Since they fell one-point short in the series opener, every fan of the NSW Blues has his or her say on how to turn the series around and claim an against the odds victory.
Most of the backlash following the loss fell on Trent Hodkinson. Although he was not the player who ran on the fifth tackle when a field goal was the smart option
He was not the player who passed the ball to a fullback, when the NRL’s premier field goal kicker is standing there waving his hands, catching a cold
The entire reason Trent Hodkinson was selected was the thought that he is the best in the business at slotting that high pressure field goal with a game there to be won, or in this case sent into golden point.
The debate will rage on as to why Hodkinson was not given the ball on two occasions when the Blues were in position, but what’s done is done and the Blues must look to winning two straight games away from ANZ Stadium.
As strange as the decision was for Farah to find Josh Dugan for the attempted one-pointer, it was the second strangest decision of the night.
Laurie Daley in his press conference virtually forfeited the Origin shield back to the Queenslanders, who I may remind you need absolute no help, when he stated that both the criminally out of form Hodkinson and a man who is yet to lead NSW to a series win despite numerous opportunities in Mitchell Pearce would be there for Game Two.
Everyone harps on about QLD’s loyalty.
It’s not hard to stay loyal to a spine that includes the likes of Slater, Thurston, Cronk and Cam Smith.
The out of sorts and out of form Cooper Cronk not only scored the first try but he slotted the winning field goal with absolute ease.
If NSW had a spine containing four likely future immortals then sure, stay loyal. The fact is, they do not.
I must admit right now, I am a fan of Hodkinson. I campaigned vigerously, not that anyone cares, for his selection last season, and am not so secretly hoping my NRL side signs him for next season knowing that he will come good.
That being said, he is not the man to lead the Blues to victory THIS SERIES.
If he does get selected in Origin 2 and 3 and does lead the Blues to victory, I will be the first to cheer the bloke. I like him. I don’t know what it is, I just like the way he goes about his footy, and I was so happy that it was his try that settled last season’s series. I will always be thankful.
However, Origin is NOT about being grateful, or loyal. It is about VICTORY!
Queensland get it. They have no problem tapping former legends who have been usurped by younger players on the shoulder when the time is right. They are loyal, but they are not stupid.
Now, I am not one to criticise without having a suggestion.
NSW selectors may look to a new idea. I know to some that this may a little, as the kids these day say “totes cray cray” but how about they… PICK PLAYERS WHO ARE IN FORM!?
Mitchell Pearce played well on Wednesday Night … AS A HALFBACK!!!
What do ball playing halfbacks love? Hard running five-eighths.
You want a hard running five-eighth who is in form? Look no further than Blake Austin, a player who scored a hat-trick in a game that is supposedly an “Origin trial”.
The man who has lead the Raiders revival. The man who will literally put his nose on the line to save a tackle.
Media pundits make reference to “Origin players” all the time. Evidently Grand Final winning winger Alex Johnston isn’t an Origin player, but that’s another story.
I don’t buy into the Origin player argument, I think if you’re good enough, you play, but if you’re looking for an “Origin player” Blake Austin is THE blueprint.
He’s big, strong, fast, confident, doesn’t take a backward step, and isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers. Not to mention that he’s in brilliant form in a side that isn’t setting the world on fire.
I wish he’d shave that beard, but once again, another story…
Blake Austin is the second player I’d pick, after a fit again Paul Gallen. Going back to players who have failed to get the job done in the past rather than picking an in form option is bewildering.
As for any other changes … Paul Gallen has to come back in, even if only 75%. Brett Morris will walk back into the side. Despite Tupou’s ability in the air, Hopoate does not deserve to be dropped. If Farah is out injured, PICK A GENUINE HOOKER. Ennis, Peats, Rein, it doesn’t matter, just don’t look to Kurt Gidley or another option who isn’t the first choice number 9 at his club.
I still believe Adam Reynolds should be selected at number seven if fit. His kicking game is second to none, and having led his side to a big Grand Final win last season, no longer has the big game jitter tag hanging over him.
Josh Dugan, Beau Scott, and James Tamou were absolutely immense just quietly.
One Or Fifty, It Doesn’t Matter
Post Origin, it was hilarious, and sad, to see the usual suspects take to social media to play the “oh NSW only lost by a point, and the possession stats weren’t even” card.
Try telling that to the players who put their bodies on the line for 80 intense minutes.
Try telling that to people who spent $300 to sit and watch that it was “only a one-point loss”.
The history books show a win for QLD. Whether it be one point or fifty, the fact is QLD take a 1-0 series lead with a home game as their fall back should they fail to get the job done in Melbourne.
Not to mention the fact that the reason the possession stats were the way they were due to mistakes, penalties, and the fact Cronk and Thurston had the ball on a string in the second half.
Evidently Cam Smith Is The Weak Link
It has been reported in the media that the NSW half time talk called out Cameron Smith’s defence as a weakness they could attack.
Yes the same Cameron Smith who routinely makes 40 plus tackles a week at club, state and international level, yet only misses one or two a game.
Yes the same Cameron Smith who has lead his club side to the premiership, his state to Origin victories and his country to World Cup success.
If running at Cameron Smith is the game plan, just hand the trophy over now.