As a proud New South Welshman, I’ve been doing it tough over the last seven years or so. I’d imagine it’s much the same for many of my fellow cockroaches around this time of year.
For, even with our larger population and higher IQ’s in this fair state, we have been made to look like fools in one of Australian Sports most famous arena’s.
Yes, it’s that time again. State of Origin. And sadly I get the feeling I’ll be left hollow and embarrassed once more in 2013.
The Blues have big problems. From the top, they start with Laurie Daley. Nice bloke Loz, helluva player in his day, but can he coach? We’re all unsure at this point.
He has no club record to speak of aside from a brief stint as assistant to Nathan Brown at the Dragons all those years ago. He has handled 9 representative matches in his short career (5 NSW Country and 4 Indigenous All Stars) for 4 wins, 4 losses and a draw.
This is easily his biggest test and to me he’s already failed on a number of selections.
I hate hearing coaches talk about body shapes and picking well-balanced sides to counter what the opposition is doing. To me they lose the game there. Just pick the best 17 players in NSW in their respective positions and tell them to go out onto the field, do what you tell them to do and that they’ll win if they follow your game plan.
There’s three big selection talking points in my view:
1. James Maloney: Again another rookie with no experience at this level. After all the hard work NSW put into steeling Todd Carney for the cauldron of Origin they go and drop him for another guy who’ll need to earn his wings. Rarely does a player have a blinder on his Origin debut, and if ever there was a man who should know that it’s Daley himself.
2. Paul Gallen at prop: Why? He’s one of, if not the, best lock in the game. The reason he’s like that is because he plays like a prop at lock, creating an extra forward up front. The minute you put him in the number 8 jersey you lose that marginal advantage gained from having him in 13. And now we are one prop short in the rotation.
3. The love affair with “utilities”: When Kurt Gidley was announced in the original team I placed my face in my hands. Then I heard he was ruled out and thought Daley would bring in another forward. But no, now we have Josh Reynolds, yet another rookie.
The problem with utilities is that you’re planning for something that might not happen, i.e. an injury. At least with Gidley he was Origin-hardened, but Reynolds will be chewed up and spat out. The best utility in the team is Luke Lewis. He can cover anywhere in the backline and back-row, and he’s already in the team.
What’s the plan with Reynolds? I assume he’s there to give Farah a spell? Didn’t we learn last year that Farah can play 80 minutes and Buhrer’s selection was a waste? Is Reynolds going to come on and do a better job at hooker than Farah? No, absolutely not. Can he blow the game open from hooker? Not in a million years. If Farah goes down just stick Bird at hooker and tell everyone they need to put in another 5% if they want to win.
All the while Queensland are sitting back watching this. Big Mal is about to embark on his 8th campaign as coach and he must think to himself at times that NSW make it astonishingly easy for him.
NSW will most likely lose on Wedesday night because of a flawed team selection process which leaves them with little grunt up front. I would have selected the following 17:
1. Hayne 2. Ferguson 3. Jennings 4. J.Morris 5. B.Morris 6. Carney 7. Pearce 8. Grant 9. Farah 10. Tamou 11. Watmough 12. Bird 13. Gallen
Interchange: 14. Hoffman 15. Merrin 16. Fifita 17. Lewis
I’ll be reclining on the couch in my sky blue attire in the hope that I’m wrong and Lozza can get our men over the line. Because it’s all on the line in Game I.
Chasing our tails at Suncorp Stadium in 3 weeks in front of 54,000 Bundy Rum infused Queenslanders is the last thing this state needs.