WIZ: Mal and Ricky playing those Mind Games together
State of Origin 2012 Game 3: Live blog
With Origin just around the corner again, it’s been particularly intriguing watching the mind games amongst the coaches play out around the injured players that have been selected.
Mal and Ricky are in similar positions going into Game 3. Both picked players in their squads with known injuries.
Ricky has taken perhaps the biggest gamble, selecting Tony Williams with only limited game time under his belt over the past few months.
If he starts for the Blues, will he be able to get way with what he did against Roosters? State of Origin is a lot faster and the players are generally smarter.
If I was Mal, I’d have the Maroons players run at him as much as possible in the opening quarter of the match and try and make him do 15 tackles or more. Then sneak down the blind side when the big fella start tiring at marker.
Now that Billy Slater has been ruled out, it’s been revealed that Inglis will play fullback. He’ll do a great job there, but I would’ve picked Bowen in that position.
The old coaching adage goes that you don’t weaken two positions to strengthen one, and I feel with Inglis moving away from the left edge, which he dominated in the opening two matches, the Maroons have done just that.
With GI at the back, the Blues’ kicking game will have to be different. They will need to kick behind him, so they don’t give him the chance to wind up and hit the defenders with speed.
But regardless of who plays fullback, the Blues will have their work cut out for them keeping the Maroons backline under control, especially with Darius Boyd returning to form. He probably had his best game on Monday night and seems to have grown another leg.
On the coaching front, there’s been some conjecture around about Ricky Stuart and whether he should offered a pay rise to keep him off the radar of the NRL clubs.
When we look at the pay structure and what the players and coaches are getting now, a pay rise for everyone involved is not a bad idea.
But Ricky, in particular, deserves whatever they can offer him. He has done a great job in promoting the Blues, and with promoting the State of Origin series in general.
What value do you put on that?
The figure of $500,000 has been mooted for the Blues coaching role. If that were the case, I’d have three tiers of Origin football – the 20s, 16s, and the big boys – and have Ricky oversee all those players, developing the future stars of the game while plotting for future Blues domination.
But whatever happens off the field, the game itself next week will be an epic encounter between two great sides with the weight of two states right behind them.
I really think the Blues can do it, but they’ll need to be right on their game in every department.
Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist, and continues in 2013.