16 hours ago
WHERE TO NOW FOR THE MAROONS?
O.K. Queensland lost. The thing is that Origin is a 3 match Series, and the opportunity is there to bounce back. But in order for Queensland to do that, we need to ask... What went wrong? How can it be fixed? Firstly. The Queensland plan of bashing New South Wales out of the game obviously didn't work. There was no balance in the forwards with a lot of big blokes, but not enough mobility. Queensland also lacked spark in the backs with very few opportunities for line breaks. Allan Langer's performance must have been a worry. He was targeted by the NSW defence and while writing champions off is a dangerous move, perhaps Alfie needs to cop it sweet and realise that Origin football is beyond him these days. Queensland only looked threatening when Lockyer had greater involvement at first and second receiver. Queensland were also unimaginative around the rucks, and there was no springboard for a run of momentum out of the dummy half area. There were also fundamental problems such as an unacceptable missed tackle rate, however Langer was the only true serial offender. How can this be fixed? Firstly. Langer needs to go. Great champion that he is, Berrigan outshined him a mile tonight and is less of a liability in the areas of defence and potential fatigue. He needs to have a creative five-eighth by his side, and that person is Darren Lockyer. When he was at first or second receiver Queensland put together some plays and he combined well with Berrigan. Lockyer is a great fullback, but he is not needed there when you have someone such as Schifcofske who is a master of the kick return. He was solid tonight and has been in form all season. Queensland would lose nothing having him there. This would free up a wing spot which could be taken by Chris Walker. The man needs to start but on the wing he is less of a defensive liability. Queensland need some firepower, and with a more mobile pack, the ball can be expected to get spread a little more. This takes us to the centres. Darren Smith really didn't cut the mustard. Bowman should be back for Origin II and should be an automatic selection. Though more people are needed who are game-breakers, and Robbie O'Davis fits that mould. He is a fullback by trade, but in Origin he could easily slot into the centres. He provides some try-scoring potential and also allows for a good defensive set of centres. There is also the bonus of versatility in the backline. Travis Norton needs to come into the side. He has been in great form like Campion, yet unlike the veteran, he is a more mobile proposition. I feel that Buttigieg must go with Civoniceva moving up into the front row. Buttigieg is the kind of forward required for the old game plan, not the new one. Civoniceva brings greater mobilty to the front row. A spot is open in the second row for another mobile player. Chris McKenna played well and is a strong forward who also has a powerful running game. Moving him to the forwards increases the strike-power of both the forwards and the backs. Dummy-Half needs some spark and that spark should come from P.J. Marsh. A player in form he would bring a lot more to the team than Doyle. Doyle didn't do much wrong, but Marsh would be a better proposition that either the Cowboy rake or Campion. An alternative hooker/half is also needed on the bench though. Someone who can either go straight into a playmaking role or go into acting-half with Marsh shuffling out the the traditional halves. Many players could fill this role, however a specialist is really required if Queensland don't want to get into trouble around the rucks again. The Maroons could either go back to Doyle, though because of his poor form a call might need to go out to a player like Jamie Goddard. He would not be out of his depth having played Origin before, and would not only be effective in getting some go-forward around the rucks, but could be an assett in defence if Marsh's game in that area struggles. Steve Price and Chris Beattie need to be brought into the team on the bench. Both are tough players who can bring some mobility to the side. Better still, they are in form. It's a toss-up for the final bench spot between Carlaw and Webb, but with Price and Beattie already part of the interchange, Carlaw may be a better option as he is more of a back-rower than Webb. Neither will be required however if Wagon is fit, in which case he would start at lock and put Norton onto the bench. Anyway, the finished team after all that is... 1. Clinton SHIFCOFSKE 2. Lote TUQIRI 3. Robbie O'DAVIS 4. Paul BOWMAN 5. Chris WALKER 6. Darren LOCKYER 7. Shaun BERRIGAN 13. Daniel WAGON (fitness permitting) 12. Chris McKENNA 11. Gorden TALLIS (c) 10. Petero CIVONICEVA 9. P.J. MARSH 8. Shane WEBCKE 14. Travis NORTON 15. Steve PRICE 16. Chris BEATTIE 17. Jamie GODDARD 18th Man: Dane CARLAW I know Queensland aren't noted for making sweeping changes, however I feel these ones were truly neccessary. There are 8 changes to the team in all with only three players in the First XIII starting from the same position they did at Stadium Australia.