It’s 7:30pm on Wednesday and the Blues have already lost their 8th Origin series in a row.
I should preface this by saying I’m quite a pessimistic sports fan, but I’m just glad I wasn’t stupid silly enough to go out to Homebush tonight to have to witness ANOTHER Queensland party.
New South Wales lost for a lot of reasons, not least that they’re playing one of the most talented football teams ever assembled. The streak, now 8 years long (or longer than a cycle of El Nino as I like to consider), used to be about the gulf in class. They had Lockyer and we had Jarrod Mullen. But over the last three years we’ve managed to find a consistent bunch of blokes to wear Blue, some of who are actually good enough to play for Australia, so what is our excuse now?
Oh yeah, we picked Mitchell Pearce.
Ricky Stuart was meant to be the saviour. Queensland had the Queenslander spirit and actually to their credit ran a tight ship that helped to build a rock solid culture. Stuart incorporated many of these same tactics, but aimed too small. He talked about winning “one game” and in the end, that’s all we could do. Then before he could actually start to reap the rewards of his regime, he takes off to the Eels. Can you imagine Mal doing that?
Then we get Laurie Daley in whose only previous head coaching experience were figurehead roles with Country origin and the Indigenous All-stars. How does he know how to run a football team? At least Stuart had experience.
Oh yeah, and he picked Josh Reynolds as a back-up hooker in Origin I and II.
The notion of sticking with the 17 has long been a point of contention with NSW teams. We used to chop and change all the time – now we stick through it no matter what. Is it about pride? Not admitting you may have made a mistake?
Josh Reynolds was a terrible selection. The fact he was chosen ahead of Sutton is a travesty. If he showed anything in his limited minutes of football in the second game, it’s that he cannot pass both ways across his body, which is pretty embarrassing for a first grader.
Oh yeah, and there was no semblance of a game plan.
The New South Wales Blues looked completely lost out on the field for long period of the game. It seems the only plan for the game was to slide in defense and spread out in attack. There wasn’t a single “set piece”: no inside balls like Origin I when Hayne got over, only wrap-around. It seems that they were just hoping that someone, somewhere would be better than his man and set up points.
Queensland weren’t fantastic. Sure, they defended their line brilliantly, and for the most part so did the Blues. They were just a lot better at capitalizing when they had the chances. The stats on balls played inside the oppositions 20-metre line heavily favoured NSW, and would have done so more if not for the final few moments of the game. Both of their tries came from broken plays from Thurston and Hodges.
Oh yeah, and the referring was really ordinary.
The Blues got HEAPS of penalties, and rightly so. But they could have easily had more. Dodgy play the balls and high shots went missed, and Thurston’s first try looked to have a lot more obstruction in it then the commentators gave them credit for.
Oh yeah, and the Blues played their Grand Final in game I.
And this is why they really lost the series before kick-off. To see they way that team carried on after winning the first game was embarrassing. A wise man, John Singleton, once said you don’t celebrate at half-time. This was a line used mainly to stop employees at his ad agency from drinking at lunch, but it rings true here. You’re allowed to be pleased, but to sit around and smash beers in the sheds with your coaches and reporters when you’re only a third of the way through the series?
It certainly set off alarm bells in my head.
It got Tamou into trouble only a couple of days later and he copped a ban from the NRL which saw him miss the next game of the series. Promoting this boozey culture also tripped up Ferguson who hasn’t been cited since the night before the team went into camp before game II, except outside a courthouse.
The attitude of this team was completely wrong. They won one game – they didn’t earn anything. And after tonight’s error riddled performance, least the respect of their state that has grown sick and tired of being on the wrong end of the score line.
Given there will be two games played in Queensland next year, there is a strong chance I may again be writing the same article before Origin III. Or maybe the NSWRL will take the wake up call and stop hiding dickhead behaviour under the guise of “team culture”.