Picking a NSW Origin team for 2013
Queensland winning seven series in a row has obviously meant that NSW may need to make a couple of changes if they are to stop Queensland’s dominance in 2013.
Looking back at the deciding game, I still couldn’t believe NSW coach Ricky Stuart selected four backrowers on the bench in Ben Creagh, Tony Williams, Anthony Watmough and Luke Lewis.
What was more bizarre was that Stuart was trying to manufacture Creagh into a prop forward.
Throughout this Origin series, I struggled to come to comprehend as to why Creagh was picked for NSW in the first place. Creagh’s form for the St. George-Illawarra Dragons has been down, plus he is a backrower who likes to play on the edge, not a hard hitting front rower who plays tight in the middle.
If Stuart is still the coach of NSW next year, I hope he picks at least one prop forward on the bench in each of the Origin games. Perhaps Stuart should give a call to Aiden Tolman, Aaron Woods, Keith Galloway, Tim Mannah, Trent Merrin or Michael Weyman. I’m sure one or two of those front rowers would be more than able back up for the starting front row of James Tamou and Tim Grant.
The two games that NSW lost in this series, the common denominator was on both occasions, NSW had two specialist front rowers. In the first game, Gallen started at prop with Trent Merrin on the bench. The backrowers meanwhile, is where NSW are strongest with Bird, Gallen and Glenn Stewart in the starting pack, with Lewis and Watmough coming off the bench
Tony Williams, used for his impact off the bench, could face competition next year with Tariq Sims coming back from injury. Many NSW fans would like to see both of them in the side. However, it could be a case where both of those players are fighting for the same spot. At this stage I go with T-Rex.
Although if any halves don’t come through for NSW, there is the option of putting either Bird or Glenn Stewart at five-eighth and putting T-Rex in the starting pack. You could then bring in Sims on the bench.
Robbie Farah should remain as hooker, although NSW might start to struggle for hooking options. Michael Ennis and Ryan Hinchhcliffe are well into their late twenties and sooner or later NSW will have to look into any young hookers coming through.
It may not be an issue for a year or two, but hopefully in the next couple of years, we may start seeing some young NSW hookers making the grade. Maybe a Mitch Rein or Cameron King. Interestingly, both are from the Dragons.
The backline should be similar, although there is a slight chance Brett Stewart could leave Manly and the NRL, which may open the door for Canberra’s Josh Dugan, or to shift Hayne to fullback. The Morris boys, Brett and Josh should still be there, as both were outstanding in the final Origin game.
Josh had a brilliant Origin series. His containment of Inglis in Origins I and II was a highlight. Akuila Uate can come back in the side, but he needs to work on a couple of things.
If a bomb comes near his direction, Uate should be more assertive by telling his fullback that it is his ball, and therefore not letting the ball bounce. While in defence, he needs to trust his centre partner more. He was exposed in Origin I, which allowed Darius Boyd to score two tries.
Moving through the backline, Michael Jennings is a very gifted centre. Every time he touches the ball he does look dangerous. However only attitude, not ability could stand in his way of returning to the NSW side. Let’s hope Jennings doesn’t spend much time playing for the Windsor Wolves.
Chris Lawrence could come into contention, while the forgotten man Jamal Idris needs a big twelve months to force his way into the side.
Finally, Jarryd Hayne is Jarryd Hayne. He may not be in the best of form at Parramtta, but when he pulls on the NSW jumper he always performs. He is an X-factor.
There could be a consideration for Hayne to play five-eighth if any halves from NSW don’t come up to speed in the next ten to twelve months. The halves partnership of Todd Carney and Mitchell in Origin III left a lot to be desired.
Their kicking game was awful throughout the series. In the last game, they kept finding Greg Inglis on the full on most occasions, and with it Inglis would always have Queensland in great field position. The Maroons would start their sets at 30 to 40 metres from the Queensland tryline on a regular basis.
Of the two halves, Pearce has copped the most flak. The reason is that Pearce has been there for nine matches. By now, you would think that he would come into his own. Unfortunately his development at halfback has gone backwards. He lacks creativity, and doesn’t threaten the line at all. He can also be found wanting in defence.
His partner, Carney isn’t too flash in defence either, but in some ways Carney escaped a lot of criticism simply because it was his debut series. Carney at club level does possess the creativity to unlock defences, while his kicking game for Cronulla has been terrific this year. Carney is slowly getting back to the sort of form that won him the Dally M a couple of years ago.
What Carney needs to do now is to translate that into the Origin arena next year. If he does that, NSW will be hard to beat. He, along with Hayne are the two players in the backline where on their day could break the game open. Something which Pearce at this stage is unable to do.
Pearce will have competition to keep his spot from the likes of James Maloney, Jarrod Mullen and Peter Wallace. Some have suggested that the two Reynolds boys, Josh and Adam (not related) could be up for consideration, but in my opinion they are probably another year or two away.
I probably go for Maloney at this point in time. His form leading into the Warriors charge to the grand final last year was superb. If Maloney gets back to that sort of form, he will come under strong consideration for NSW.
Both Maloney and Carney play five-eighth at NRL level. Carney has played a bit of halfback, so I would switch Carney to halfback. Then again, when he played halfback for Cronulla earlier in the year, he wasn’t effective. It does go to show that NSW don’t have many options at halfback.
If NSW are after a utility player, Josh Reynolds could fill the void (if he’s ready). In first grade he has played at hooker and five-eighth. Speaking of utility players, some reckon that Kurt Gidley was missed in this past series for NSW. However I think NSW should by pass Gidley and look for more younger options. Gidley has been injury prone the last couple of years.
My side for 2013
13. P.Gallen (c)
Other players that will go close, Akuila Uate, Chris Lawrence, Josh Dugan, Tariq Sims, Trent Merrin, Josh Reynolds, Jarrod Mullen and Wade Graham. As always form and injury will dictate. It may well be a different side.
Since the decider, stories have been doing the rounds that Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen shared a drink after the game.
Gallen: “So Cam, is that a lemonade your drinking?”
Smith: ”Nah mate, it’s 7up.”
The jokes on NSW must end in 2013