Former league powerbroker Ken Arthurson said this week that State of Origin had to be introduced in 1980 because interstate football “was basically Australia versus Queensland”.
Thirty years later, Origin has reached its logical conclusion: it’s now Australia versus NSW. So what do we do now?
Pay no attention to the six-point margin in the opening match of the 2010 series last night at ANZ Stadium. NSW has fallen so far behind Queensland at rugby league that you can almost compare the gulf to the one between Australia and England — who have not won a series against the green and golds in 38 years.
In Billy Slater, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith (who didn’t play Origin I), they have the spine of the national side.
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The following days will be full of theories and suggestions and demands about the changes the Blues should make to win the return match on June 16 at Suncorp Stadium.
Ignore them all.
Just about the only thing that will get NSW a win in Brisbane is if Stilnox takes over from XXXX as the sponsor of the Maroons and they all skol a jug of it before kick-off.
The current Queensland side is one of the greatest representative teams ever seen and NSW must get used to its role as the Washington Generals — the team that travelled around with the Harlem Globetrotters for the sole purpose of making them look good on the way to losing to them night after night.
Six times, by accident, the Generals actually won. Maybe, by accident, the Blues will win in Brisbane. But I doubt it.
But that is not to say the Blues should just forfeit the remaining two Origin games. So I am now going to write some of that pointless cockroach navel-gazing I just advised you not to read.
Here’s your chance to go to Amazon or twitter or redtube.
Half-back Brett Kimmorley had too much responsibility on Wednesday night. If Jamie Lyon does not think he is a five-eighth, who are we to argue?
Greg Bird or Trent Barrett seem to be the answer to me.
And I don’t think this is a good enough side to afford the luxury of Jarryd Hayne on the wing. Put him at full-back and move Kurt Gidley to the bench. I don’t care if you keep him as captain or not.
Other changes, I am not particularly concerned about. Coach Craig Bellamy is probably right in saying it’s a good idea to spare the axe.
Paul Gallen probably deserves a recall, however, and if Jamie Lyon moves back to the centres then we still have to fit Jamal Idris in somewhere.
Sort it out, selectors.
By the way, it was great to see the NRL rules restricting trainers’ time on the field completely flouted once more in Origin. Remember in under-sevens, when they let the coach stay on the field with you for the first six weeks?
That’s what Andrew Johns did in the final two minutes, standing behind the Blues for an entire set and telling them exactly what to do.
Allan Langer watched from the sidelines, saw the writing was on the wall, and went on for an entire set when the Maroons got the ball in the final 60 seconds. Just to prove a point.
Phil Gould is right. Let them both play in game two. It will get people watching because uncertainty over the result is scarcely an incentive to do so.
*This was first published on Back Page Lead, a sports opinion website that provides sports content to Crikey.