Blues doomed by short sighted selections
Ricky Stuart illustration by David Green Cartoonist
The simple fact that Ricky Stuart is considering Danny Buderus as part of his Origin side spells disaster for the Blues chances.
And not just this year.
Stuart shared breakfast with the 34 year old in Newcastle yesterday, to sound him out about his fitness and desire to play on May 23.
Why? Buderus is 34 years old. He isn’t the player he once was, but he is still very effective, and a great leader. He provides plenty of Origin know-how and a cool head. These are the arguments from those who would see him take the Origin field for the second time.
But ‘Bedsy’ hasn’t donned the blue jersey since 2008. He has been back in the NRL for eight weeks, and he has tendonitis in his ankle. This affected him enough to see him leave the field in the Knights win over the hapless Panthers on Monday.
Stellar record or not, he is old, he is injured, and he won’t be around for much longer.
The ankle might be enough to sidestep this selection issue. If he can’t return to the Origin arena, then the selectors will look elsewhere. However, the fact remains: Even if Buderus is match fit, even if he was the form hooker in contention, he should still be overlooked.
Queensland have created a dynasty. By consistently picking a crop of young players, they have created a powerhouse team. Injuries or retirements are easily covered, as star players have ready made understudies who have played their own rep footy and learnt the team culture over the years.
If you need an example, look no further than Cooper Cronk’s elevation to a starting spot in the absence of spiritual leader Darren Lockyer. Admittedly, Cronk’s selection moves Johnathan Thurston to five-eighth, but JT has the versatility to make the transition with ease.
Why? Because he has been around the same team long enough to know how they work.
For Queensland, picking players based on Origin experience isn’t an issue. They all have it, and those that don’t start, or play, are around the team enough to slot in.
Every year the Blues selections are up in the air until the last minute. Club game injures leave the brains trust scratching their heads and making repeated positional changes.
Players north of the border relax in the knowledge they will be picked, and they will slot in to training and match preparation with ease. With such a short time together, familiarity is key. The team that clicks the best generally wins game one and history shows it’s very tough to come back from there.
Buderus’ possible selection is a classic case. The idea that a 34 year old with injury issues could be selected over others who are injury free, in form and have the potential to play for the next five years seems ridiculous. You want Bedsy’s experience? Make him a trainer.
New South Wales must develop consistency, particularly in the key 1-6-7-9 positions. Last year they chose Michael Ennis, before that Robbie Farah. Ryan Hinchcliffe is another name being chucked around.
Whoever you choose, stick with him, and barring injury or a huge dip in form select him consistently. Then there won’t be 17 Blues players out there, rushed into a squad and with an eye on retaining their place.
Instead there will be a settled New South Wales unit with the single goal of re-gaining their Origin dominance.
Caricature by David Green. Follow his celebrity caricatures via this link.