In light of Wayne Bennett?s comments surrounding the choice of his wingers for the upcoming Origin series, I?d like to make the case for Clinton Schifcofske.
Clinton is having his best ever start to the season and is arguably the form player of the competition to date. He has shone all season for the Raiders and his form simply cannot be ignored. Just because he is in the same position as Darren Lockyer does not mean he should be excluded or discarded.
Bennett alluded that Matt Sing and Shannon Hegarty have the inside running for the two wing positions and so long as Darren Lockyer has two legs, he will be the fullback. It?s hard to argue both points as Queensland have an embarrassment of riches in the outside backs but putting it simply, no player, not even Lockyer are currently showing the kind of form Schifcofske is. I?m not saying any of the others are playing badly, they just aren?t currently at the same level as the Raiders custodian.
Queensland without Shifcofske, lack a game breaking goal kicker and as was witnessed last year, part timers simply aren?t good enough in the Origin arena. It is probable, almost certain the goal kicking duties would fall on Darren Lockyer and while Lockyer is a competent goalkicker, he is a reluctant one. Michael Devere is the Broncos goal kicker and Lockyer gave up the kicking duties as he did not like the extra pressure and responsibility that came with the role of goal kicker.
This years series promises to be one of the best on record and with not much separating either side, an established goalkicker maybe the difference between hoisting the Origin shield or going home empty handed. If it came down to the one kick for the Maroons, could the banana benders live with themselves if they lost by a shot at goal? I think we all know the answer to that one. That aside, how could any side go into such a pressure situation without a recognized sharpshooter?
So far this season, Schifcofske has made nine line breaks and scored six tries for the Raiders. Personally, as a Raiders fan, I?d rather see Clinton in cotton wool, especially for the first Origin game as the Raiders face the Broncos no more than five days after Origin one. Putting my club allegiances aside, to exclude Schifcofske would rank as one of the biggest farces since Jason Croker was overlooked for the 1994 Kangaroo tour.
Clinton has served his apprenticeship and he deserves another chance after being unceremoniously dumped after just one appearance last year. To omit him would do nothing but rob the fans of seeing one of the games best talents shine on League?s biggest stage.