NSW Blues team for Origin II 2012; expert reaction
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New South Wales Blues rugby league coach, Ricky Stuart, announces his side for State of Origin Game 2 2012 (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
The New South Wales Blues have made two changes for Origin II, with Anthony Watmough returning to the side, and Tim Grant earning selection.
Jamie Buhrer has been left out of the 17, but was named as the 18th man, and Tony Williams was ruled out due to the injury he sustained in Origin I.
The team, and reaction to it, follows:
Whilst he struggled to have his anticipated impact in attack in Origin I, his defence was solid, and he positioned himself well at the back. The Blues would love to see him get more opportunities to test the Queensland defence, and I think his support play will be much improved for Origin II.
Much was made of the mistakes Uate made in coming off his defensive line too early. But upon reviewing the game, on a couple of occasions he actually had little choice. He was simply attempting to cover bad reads inside him, particularly from Todd Carney. He looked dangerous in attack, and Stuart will have his right hand side better prepared in Sydney, so expect Uate to bounce back.
I thought Morris had a very solid game in extremely difficult circumstances. Despite the Blues well documented issues done their defensive right hand side, Morris held his own. He would love to see more ball in game II to show off his real talents: size and speed.
Whilst it’s hard to overlook his costly brain snap that earned him 10 minutes in the sin bin, Jennings actually had a terrific game in Melbourne. He defended well, and made plenty of threatening runs in attack. I’m sure he’ll be keen to repay his teammates and coach.
There are three certainties in life. Taxes, death, and Hayne performing at Origin level. Consistently the Blues best over the years, Hayne was once again in game I. Has earned automatic selection for the rest of his career. Ok, that’s hyperbole, but you get the point.
Carney was completely and utterly overawed in his Origin debut. Looked nervous before the match, and played nervous during the match. Nothing highlighted this more than his poor kicking – both in-play, at goal, and kicking for the sideline off a penalty. He did settle down late in the game, and will be better for the experience. Or so the Blues hope.
Surprisingly received some criticism from certain quarters after the opening match of the series. I thought he played pretty well, and I was especially impressed by his decision to take control of the team once it became apparent that Carney was struggling. However, as the executor of the Blues attacking strategies, I would suggest not kicking down Tate’s throat.
Despite his running battle with the referees, Gallen put in another typically brilliant performance, tackling and running hard all game long. Would be keen to concentrate on simply doing that again, rather than arguing with officials.
Queensland did a brilliant job of pushing up on him when he received the ball, taking away his ball playing ability, something the Blues were relying on. He still got thought a mountain of work, but will be looking to have a greater impact in attack at Homebush.
Forced the odd pass, and depending on which side of the border you’re from, he directly or indirectly started the melee. But he was otherwise sensational. Hit hard in defence, and was very dangerous in attack, particularly when stepping off his left foot. The Blues will simply ask for more of the same from the Titan.
Wasn’t exactly overcome by the occasion, was he? Despite playing in his debut Origin, Tamou was one of the best players on the park. Strong, athletic, and with a thirst to get involved, Tamou will be wearing the sky blue jersey for many years to come.
Despite all the question marks and doubts, Farah was absolutely brilliant in Melbourne. He supplied his usual potency and options in attack, but also worked hard in defence. He had his momentum halted when he was taken off, and should play the full 80 minutes in game II.
I thought Grant might be a victim of unfortunate timing, with the Panthers bye on the weekend meaning he would be unable to make a last minute bid for selection. However, the Blues need for some added size sees the young prop get the call-up. He’s been in very good form for Penrith, and provided he can control his nerves, he’ll add some toughness to the NSW pack.
Got through a tonne of work, and often found himself playing a little more in the middle of the park than he’s used to, primarily due to the Blues lack of props. However, it seemed to slightly diminish his effectiveness, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him playing a little wider in Sydney.
The Manly backrower should have been in the team for the first encounter, but belatedly gets his chances due to the injury to teammate Tony Williams. Whilst he never suffers for motivation in Origin, he’ll probably play with a slight chip on his shoulder. That’s bad news for the Maroons.
Wherever he’s keeping the photos of the NSW selectors in compromising situations, it’s clearly a very secure and safe spot. Creagh has been completely ineffective at Origin for some time now, yet keeps getting picked. I’m actually being unfairly harsh on a good player. In all fairness to Creagh, he can be very effective running out wide. Yet Ricky Stuart keeps using him as a prop.
Still yet to establish himself in the Origin arena. It’s not that he played bad in game I, it’s just that he had such little impact. He needs to either have his role more clearly defined, or needs to study some video and decipher how he can best contribute to the Blues cause, because he’s been little more than a passenger in two games.
Those missing out:
It’s still a head scratcher trying to figure out why Buhrer was selected for Origin I, and why he even made it onto the field. He clearly didn’t have a role, and whilst not his fault, it’s therefore a sensible decision to drop him from the 17. He was named as the 18th man, somewhat surpsingly.
Woods has done everything but demanded to be picked, despite his relatively young age. The Tigers resurgence is due to many factors, but none more so that the form of their young prop, who has tightened up his defence, whilst showing plenty of talent in attack. Both qualities could have been used by the Blues, and Woods would have also provided NSW with some much needed size on their bench.
I rate Hinchcliffe very highly, but a utility player was proven to simply not be required in game I. Changing who that utility player is, therefore makes no difference. Farrah and the halves play 80 minutes, so there is zero need for a utility player on the NSW bench. The Blues selectors seem to have finally learnt this from game I.
The Blues were found to be lacking a bit of bulk in game I, and Big Keefy from the Tigers certainly provides that. He would have also helped the Blues match Queensland’s bench behemoths. However, Galloway is not the most mobile big man, and selectors may have been wary of the Maroons targeting him when the game opens up.
If the Blues want size, then look no further than Big Tom. Surprisingly athletic despite his enormous frame, Learoyd-Lahrs and Tamou could form a dangerous combination for the Blues. I would have selected him in Creagh’s position.
The Blues need to do something different, and need to look more dangerous in attack. Mateo is the type of x-factor player that can win you a match. He also would have also provided five-eighth cover should Carney struggle again.
MORE ORIGIN COVERAGE: State of Origin 2012
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.