Home > Rugby League > Singing the Blues – All hype and no substance

Singing the Blues – All hype and no substance

By Paul Johnson

Here’s the thing about State of Origin, the media and the Channel Nine advertising machine will have you believe it is the mother of all gladiatorial contests, mate versus mate, state versus state and all that jazz.

What they also want you to believe is, that it is a contest, well here’s the newsflash… it isn’t.

Ever noticed in recent years how every NSW based media organisation gets their journalists to put on their sky blue jersey and start dreaming up scenarios about why the Blues will finally get their mojo back and win this year’s series? Ever noticed how they don’t talk Queensland up?

It’s because they don’t have to.

At every league journalists’ core they know the truth, and that truth is no matter any amount of state-driven patriotism, Queensland are simply better and will continue on their dynasty, even without the great Darren Lockyer.

This group of players might just be the best, most dominant team ever assembled and over the last six years they have run over the top of the NSW Blues for that very reason.

They all know each other intimately at a professional level and every player knows what their role is within the team and performs it at the highest level.

Queensland have stuck to their guns, where once again NSW have gone for different options within their team and surprisingly coach Ricky Stuart has opted to go on the attack, it’s a very un-Stuart like move and one that might well smack of desperation.

Just look at the backline: Brett Stewart, Jarryd Hayne, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Akuila Uate, Todd Carney, Mitchell Pearce, all are attacking dynamos, it appears the emphasis is to blow Queensland off the park and defence be damned, even the inclusion of Tony Williams on the bench suggest that, and that is especially the case with Robbie Farah at hooker.

On the outer for years, injuries to Michael Ennis and Danny Buderus appear to have forced Stuart’s hand when it’s come to Farah, but when Origin players are spoken about they are usually tough and gritty, Farah is not.

I once had a former editor of mine and mad Wests Tigers fan describe that team as the “ultimate bunch of downhill skiers”.

The inference being that they couldn’t get the job done when things got tough and if that is the case then Farah is the biggest downhill skier of them all and will be a liability unless NSW can get maximum go forward over a notoriously tough and rugged Maroons pack.

Making ground is hard enough most games, but when the defence of Petero Civoniceva, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday and Matt Scott is up in your face that becomes harder and when your captain and best Origin player (Paul Gallen) is forced to play out of position in the middle after battling quadriceps injuries, the task becomes almost impossible and most of the pressure falls on a debutant in James Tamou.

The media will say NSW can challenge and on paper they could, if they were all in form but here are the realities.

Brett and Glenn Stewart are both still busy demanding an apology that will not be forthcoming form NRL CEO David Gallop.

Michael Jennings, Aku Uate, Jarryd Hayne, Mitchell Pearce, Greg Bird and Ben Creagh are out of form.

Tony Williams hasn’t played for weeks, Gallen is battling injury and Farah is good in a winning team, but not one for the hard slog and the selection of Jamie Buhrer was a huge shock to say the least.

The hardest thing Queensland have had to deal with all week is a dose of the flu and with the team they have, that will remain their toughest assignment.

Stories that hype NSW actually have a chance are just that… stories and hype.


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