The old cricket rivalry between NSW and Victoria is alive and well, according to one of the Blues' senior players, who has applauded the bonus-point system being extended to the Sheffield Shield final between the two teams.
If the match starting on Thursday at Junction Oval ends in a draw, the winner will be the team who picks up the most first-innings bonus points, rather than the side who had finished highest on the ladder.
"It's more fair. I think, historically, it's about one in eight years that someone will beat the top team so I guess it turns into a bit of a non-event," NSW spinner Stephen O'Keefe said.
"They try and promote it as if it's a Test, but history will say it's quite hard to beat a top team and I think this creates a bit of an even playing field.
"Victoria will have the home advantage playing at the Junction, but I like the idea of it. It makes it a little bit more exciting for both teams to push for a result."
The match will be just the third decider between the two states since the final concept's introduction in 1982-83 and the first in 11 years.
Victoria and NSW have clashed in Shield cricket since the first competition in 1892-93, with O'Keefe adamant the rivalry remains strong.
"I wouldn't say there's bad blood between the teams but there's certainly more niggle when you play a Victorian team," O'Keefe said.
"They are great competitors and I think they've shown over the last 10 years, winning four Shields, that they are a really tight unit.
"It's going to be tough but I think everyone is really excited about it."
Victoria won both home-and-away encounters this season, with NSW failing to get more than 179 in any of their four innings.
"We're going to have to bat well - that's going to be one of the keys," O'Keefe said.
He felt a few months back that this season would be his last, but said on Monday he would love to play on for one more.
NSW have recalled captain Peter Nevill and O'Keefe who missed the last game because of a pregnancy and injury respectively, with Baxter Holt and Liam Hatcher dropping out.
Squad: Peter Nevill (capt), Sean Abbott, Nick Bertus, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Steve O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Jason Sangha, Greg West.
Australian Associated Press