NSW Blues team for 2012 Origin Game 3; expert reaction
New South Wales Blues rugby league coach, Ricky Stuart, announces his side for State of Origin Game 2 2012 (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
After an impressive win in Sydney, the New South Wales Blues head to Brisbane for the deciding Game 3 of the 2012 State of Origin series with a few surprises from the NSW Rugby League selectors.
A 19 man squad was announced, as the Blues bid to end the Queensland Maroons recent dominance.
Stewart struggled for impact in attack in Game 1 but bounced back strongly in Game 2 to score two tries. The Blues will once again look to the brilliant support play of their fullback in order to make Queensland pay on the scoreboard.
Brett Morris (replaces Akuila Uate)
Akuila Uate broke the first rule of wing play in the first game when he came off his sideline. In the second game, he broke the second rule of wing play when he let the ball bounce. The Blues’ selectors lost patience with his errors, and probably felt they couldn’t risk him again in Game 3. That sees the recall of Brett Morris, who lines up alongside twin brother Josh, in a partnership should improve the Blues right-side defence.
Morris was handed the difficult task of matching up against Greg Inglis, and has done a very good job thus far. He may even earn some respite in Game 3 if Inglis is moved to fullback to cover the loss of Billy Slater. However, Ben Barba’s man-of-the-match performance today may earn him the Maroon number 1 jersey, ensuring Morris will once again have his hands full covering Inglis.
It wasn’t quite Maradona’s Hand of God, but Jennings quick thinking was just as important to Blues fans when he prevented a certain Brent Tate try in Sydney. He has also looked dangerous in attack, and will be keen to go one step further in Brisbane, and cross the line for a try or two.
Hayne has been sensational for the Blues, and always is. Blues fans will claim his brilliant reflexes resulted in Josh Morris’s try, while Queenslanders will say it was pure luck. Whatever the truth, no one can argue that Hayne has the ability to pull off game-winning magic.
Carney was better prepared for Origin II and it showed in his performance. While he still didn’t dominate, his piece of brilliance in setting up Brett Stewart showed what he is capable of. One continued area of concern is his goal-kicking, which may prove crucial if the game is tight.
No one questions Pearce’s commitment in defence, but it’s his execution in attack that still leaves people wondering if Pearce is the right man for the job. Far too often Pearce finds Maroon defenders on the full with his kicks, and lacks variety and options on the fifth tackle. He either needs to learn some new tricks fast, or defer kicking responsibilities to Farah or Carney.
Captain Courageous has provided everything expected of him – which is a lot – and will be asked to deliver more of the same in the decider. He does, however, need to address his nasty habit of complaining to the referees ad nauseam.
Bird has already won three man-of-the-match awards at Origin level, which sees him tied for third most all-time. It’s a fantastic achievement for a man who should legally change his name to ‘Made for Origin’. No player exemplifies the passion and dedication New South Welshmen have for the sky blue jersey more than Bird.
In a game that contained brutal defence and plenty of big hits, no one provided more than Luke Lewis did in Sydney. He constantly put his body on the line and personally inflicted bruise upon bruise on the Maroons. Lewis has made a career out of thriving on doing the dirty work.
He has been absolutely brilliant in his Origin debut series, and has looked right at home at this level of football. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic, and he loves getting involved. A brilliant selection by the Blues hierarchy, and one that is paying immediate dividends.
Not only did Farah complete a record 63 tackles in Origin I, but he did so without missing a single tackle. That is simply amazing. Throw in the fact that his mother was ill, and has since tragically passed away, and no one can ever question Farah’s toughness ever again. Too soft for Origin? That tag has been eradicated forever.
Grant made his presence felt early when he sent his hero Petero Civoniceva tumbling to the ground off the very first hit-up of the game. Whilst the rest of his debut game wasn’t quite as spectacular, Grant certainly looked like an Origin footballer.
After all the talk about Watmough’s exclusion from Game 1 and then his inclusion in Game 2, Choc will probably be looking forward to a low key media profile heading into Game 2. His compact body shape, low centre of gravity, and strong leg power provide a unique proposition off the bench for the Blues. Now, if he would just stop crabbing across the field…
Creagh improved his output in Game 2, but the questions remain about his effectiveness and impact. As has been mentioned numerous times, he’s much better suited to a starting role, and due to Glenn Stewart’s injury, the Blues may finally use him in that role.
Tamou and Grant, despite their performances so far, are rookies that haven’t experienced the cauldron that is Suncorp Stadium. As such they may be slightly overawed, or expend a lot of nervous energy early on in the match. Therefore, Merrin may be asked to play a greater role in Brisbane, and the Blues will be hoping he finally has a big impact in an Origin game.
Williams was brought on late in Origin I, and made his presence felt by breaking an impressive 13 tackles in just 23 minutes of playing time. Considering most of those came from simply pushing defenders away from a standing start, the Maroons must shudder at what he could do if he ran onto the ball. His strength is such an asset off the bench that the Blues are willing to once again gamble on his match fitness. Playing the full 80 minutes today for Manly certainly helped his cause.
The ball playing backrower injured himself against Melbourne last round, and it was assumed he would be ruled out of the decider. However, Ricky Stuart has shown loyalty and patience in giving Stewart every chance of overcoming his injury, naming him in an extended squad, but with plenty of cover should he be ruled out.
The defensive specialist was somewhat of a surprise addition to the squad for Game 3, but with Glenn Stewart at long odds to overcome his injury, Scott has been drafted into the Blues camp as cover. If he is called upon, he’ll add starch to a Blues defence that has already been very strong.
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.
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