Brisbane Broncos coach and former Queensland Origin mentor and star Kevin Walters has discussed the “weird” experience of playing against club teammates on rugby league’s biggest stage.

This comes as Broncos teammates and best friends, Queensland forward Patrick Carrigan and NSW Blues prop Payne Haas, prepare to face off in a crucial match-up in the State of Origin series opener at Accor Stadium tonight.

Walters, who played 20 Origins for the Maroons, expressed excitement about the Carrigan-Haas match-up.

“One arena where Payne hasn’t been as dominant is State of Origin; he’s had a bit of a lean period there the last couple of years for the Blues,” Walters said on Breakfast SENQ. “Knowing Payne, he’s a very passionate New South Welshman, he’ll be up for the fight tonight against his best mate, Pat Carrigan.

“It’s only the third time in their careers they oppose each other, and it’s a different feeling. We used to play against (Chris) Johnsy and Lazzo (Glenn Lazarus), and it’s really weird seeing them lined up, especially at the kick-off and breaks in play when you think, ‘hang on, he should be playing with us’.”

Walters also expected Haas to excel for the Blues, despite not yet having a breakout game at Origin level, and believed he was ready for the heavy workload Blues coach Michael Maguire might require.

“He played 80 minutes for us last week, showing he’s got a big engine. I’d expect him to play big minutes tonight, and the same goes for us with Lindsay Collins and Pat Carrigan, who can also play 80 minutes if needed,” he said.

Walters backed Queensland to win the series opener in Sydney, stating this team was “ready to win” a tough match at Accor Stadium.