Mixed reactions have greeted reports that incumbent NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce will not be picked for game one of this year’s series.
Some say that Pearce’s likely overlooking for the series opener is the final nail in the blues origin coffin, whilst some are saying it is a blessing in disguise.
No one has born more brunt of criticism than the Roosters pivot during his state’s record winless streak, winning only three or twelves games.
Reports indicate Laurie Daley has had enough of the alleged ‘booze culture’ that has troubled the Blues and their preparation for years.
Last season star winger Blake Ferguson created turmoil for his coach and teammates when out on booze fuelled night in Cronulla with Origin teammate Josh Dugan. James Tamou was also dropped after being charged with drink driving.
The halfback’s actions have reportedly led to Daley’s questioning whether or not Pearce’s mind is well and truly on the task at hand, which is to end Queensland’s domination of the interstate series.
Already talk has turned to his possible replacement with Adam Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Jarred Mullen and even Kurt Gidley being mentioned.
Following last year’s series loss, calls were made for Pearce to be removed allowing South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds to take charge of the 2014 Blues side, and it seems those calls may finally be received.
Daley has been very public in his support for Pearce, going so far as to veto his playing City/Country to rest up for the rep series.
It seems as tho the last in an unfortunately long history of indiscretions for Pearce may cost him his beloved NSW jersey.
Unfortunately for Blue’s fans, no one has put forward a ‘must select’ case, and Daley has made it abundantly clear that Pearce was his first choice for the role.
This reported situation may also impact on the fate of Roosters halves partner James Maloney, whose combination with Pearce at club level was key in his selection last series over Todd Carney.
Both Adam Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson are in good form with their kicking for goal, which may prove vital if Daley opts for the inform Josh Reynolds at five-eighth.
Reynolds may again miss out if Daley wants to continue his policy of selecting combinations that are familiar with each other due to playing at club level. Hodkinson was over looked for City/Country which would indicate either Reynolds or Mullen would be front runners.
Benji May Still Be Held Back
Dragons boss Peter Doust has admitted that the club may hold Benji Marshall’s return back to coincide with a home game to maximise commercial gain.
You have to wonder how Dragons fans, who have been told Benji is a marquee signing and important to not only the season but the future of the club, feel upon hearing this news.
Desperate for a win, can you imagine fans outrage at having a fully fit player being held back, possibly costing competition points, to balance the books?
Benji was always going to be likely to return via the NSW Cup competition, but to hear his return may be pushed until a ticket sharing agreement is worked out with Souths, their next opponents after the Eels, will not sit well win fans.
Surely, with points on the line, you want your best side playing. If Benji is not part of that due to fitness etc., then fine, but to suit commercial aspects, that’s insulting.
Bird Misses Origin Despite Judiciary ‘Win’
Despite having the charge for his lifting tackle downgraded, Bird will now miss two games for the Titans, but will also miss Origin.
Reports indicate that the Origin game would not count if it had been a three week suspension, does this mean, because Bird is a certainty to play Origin, would the game he misses regardless for the Titans be counted or over looked?
Would a loop hole allow Bird to not be named in the Origin squad, thus serving his suspension in the Titans next two games, only for a late call up to allow Bird to play?
Before those up North start saying this would be unethical, is it any less unethical than cheering a NSW born and raised player applying his trade in Maroon?
Farah Perfect Against Gallen
I heard an amazing stat today, that Paul Gallen has never beaten Robbie Farah when both were available for their sides.
Surely this cannot be correct. Either way, it shows just how important Robbie Farah is to the Tigers. For whatever reason, it also shows that the Sharks have a better record against the orange and blacks when Gallen does not play.
Last season the Sharks ran up two scores in their wins over the Tigers, but with both Gallen and Farah named for Saturday afternoon/evening’s clash, the Sharks will have to overcome amazing statistical history to win.