After games one and two of the 2021 State Of Origin series Queensland looked to be in a pretty bad place. No only had they lost back-to-back games at home, but the series loss hadn’t even been close.
The very best oddsmakers in the world such as powerplay Canada had Queensland struggling to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but a few performances in game three of the 2021 State Of Origin series should give the Maroons something to look forward to next year.
First of all Kayln Ponga showed why he is one of the stars of the game. His return for game three added so much to the Maroons attack. Just the threat of having him chiming into the backline was enough to see New South Wales having to make a few decisions in defence, and it showed why Valentine Holmes just wasn’t the right choice for the first two games of the series.
Moeaki Fotuaika just got better and better off the bench to the point where in game three he was making so much impact, I half excepted him to be a starter in game one next season.As more fancied young Queensland forward disappointed in this series, Fotuaika was a shining light. He is a great example of why Origin teams should always select with an eye on the future. He got a chance and now Queensland has a player they know is very good at this level.
Francis Molo was another off the bench that I was really impressed with. He too got better as the series went on and moved himself from a fringe State Of Origin players to a player you know you can rely on at this level.
Xavier Coats didn’t get too many chances in the last couple of games, it was just the way the games went, but any time he did see the ball come his way he looked very dangerous. His move to the Melbourne Storm next year will see him become a better player, and I could see him playing for the Maroon for the next decade. He has all the gifts needed to be one of the best wingers in the game. Queensland is very luck to have him.
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui has a series to forget but he was better in game three. He may just be one of those players that takes a little longer to find his legs at this level. If he finally feels comfortable at this level, he is going to be a cornerstone of the Queensland pack for years to come. Alongside his Gold Coast Titans team mate David Fifita (Who also has a pretty average series) I see a lot of improvement next season on beyond in a Maroons jersey for Big Tino!
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow got a taste of Origin in game three and managed to score a try on debut, which was great to see. He is one of those fringe Origin players at this point, but you can just see if he pulls it all together he could very quickly find himself in this Maroons team for many years to come.
Last but not least, Alex Brimson, who was picked out of position the entire series and overall probably feels pretty badly about how the 2021 series went for him personally when compared to the 2020 series when he was outstanding at fullback. I have a sneaky feeling we will look back one day and look at this series as one that REALLY made him as a player. I think he will go back to the Titans and work hard on his game to try and force Queensland selector to use him a little better. We know he can get it done at this level, and he is still only 22 years old, he has a long future in the Origin arena ahead of him.
So while the 2021 State Of Origin series was not one to remember for the Maroons, there are a few things they can look forward to. They know some of the younger players who can now get the job done at this level. They know who stands up when counted.
Sometimes you learn more in losses than you do in wins, and I think in 2021, Queensland learned quite a bit about their next generation of players.