Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
IT'S not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. If the New South Wales selectors could ever give up their obsessive belief that "bigger is better" then maybe, just maybe, they'd pick someone like Alan Tongue. The Blues weren't beaten by bulk, they were outgunned by a Queensland side that was more passionate, more aggressive and which displayed more intensity. Maroons lock Dallas Johnson was the smallest forward out there, but he belted his rivals in defence, saving his biggest hits for Storm teammate Brett White. And therein lies the major difference between the two sides. Go over the tapes since its inception in 1980, and there is clear evidence that when clubmates clash in origin, it's the player in the Maroon jersey who gets the upperhand. Artie Beetson set the precendent when he thumped Parramatta teammate Mick Cronin in the first ever origin. Last Wednesday night, Nate Myles gave it to his Rooster buddies Anthony Tupou, Braith Anasta and Anthony Minichiello. On one occasion when Myles tackled Anasta, they almost came to blows, and who was the aggressor? Nate of course. Tongue can be New South Wales' "Johnson". The best compliment you could give the inspirational Raider captain, is he plays every club game like a Queenslander plays an origin match, with relentless uptempo intensity. Just as Johnson lifts his teammates by playing way above his weight, Tongue is the same at club level and nothing would change if he were to get the call-up. All those so called experts out there who made the Raiders favourites for the spoon, obviously didn't take into account the influence of a leader like Tongue. He only knows two speeds, "frenetic" and "frenetica". His presence alone would raise the performances of those around him. They talk about Nathan Hindmarsh's "motor". I think Tongue's would have even more revs to the minute than Hindmarsh's and that is saying something.
And he's not just a tackling machine, his good leg speed has led to several tries and as for his harassing skills, they're the best in the NRL. Imagine how much of a pest he would be to the Maroons kickers Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurston and Darren Lockyer. He would drive them "bananas", and we're talking the big buggers like you find where else but Queensland. It would be a case of irritating one play, down right pain in the arsenal of the Maroons' trio the next. Yes, I have left him out of my Wizard Blues New South Wales' team for Game Two, but I'm prepared to put my hand up and say "it would be wrong not to include him" probably at the expense of Paul Gallen, who could revert to the bench. So come on New South Wales selectors throw out the scales and measuring tape, and get hold of a device that measures good old fashion "ticker". But warning, when you test the Tongue-ster stand clear because he'll blow the needle off the dial. And surely the Canberra Raiders captain's rather unique surname adds further weight to his inclusion He is a sub-editor's dream. Select Tongue then get former Maroons winger Les Kiss to comment. That's gold....journalism style!