Bowen to get the call for Origin decider
Queensland faces a selection headache ahead of the naming of their side on Tuesday with Billy Slater’s injury almost certain to rule him out of contention for Origin III.
If, as expected, Slater can’t train by this Friday and is forced to pull out then Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd and Ben Barba will all be considered for the Maroons. But the player they will have to pick is Matthew Bowen.
Bowen’s form this year has been nothing short of sensational and as a proven big game player he would offer the Queenslanders the spark that will be required to out score NSW in the biggest game of the season thus far. Coming back from two serious knee injuries, many league experts doubted that the likeable custodian could recapture the form that has seen him on many highlight reels throughout the years but Mango has proved the knockers wrong with a consistent 2012.
And if Bowen’s own form isn’t enough to persuade selectors, then the combination he has with Brent Tate, Matt Scott and especially Johnathan Thurston should be. NSW must be credited with shutting Thurston down in Origin II but if his old mate is there to assist with the attack in game III then that will make NSW’s job that much harder.
The combination between Thurston and Bowen offers so much as it keeps the opposition on high alert for the full 80 minutes. Thurston would be the first to admit that he was a little off in Origin II but if Queensland pick Bowen it may be the incentive he needs to find his form from game one and lead Queensland to a record seventh straight victory.
Moving Inglis to fullback must be tempting but Queensland would be reluctant to weaken their right side attack, especially considering NSW felt the need to drop Uate in favour of Morris. Inglis would be dangerous no matter where he is so Queensland must keep their right side as strong as possible.
Ben Barba is an undoubted talent who will get his opportunity in years to come, but a decider in front of what will be the biggest national audience in Origin’s history probably isn’t the place for his debut.
Queensland supporters will be praying that Billy Slater is available for the decider, but if he isn’t Matty Bowen won’t let anyone down.