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After looking at the 17 men that will be taking the field in the decider, it?s now time to turn the attention to the men behind them, the coaches.
Coaching the Blues is of course Phil Gould, one of the most successful origin coaches in history with 4 series wins ( 92, 93, 94 and 96 ), next to Wayne Bennett who just happens to be his rival coach in this series. Gould unlike Bennett is more than happy to get his mug in the papers and on the news, his views are also something he likes to get out there for people to hear. Gould?s record in the NSWRL / ARL / NRL may not be as impressive as the one he has in origin, but there is no doubting Gould?s ability as a coach. He is a master at inspiring his players, and making them challenge everything they do. His tactics on the field are well thought out, and were show cased in origin one of this series, when he sent his little men up the middle of the ruck. If Gould had a weakness it would be is inability to keep his opinions to himself. Some ask how is that a weakness, when you attack the very team you are playing against in the media you are doing nothing more than giving your oppositions coach ammunition to get his team fired up and in the right frame of mind. On this matter it is also interesting to note that Gould has done his best to do nothing but praise the Maroons when asked about them with regards to the decider, obviously he is aware of the ammunition he could provide Bennett as the Sydney media did after last years second game of the series.
Maroons brains trust Wayne Bennett is a complete contrast to Gould in the media, Bennett prefers to keep his opinions to himself and let his players do all the talking. Bennett?s coaching record in the NSWRL / ARL / SL / NRL is far more impressive than most coaches in the history of the game, and so is his origin record. Bennett like Gould sits on 4 series wins ( 87, 88, 98 and 2001 ), and the winner of this series takes the out right lead in the origin coaches record books. Bennett like Gould is the best motivator in the game, and is renowned for getting the best out of his players, both on and off their field. Bennett?s on field tactics like Gould?s are flawless, and very few people, if any know the game better than Bennett and Gould. Bennett?s tactics for the decider will remain a mystery until the game gets under way. Bennett is renowned for throwing a curve ball on the filed, the perfect example being the 2000 Grand Final, when with a team that had ground out victories all year, came out and threw the ball wide early in every set of six for the first 20. Another example would be last years opening origin clash when Bennett?s chargers came out and beat the Blues at their own running game, something not easily done.
It?s hard to split the coaches, at club level it?s easily Bennett, but at origin level it?s impossible to pick the better. Both men will have a huge influence on the game, and with both teams so evenly matched, it?ll all come down to which coach gets the best out of his players for the full 80 minutes. One slip up could decide this game, lets hope not, lets hope a moment of brilliance from the likes of Lockyer, Johns, Barrett and Tuqiri, or a demonstration of power from Tallis, Webcke, McKenna, Timmins, Simpson or Ryles decides this game. On the final whistle of course, if it?s not too much trouble.