No flashing lights at the end of the tunnel for NSW
Many problem gamblers would be familiar with the thought that eventually your boldness is going to pay off based purely on odds.
At this point in time, the sweepstakes mentality is fast becoming the only thing that NSW fans can cling to at Origin time.
The callous and calculating gaming terminal is Queensland and they hold the power and the only bucket of dollar coins.
They flick the switch for the flashing lights and tinny organ music and determine the result at their behest.
Don’t get me wrong, NSW at their best and bravest can compete and push the machine to the brink of submission. They can collect a gratuitous feature or a small payout occasionally when the Maroons are 3% below their best.
However, the house always wins.
The problem for NSW is that this lay of the land between the two states doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, and this was no more evident that in a couple of defining performances in Wednesday night’s game.
Firstly, it was in the battle of the packs.
Another Maroon cornerstone, Petero Civoniceva, bid adieu last night. Is his exit a good sign for the Blues? Or are they clutching at straws?
Like a fluid change of runners in a relay, Nate Myles patted Civoniceva on the backside as he exited, took the baton and got to work.
At 27 years of age, Myles has proven this series that he is in the distinct elite. He sits snugly in the Maroon trenches alongside fellow perennial winners Matt Scott (26) and David Shillington (29) who will all be around for a few more years yet.
Civoniceva’s footprint has already been seamlessly filled, just like Shane Webcke and Steve Price before him.
Perceived plausible weak spot: gone. Possible power shift for NSW: evaporated.
Secondly, it was the split second game-definer.
Cooper Cronk’s clutch field goal was so Lockyer-esque that you could’ve sworn it was the statue of the retired great that had came to life and dinked it over with his bronze slipper.
One of the few cork-popping thoughts for NSW fans last year was the notion that those all-too-familiar moments could be gone with Lockyer’s departure. The closest he would get to a game would be sucking a Strepsil on the sideline.
However, the nightmare came back to life, albeit without the frog in the throat.
Cronk is in his pomp age of 28. He is a bona fide superstar who arguably plays second fiddle to another bloke taking up huge space on the Sky Blue whiteboard in Johnathon Thurston (29).
They’re not going anywhere for a while.
Again, another glint in the tunnel extinguished for rugby league’s second best state.
The breathing space for NSW in the Origin stratosphere now seems so skinny that we need an oxygen tank the size of an elephant’s bowel to even blow a forlorn sigh.
And we haven’t even mentioned that Billy Slater (29) was hinge-healing on the sidelines.
As I wrote earlier this week, NSW have certainly grown some chest hair this series.
There’s no doubting that Stuart’s charges get an A+ for courage, belief and bravery. There’s a ‘needs work but improving’ in the footy smarts column which will come with experience. While only of inching proportions, progress has definitely been made.
However, last night once again proves that NSW are seven years into a seemingly never-ending apprenticeship at the hands of a dictating superior that may only grant a graduation when he gets old, disinterested or runs out of supplies.
For the current crop of Maroon champions, age is currently not a factor.
And even when any of them reaches his use-by date, he will simply be pushed out to pasture in his wheelchair by fresh and hungry juniors.
Have you tried to metaphorically visualise the Queensland system and how deep the channels run that feed into it?
I drill to the earth’s core and only reach as far as Queensland Cup juniors, and from there, the army of Blue-hating soldiers grows deeper and deeper.
As for indolence, I don’t remember the last time that Origin slipped anywhere from the top of the priority list for Queensland, so you can forget about that also.
They hold our money and our hope. They hold the power.
There could be a while for Blues supporters to wait just yet.
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