Injuries help Ricky get it right this year
Ricky Stuart illustration by David Green Cartoonist
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NSW Blues coach Ricky Stuart tried his best to get it wrong yet again, but fate has stepped in to lend him a much needed helping hand.
Stuart has been sacked from his last two head coaching jobs at the Roosters and the Sharks, as well as being shown the door when National coach.
However, he continues to mesmerise the mainstream media and the decision makers at the ARLC into believing that he is the best coaching option.
The winner each year of game one in the Origin has a walk up start to take the series as they only have to win one of the remaining two games left. The bookmakers agree by generally firming the Origin I winner into prohibitive odds of around 1.22:1.
The Queensland Maroons have won the last six Origins by playing attacking rugby league and to have any chance of defeating them, the opposition must have a list of players who are capable of scoring 25 points or more.
The Maroons have averaged scoring 24 points in their 13 wins over the last six Origins. The average since 2001 is 26 points.
This is not rocket science but Ricky Stuart, in his wisdom, decided to play the slow and defensive Dean Young in the key position of hooker in last year’s initial game. He also could not find a position for three of the world best attacking forwards in Luke Lewis, Glenn Stewart and Anthony Watmough.
Stuart replaced Young after when he made only 15 metres from two runs at the 43 minute mark with Mick Ennis, who came on and cost the Blues heavily with his errors and missed tackles.
It is true that the Maroons are blessed to have Cam Smith as their hooker, but privately he must have been chuckling that he did not have to take on the two guys that have caused him the most trouble over the years in Kurt Gidley and Robbie Farah.
Gidley is sadly injured and out of contention this year but Farah is fit and firing at club level. Farah has immense talent not only with the ball and as a tactical left foot kicker, but he is one of the most intelligent players in the NRL and knows when to run and when to pass.
He is what has been lacking, but Stuart, for some reason only known to him, considered the likes of Young and Ennis a better origin fit.
We now know that had former Blues captain Danny Buderus had not been injured last week he would have been given the nine jersey again after a three year stint in England.
The fact that Buderus is 34 years old and slower than Dean Young did not seem to make any difference.
The fact that Buderus has shown at the Knights since his return to the NRL that the speed of the game now has gone past him and that he is seemingly incapable of busting a tackle or making a line break or even setting up a support is totally irrelevant to Ricky Stuart.
Danny Buderus has been a wonderful servant to the game and it would have been a shame had his wonderful reputation been tarnished in a high level, high stakes rep game that had passed him by.
We had to witness this last year when Anthony Minichiello embarrassed himself and when the grand final fullback Brett Stewart watched on from his lounge thinking what he may have been able to do to help his Blues.
Brent Stewart scores more tries per match than any other fullback by reading the game well and chiming in at the right time. He is one of those guys, along with the creative Robbie Farah, who know how to engineer 25 points or more for a team.
It seems that not even Ricky Stuart can get it wrong this year as it appears that fate is wearing a sky blue jersey.