Meanwhile the PNG Hunters have booked a place on #NRLGF day after a last-gasp win over the Sunshine ...
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BLUES, BLUES AND MORE BLUES
New South Wales continue to get it wrong everywhere - in team selection, in the tactics employed, in the structure of the coaching line-up, in the appointment of support staff. So where to you start in re-building the Blues? From the ground up and don't stop until you have completed an utter overhaul of the entire operation.
First task is to do what I have "banging away for years" for the Blues to do - adopt the Queensland coaching model. An icon of the game as the counterpart to Mal Meninga and a proven coach as his assistant to devise the game plans in the manner that Neil Henry has done so brilliantly for Queensland. My choices would be a Brett Kenny or a Brad Fittler (but only if Freddie loses his gig at the Roosters) and a Brian Smith or as I stated on this site around ten weeks ago - Wayne Bennett. Bring in Origin heroes to inspire the team. Steve Mortimer, Ray Price, Benny Elias and the like would be ideal candidates. Imagine a legend like Price - who took on the All Black forwards by himself - getting in your ear? If that didn't "fire you up" nothing will.
Whilst the current selectors cannot be solely to blame for the demise of the Blues during their watch, they are seen like the coach, as "damaged goods" and a complete change of personnel in the selection room is required as part of the healing process.
BLUES NEED BENNY-FACTOR
When I went public all those weeks ago with my call for Wayne Bennett to be appointed by the New South Wales hierarchy to fill the role that Neil Henry does for the Maroons, everyone "boo-hooed" the idea - dismissing it as pipe dream. This despite the fact I put forward a compelling argument none more valid than the fact Bennett had switched allegiances to assist New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney at last year's World Cup.
How the tune has changed now that the Blues have lost a fourth successive series and staring down the barrel of - incredibly as it sounds - seeing that number double. Calls for Bennett to join the Blues for next year and beyond is gaining momentum by the day. Even the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Webster is "jumping on the bandwagon" devoting a blog to that very subject in today's (Friday June 26) edition. No doubt it will get plenty of response from irate Blues supporters.
Bellamy has to go regardless, especially after completing a rare hat-trick, one that no coach would want to be link to. For the third successive Origin, Bellamy demonstrated an inept understanding of the use of the interchange by making decisions which cruelled his own team's chances whilst enhances the opposition's. The hat-trick was a bit like in cricket whereby the bowler takes a wicket with the last ball of his previous over and two wickets with the first two balls of his subsequent over.
It started with Game III in 2008. In the series decider, inexplicably Belllamy not only benched arguably the game's most lethal attacking weapon in Brett Stewart but left him there for an hour or so. Queensland snuck home 16-10. Game I this series, in another puzzling decision waits till the 55th minute to introduce noted game-breaker in Craig Wing who makes an immediate impact by setting up the first try and backs it up with several incisive runs from dummy-half. Then amazingly and much to Mal Meninga's delight no doubt, picks the unsuitable Josh Morris as a replacement for Wing. So with the game "crying out" for a brilliant dummy-half runner in the shape of a Michael Ennis or an Isaac De Gois, they could only turn to a young outside back.
SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD
Bill Harrigan, great whistle-blower that he was, perhaps the best ever, has to be relieved of the video referee duties for the final Origin match after two "clangers" in Game II. Replays clearly showed that the man they call "Hollywood" (not the great Greg Hartley whom shared the nickname) along with his partner in crime Tim Mander, got it horribly wrong.
Whether they were sub-consciously regretting their decision to deny New South Wales a try in Game I after ruling that Jarryd Hayne had stepped on the sideline, and this was some sort of recompense I don't know, but there is no question that Harrigan and his co-accused Mander were the only people on the planet that felt Queensland centre Willie Tonga had thrown a forward pass in the lead-up to the disallowed try by Ashley Harrison. A try that would have finished New South Wales off