Much conjecture has been raised about Queensland following the two thrashings handed to them by New South Wales in games one and two of the series. Some have even gone overboard and said the Origin concept is 'dead', and Queensland won't be winning another Origin series anytime soon.
How quickly do people forget? The past two years, Queensland have retained the series. They were competing in Game One until the pitch of Sandcorp Stadium injured their two strike centres, Hodges and Bowman, with the latter only being on the field for a few second before suffering the injury. It wasn't long ago everyone was whinging about the pathetic side NSW chose, including left-field selections such as Timmins at 5/8th. Everyone said Queensland would win the series 3-0!
One problem that has been consistently raised recently is depth. Queensland only have two clubs in the competition, and the Broncos are well known for hoarding all the top talent through their scholarship program, stunting player development. Just look at when they poached Scott Prince from the Cowboys, who was a star up there. Yet for most of his tenure at the Broncos he has been languishing in the Toowoomba Qld Cup side or on the sidelines with a broken leg. It's yet another reason why the NRL have to get off their bum and introduce another Queensland team. Gold Coast looks more and more likely of re-admittance for 2005/6 which can only be a good thing.
Even with the two club excuse though, there are still an abundance of Queenslanders eligible for Origin selection. I mean the ESL. Players the calibre of McKenna, D.Smith, J.Smith, Greenhill and former captain Adrian Lam are plying their trade over there. If they selected some of those players, they could quite easily walkover Goose Gould's one man NSW team. As for releases, they got one for Alfie so it would seem it wouldn't be too hard with some lobbying. QLD lack a halfback (Lam) and someone who cleans up in defence and does the crucial little things right which go unnoticed (McKenna & D.Smith).
Then you have the perrenial dropkicks that continually get Origin jumpers. Useless, overrated elderly thugs like Gee and Ben "I can't kick and sleep with Bennett's daughter" Ikin. Both are past it and Ikin lost the only thing he ever had which was speed. All other aspects of his game are barely adequate for Qld Cup, and the only good thing Gee has done recently is fluke a 40/20 kick. Ironically both should be punted to Group 10 or France.
In my opinion, despite his unsurpassed record, (one Brian Smith would kill for :)), Wayne Bennett has done his time as Origin coach. He has already been shown to have a conflict of interest as Broncos coach and father-in-law of Ikin. As soon as he goes, we get rid of pathetic dropkick, Ikin and Gee namely. Who's waiting in the wings? The main who's a dead certainty for Dally M Coach of the Year, Johnny Lang. He had a 60.1% success rate at Cronulla, taking them to three Preliminary Finals, a Grand Final and countless other finals appearances. He's also worked wonders with Penrith this year. He also has the guts to pick rookies, excitement machines and make the tough calls.
Anyway, this would be my side for Origin 3:
1. D.Lockyer 2. C.Schifcofske 3. C.McKenna 4. M.Sing 5. R.Wesser 6. M.Bowen 7. A.Lam 13. D.Smith 12. G.Tallis (c) 11. P.Civoniceva 10. S.Price 9. S.Berrigan 8. S.Webcke Interchange 14. D.Nutley 15. S.Sattler 16. S.Hegarty 17. B.Meyers
Punted: Ikin, Gee, Carlaw, Tate In: Meyers, Nutley, Lam, D.Smith, Schifcofske, Wesser, McKenna
Meyers has been outplaying Carlaw whilst Danny Nutley is a workhorse who is deserving of selection and can even create tries through soccer-style 'headers'.
Berrigan is a great defender and good running the ball, but he isn't a half. He makes a great hooker, where Queensland are lacking. Lam is every bit as good as Johns right now and with Bowen in the halves would add real spark in attack. Smith and McKenna are two of the best defenders I've ever seen and both do the little vital things right. Schifcofske is at the top of the Dally M ladder and Wesser is leading tryscorer.
With those problems repairable, things are looking fine. Origin sure ain't a 'dead' concept, and Queensland is NOT a spent force.
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