2018 PREVIEW 🔍 Perennial underachievers? Our fifteenth preview is here. Andrew Ferguson assesses whe...
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VERY POORE FORM JUSTIN For his own sake as much as Steve Price's, Justin Poore should be so, so thankful that the veteran Maroons prop hadn't suffered a spinal injury prior to Poore inexplicably picking him up by the scruff of the jumper then dropping him from a height. Imagine the burden he would have had to carry for the rest of his living days had his foolish actions resulted in Price being paralysed?
This incident cannot be allowed to go by unpunished. I believe Poore should not only apologise to Price but also receive a monetary penalty which should go to an organisation such as the Paraplegic Benefit Fund. Sure Poore's intentions may have been honourable but anyone with even half a brain knows it is taboo to move someone who is lying unconscious for fear of causing serious injury.
It was poor form all round for Dragon players in the New South Wales side with Ben Creagh blotting his copybook with his embarrassing push and run in the dying moments of the game. To come in and bowl someone over than retreat at a pace is something the hulking second rower must be regretting big-time.
His peers will never let him forget an incident that was raised numerously by talkback callers to various radio sports programs. The callers - some who were even Dragons fans - were in complete agreement that it was a petulant and juvenile act akin to what transpires at a pre-school when infants squabble over Tonka toys in the sandpit.
The material in the shape of sledging that will come from the incident will last at least until the end of Creagh's playing career. Be on the lookout for jokes to appear in your mailbox. Ones like:- "What's the difference between a cyclist and Ben Creagh?" "One gets on his bike then pushes, the other pushes than gets on his bike". A MISTAKE TO RATE SLATER HIGHLY
Have you ever seen a player held in such high regard as Billy Slater make so many blues? He took poor form into Origin III with his match against Newcastle in Melbourne riddled with mistakes.
His catalogue of errors included fumbling the ball which led to the Knights first try, dropping the ball at the dummy-half, failing to attack the ball which led to the try scored by Aku Uate, fumbling a kick-through by Cory Paterson, dropping off tackles and badly positioning himself from a kick re-start that lost his team possession.
You add his absolute "brain snap" in last year's World Cup which virtually handed the trophy to New Zealand on a platter, and there is more than enough evidence to suggest as wonderful a player as he can be, the Storm fullback is very unreliable.
That horror pass that led to the try by Benji Marshall along with his "howler" on Wednesday night that gifted David Williams his try are major blunders that should not be associated with a player who some experts rate the best in the game.
As the nursery rhyme goes, "when he's good, he's very, very good, but when he's bad, he's awful". That's Billy Slater to a "t".
SELECTORS COMMIT ORIGIN-AL SIN
Brett Kimmorley's wonderful display in Game III should seal the fate of the New South Wales selectors. It was only through overwhelming public pressure that Messrs Daley, Fulton, Gerard and McCarthy relented and selected the veteran at halfback.
Kimmorley was so much on the outer that Laurie Daley did not want a bar of him. It created such a ruckus that respected Country Origin selector Frank Fish quit his post over the ignoring of the Bulldog veteran even though he was clearly the most in-form number seven eligible for selection.
Daley, the Country Origin coach, created further uncertainty towards the make-up of the Blues halves combination by giving one of the competition's form players Jamie Soward, a token eight minutes to press his claims. Simply not good enough and surely grounds to at the very least have Daley removed from the selection panel.
Despite his obvious deficiencies, I can see Daley and former teammate Ricky Stuart playing a key role next year in New South Wales' quest to prevent a fifth straight series win by Queensland.
The brains trust charged with the responsibility of plotting the Maroons' downfall in 2010, should listen intently on what Daley and Stuart have to say and than proceed to do the exact opposite.
I mean, you'd be filthy if you were a Sharks supporter with Stuart in his infinite wisdom, punting Kimmorley - despite a stellar season - and Isaac De Gois for the lesser quality pair of Trent Barrett and Corey Hughes.
The Sharks have recruited strongly for next season, and would have been a genuine premiership force with the dynamic duo of Kimmorley and De Gois - who is going gangbusters at the Knights - calling the shots.
FAST FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR
It's very early days, but there's no doubt in mind that next year's Origin series will be a very tight affair provided of course, there is regime change within New South Wales with a coaching set-up the same as Queensland's and a fresh set of selectors.
If the Blues want Craig Bellamy still involved then the only way forward that I can see for him would be a move sideways to fill the role performed so superbly over the past four years for the Maroons by Neil Henry.
That would necessitate the appointment of a non-NRL coach to be the counterpart to Mal Meninga. The candidates for this position would be Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Ben Elias, Mick Cronin, Ben Kennedy etc. I feel it matters little if they haven't coached in any capacity previously. You can't convince me that someone like Sterlo couldn't devise strategies and attacking moves which couldn't be produced in a game situation.
Looking to next year, fit and healthy the teams that I would select would be:-
New South Wales:- 1) B Stewart 2) B Morris 3) J Morris 4) Jennings 5) Hayne 6) Soward 7) Kimmorley (c) 8) Galloway 9) Ennis 10) Poore 11) Creagh 12) Watmough 13) Gallen 14) Gidley 15) Learoyd-Lahrs 16) Weyman 17) Houston.
Queensland :-1) Boyd 2) Folau 3) Hodges 4) Inglis 5) Tate 6) Thurston (c) 7) Prince 8) Civoniceva 9) Smith 10) Price 11) Meyers 12) Thaiday 13) Stagg 14) Hanannt 15) Myles 16) Taylor 17) Slater.
I have omitted Karmichael Hunt as it seems it's a given that he is switching codes. If not, he would come in at fullback with Boyd taking Tate's wing spot.