at St Joseph's, but mostly good fun.

John Drew agreed.

"We don't fight, we laugh."

A few of the "die-hard fans" will be rolled out in their beds tonight while the sleepier ones will watch a recording tomorrow.


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