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PEARCE OFF ... HIS GAME AGAIN
Three Origins for three ordinary efforts, it seems patently obvious that Mitchell Pearce is out of his depth at this level.
The Rooster number seven had his poorest Origin on Wednesday night both in attack and defence, not to mention the cardinal sin he committed by not finding touch with the Blues opening penalty kick.
Pearce appeared lost both with and without the ball. He posed no threat to the Queensland defence, his kicking game was mediocre at best and he was palmed off on numerous occasions when attempting tackles.
I have been "banging away" for what seems an eternity telling anyone who wanted listen that the son of the great Wayne "Junior" Pearce wasn't anything special and his lacklustre efforts in Origin have vindicated what many thought was a harsh appraisal. I copped some flak for my remarks at the time, but it seems my critics are swiftly changing their tune and in agreement that "Junior-Junior" will be a solid performer at NRL level who is unlikely to rise above playing for City when it comes to future representative honours.
The solution at halfback for New South Wales lies with Pearce's teammate at the Roosters - Todd Carney. The reformed wild child has far superior skills set and would flog Pearce in a sprint race. Carney would represent a massive danger to the Queensland defence both in taking the line on himself and backing up any break made.
As an avid Maroons supporter I'd be glad if the Blues selectors stuck with Pearce, but in the interest of a great contest, I think they'd be mad not to select players who can prise open the best defences.
Todd Carney - who has given the Roosters' attack so much thrust this year - does that better than most.
Carney at seven, and much as prefer Jarryd Hayne at fullback, the out-and-out brilliance of Canberra's Josh Dugan, would necessitate the Eels flyer reverting back to wing - a position I might add in which he was simply scintillating in 2009. So good in fact, that he blitz his teammates in taking out the Blues player-of-the-series award.
BELLAMY'S BLUES JUST KEEP MOUNTING UP
Craig Bellamy's use of the interchange during his Origin tenure has been curious at best and positively inept at worst.
Can someone explain to me in a game that was hanging in the balance and was being played at a frenetic pace, that you only utilise one of your front-rowers for a mere ten minutes or so?
It beggars belief that Timmy Mannah was left languishing on the bench for such long periods, yet when he finally did see some action his cameo performance was so full of merit. Mannah bent the line better than any of his fellow props in particular Kade Snowden - whom Ricky Stuart in all his wisdom said "was made for Origin". Snowden had a disappointing match and unless he improves sharply is destined to join the list of one-game Origin players. Mind you, that's one more than I ever played and is still a fine achievement and something he will be able to share with his grand kids way down the track.
The shabby treatment of Mannah rivalled Bellamy's poor use of Josh Morris from the bench last year however, neither comes close to Bellamy's atrocious handling of Brett Stewart in Game III of 2008.
This should have been enough for the New South Wales hierarchy to end Bellamy's role as coach right there and then. We all know that never happened and Bellamy leaves with the worst coaching record in Origin history. His legacy - a paltry two wins from nine matches. But worse than that, when you look at the interchange in isolation, Bellamy's bungling in this crucial area of the game has - in my opinion - assisted Queensland immeasurably.
MAJOR OVERHAUL AN ABSOLUTE MUST
So New South Wales ends the 2010 Origin series with a spirited - albeit losing - performance in Game III. So where to from here?
It would be unfair to single out any one person or any one group for five consecutive years of failure - everyone is at fault and as such everyone must share the blame. That being the case, the only course of action must be thorough and across the board.
Everyone - and I mean everyone - associated with the New South Wales Origin organisation since 2006 has to be removed and replaced with fresh faces. That means the entire coaching panel, all the selectors, all the ancillary staff and anyone else connected with half a decade of failed campaigns.
The current selectors are all great rugby league people, but unfortunately their names will be forever linked to the darkest period in New South Wales Origin history. Same with the coaches used, team managers, trainers etc etc and of course, the bulk of the players.
First and foremost, the Blues need to set aside their egos and copy the Queensland coaching model. Appoint someone not aligned to an NRL club as head coach and have a John Cartwright, a Brian Smith, an Ivan Cleary, someone of this ilk as assistant coach. This pair along with one other learned individual forms your selection panel with the one proviso, the head coach has final say over any selection stalemates.
As for the team my early thoughts would be something along the lines of:- 1) Dugan 2) Hayne 3) Gasnier 4) Jennings 5) B Morris 6) Bird 7) Carney 8) Learoyd-Lahrs 9) Farah 10) Galloway 11) Gallen 12) Paterson 13) Lewis 14) Mannah 15) Scott 16) Douglas 17) Gidley. Lewis or Farah as captain.