Well, here we go again…
New South Wales is going into another State Of Origin series hopeful it can break Queenslands winning streak. We have a coach who is untested at this level and a few new additions to the side. We hope its enough to finally get over the top of Queensland, but we won’t know until the end of game one.
We haven’t heard a great deal out of the Queensland camp outside of the annual “Thurston has a virus” story. Queensland are rightfully confident but in that very Australian tradition of not giving your opponent anything to use as motivation, they haven’t really said much over the last ten days.
Queenslands winning streak has had an interesting effect on State Of Origin. It has almost taken the focus off their achievements and focused it on New South Wales failures. Everyone has an opinion on who should and should not be in the New South Wales lineup. Even the Banana Benders love putting together a New South Wales lineup they believe would be better than the one we currently have.
When I look at this New South Wales lineup I see some things I really line about it, and other things that worry me…
Like most, I welcome the addition of James Maloney into the side. He was selected ahead of Todd Carney, and while Carney was unlucky to miss out I think Maloney has had the better season so far. I also liked Todd Carneys reaction to missing out on selection. He was pissed off, he didn’t mind everyone knowing he was pissed off, and he went out in his next game and played out of his skin. In an ideal world Maloney and Carney would be my New South Wales halves.
I have zero faith in Mitchell Pearce’s ability to have an impact on this game. I simply don’t rate him as a top player at all. He might look like a world beater at times when the Roosters are on a rampage, but in games that matter, Pearce has never fired.
I’m hopeful that Jarryd Hayne plays well at fullback. In fact, I think that he needs to have a great series if New South Wales are any chance to win the series. I’m not too worried about Michael Jennings, but the Morris bothers so occasionally have lapses in concentration that have hurt New South Wales in the past. Having said that, I don’t think there is anyone better out there to replace them.
I have major concerns about Blake Ferguson. He is either going to play like a beast or be a disastrous selection. There won’t be any middle ground.
The New South Wales forward pack is simply better than Queenslands. You don’t lose too much with Robbie Farah at hooker and James Tamou has the ability to set the type of platform that can get New South Wales off to a good start. Paul Gallen will tackle all night while, Luke Lewis and Greg Bird always play well at this level. I do have concerns about Ryan Hoffman though, I think people overstate his form since returning from England.
The Blues bench looks great! Merrin has been in great form this season while Fifita could be our secret weapon. He needs to have a big game. You know what Watmough will give you, and I expect him to play big minutes, while Josh Reynolds selection as a utility back gives him a chance to cement his place, not only State Of Origin level, but potentially test level too.
How all of this will come together is anyone’s guess. As a long suffering New South Wales supporter, I just hope the team runs out confident and gets off to a great start.
The beauty of State Of Origin football is that we simply don’t know what will happen. Every scenario is on the table. Queensland have won seven series in a row and yet we can all honestly say that we don’t know what will happen tonight. I am going to a shot at it though!
I think New South Wales will win tonight’s game. I think they will dominate through the forwards although is expect Queensland to really try and work the Blues around the ruck through Smith, Cronk and Slater.
Queenslands kicking game will be a huge factor in this match. It is up to the likes of Hayne, Ferguson and Morris to be on their game tonight. If they can neutralize the Maroons attacking kicks New South Wales will be in with a big shot at winning this game.
Its not going to be enough for New South Wales to simply try and grind this game out. The last few years have proven that you can’t simply tackle your way to State Of Origin victory. New South Wales has to be aggressive in attack and take some chances. They can’t afford to wait for Queensland to break because it simply won’t happen.
At home in front of a sold out crowd, I think New South Wales will win a high scoring game 24-18.