Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
In a move that would rock the Sunshine State to its very core, what a masterstroke it would be if New South Wales secured the services of supercoach Wayne Bennett for next year's origin series.
To pull off what would be one of the greatest coups in the game's history, the Blues' hierarchy would be required to shed their egos for the greater good because come 2010 it could be crises time with New South Wales facing a potential five series losses in a row.
By next year the Blues will surely have realised that it must adopt the Queensland model by appointing a former great as head coach with Bennett in a hands-on consultancy role ala Neil Henry - a key ingredient to the Maroons' recent domination.
Bennett, who showed in helping New Zealand to World Cup supremacy last year that he is not adverse to switching allegiances, could be just the tonic that helps New South Wales repel the might of a Queensland.
Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney openly admitted that the six-time premiership winning coach was instrumental in New Zealand springing a major boilover in the final against Australia.
And New South Wales will be banking on Bennett to have the same impact in a similar mentoring role as an assistant to a Laurie Daley, an Andrew Johns or the like. Oddly enough, the appointment of the head coach as a counterpart to Mal Meninga would be considered secondary, such is the significance of snaring the services of arguably the game's greatest ever coach.
Bennett's public persona as a somewhat prickly character bares no resemblance to the person who weaves his magic in the domain that he is at his most comfortable - the dressing shed.
He relishes the challenge of extracting the very best out of his players with man-management skills that are, it must be said in Bennett's case, truly a gift. No two players are the same and Bennett better than anyone can not only identify that but importantly, has the ability to adjust his demeanour, his dialogue and his delivery in a manner which inspires the recipient to give him what he seeks - an optimum performance.
The age old adage that "a coach is only as good as the cattle he's got to work with" is true to a point but not in the case of exceptional coaches, and less in reference to Bennett. He's able to get more money for his pound of flesh when he takes his cattle to the saleyards. And that premium price is courtesy of the x-factor that is unique to the man.
If the Blues powerbrokers make this happen, next year's series will be the blockbuster to end all blockbusters. Just imagine it, a Queensland icon, one of the state's favourite sons, someone whose popularity ranks with that of the late great Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, plotting the downfall of the Maroons - they'll be screaming "blue murder" north of the border.
Poor old "Benny" will be ex-communicated from his homeland but I don't think that will stop him from accepting the offer. The great man loves a challenge and what better test of his ability than trying to mould what will be a new-look Blues outfit against what is developing into one of finest Queensland sides of all time.
It is enough to make every rugby league fan drool with anticipation. Suncorp and ANZ Stadiums will be bursting at the seams with sellouts assured.
You can trash the state against state, mate against mate promo and make way for Benny and the jet-set Blues.