NSW hit the panic button
There is always over-reaction, always a little too much drama and always from the same people.
The wash up from Origin 1 last Wednesday night has been all of the above and then some. There has been a thunderous outcry for changes to be made to the NSW Origin team, the coach to be sacked, the selectors to take a big jump from somewhere very high, and of course for positional changes. This last point I can understand to a degree, but the others simply reek of a lack of appreciation for history.
The game itself was not one of the better State of Origin matches. Don't get me wrong... the intensity was definitely there from both sides, but due to the amount of rain in Sydney before kick off it was obviously slippery under foot. This always changes the dynamic of a game of rugby league. In a quick summary, Queensland handled the conditions better and our Blues struggled to push their game plan. The only critique one could make of the home state is that their scrambling defence was not what you expect from an Origin squad.
Others disagree. Others are of the opinion that the entire state should be crucified. The Sydney media have run a few opinion pieces that reflect this aggressive approach. Apparently, Brett Kimmorley is first to be sacked, closely followed by Brett White and Matt Cooper. The articles also say that Kurt Gidley will be moving to halfback and Perry to the bench and blah blah blah blah
... Anyone notice a trend here? Anyone see the real problem surfacing once again? Anyone?
Some critics are using the time-honoured tradition of asking former Origin players for an opinion. As expected, these FOGs have delivered and are also calling for change. A new coach, new captain, more biff and of course they all deliver the opinion based on the assumption of wisdom. Not one comment in support of the current crop of Blues. Some NSW fans have also, predictably, gotten in on the act. They want the coach Craig Bellamy sacked in the middle of a series and in some cases are demanding multiple changes to the team. Maroons fans must be giggling to themselves and this brings me to my point...
On every couch and recliner in every caravan all over the Sunshine State, there are cane toads laughing at the sinking ship that is NSW Rugby League. We lose one game of football to arguably the best rugby league team ever assembled and the knives are out immediately. The amount of negative quotes published in the media over the past 2 days has been astonishing, even compared to the last 4 years.
Perhaps it is understandable that people might be fed up with losing, or that they would feel frustrated by the ease of Queensland's victory. Even if they have nothing better to do than criticize, what will not help the cause is an inability to learn from mistakes. We have tried multiple combinations in the halves, every back rower across the state, the two best hookers south of the Tweed, and selected 20 year olds and 19 year olds in a vain hope that miracles might happen. Have we not learnt anything from the results?
The one lesson we need to learn, in an attempt to galvanise the state and hopefully restore some pride, is that we must stick together
. This approach should be adopted at every level. If it is, we would stop destroying any sense of unity within the team, we would get behind the men that came up short on the night and instill some belief in them to have another go and play without fear of losing.
This will ultimately address the single biggest issue from Wednesday night's loss. The Blues looked like they were expecting to lose. This fear comes from the culture created by selectors and fans. They have sacrificed any player whom they suddenly believe should never have been picked. Anyone see the irony here? The admission of mistakes has come thick and fast from selectors as they continue to disagree with themselves. This is what creates fear in the team. Furthermore, the possibility that some issues arise from a disagreement between selectors and coach simply adds to the division.
Please don't sack anyone, please don't pull anyone aside and tell them it's their last chance. This is not the way to win games... This does not inspire people. Please stop crying out for the hanging of coaches and players. Let us be honest and say that a) Queensland were the better side on the night; b) we all hate Queensland so let's use this to galvanise our support for New South Wales and c) focus more on players performing better as a unit, rather than pinning our hopes on individuals.
In perhaps the most painfully obvious example of why we cannot take these critics seriously... there is one comment used as a conclusion in one of these media diatribes. While it remains to be seen if it is one person's perspective, the comment suggested that Bellamy and his assistant, Blues great Andrew Johns got the side they have wanted, and that while Bellamy has copped the brunt of the criticism, Johns has escaped with little.
Brilliant. They are now looking for anyone to blame and singling out perhaps NSW best ever player for the next attack.
We have a long way to go, obviously. Not only are we blaming all and sundry for another heartbreaking origin loss, but we continue to look for more people to blame. Why? Is there anything productive about this? As fans, should we not get behind our state as we do our clubs? Should we not ignore the petty media outlets that simply want to sell papers and don't care who wins? Well ... some of us do care and some of us believe that supporting a football team means supporting them through thick and thin.