Preview of tonight's Challenge Cup... LeagueUnlimited.com - NRL & Rugby League A View From The Hill ...
30 hours ago
As a staunch Queensland supporter, I'd just like to send out a big thank you to Bob McCarthy, Laurie Daley, Bob Fulton and Geoff Gerard - yep that's right, the NSW selection panel.
Without the contribution of those four individuals, I don't think the Maroons would be in the position of chasing their fifth series win in succession.
Most rugby league fans, who know a thing or two about the game, would realise that the selectors from south of my border have come up with some bizarre decisions over the past four years.
I won't go into past deeds but whenever NSW announce their team, I respond in two ways. Initially I have a chuckle to myself and then I just sit there and scratch my head. It frustrates me - Blues' supporters must be at the point of hitting their heads against a wall (maybe those repeated blows to the noggin' explain the lack of intelligence below the Tweed).
But looking past my poor attempt at banter, NSW have made some seriously big bloopers again this year.
Firstly, where on Earth is Paul Gallen? The man with the best workrate of any forward in the NRL and the man who, only a few weeks ago, was chosen as one of the top three Australian backrowers.
Secondly, a specialist centre on the bench? There's no doubting Jamal Idris is a massive talent but how will Craig Bellamy get the 19-year old on the field? Rumour has it the coach will bench Michael Ennis, move Kurt Gidley to hooker, shift Jarryd Hayne to fullback, put Timana Tahu on the wing and then Idris in the centres.
This is akin to shifting deck chairs on the Titanic - the last thing you want to be during the heat of the Origin battle is switching players in playmaking positions. For starters, Ennis is an 80 minute player and NSW have tried Gidley in spurts at dummy half in the past - he failed miserably. They obviously haven't learnt. Origin isn't about the flashy plays, it comes down hard work and determination when the game is in the balance.
Thirdly, because of Idris' selection, NSW are one forward short. Having played in the backrow, halves and outside backs, Panthers' stalwart Luke Lewis is the perfect utility negating the need for a back on the bench.
However, despite saying all that, Origin isn't won on paper. And the beauty of Origin is even when you think you have it figured out, it always comes up with a surprise or two.
As much as they would like to, the Maroons definitely can't claim their favoured underdog status this season and question marks do hang over the fitness of Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston.
However, the Blues' State of Origin side as it stands at the moment doesn't really strike any fear into my maroon heart.
Once again, thanks to McCarthy and co's "best" efforts, the biggest hurdle Queensland will face in 2010 is not the opposition itself but a complacent mindset.
It's Queensland's series to lose and if we play to potential, half a decade of dominance will be ours!