NSW have little chance of winning Game 3

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

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    In the lead up to the State of Origin decider, the call to action is always the same – most media outlets demand content about Origin and most rugby league fans want to read it.

    We all know that Australians (particularly in New South Wales and Queensland) are obsessed with State of Origin so it makes sense to feature as much Origin content as possible.

    This obsession is backed up by more than just relentless Origin chat in the lead up to each game.

    In 2016, each Origin match featured in the top five ranked sporting programs with a combined audience of more than 7.2 million people. I expect the same sort of figures this year.

    It’s quite incredible that three games played between two states manage to capture the attention of the public for almost 10 weeks each season (and that people are so interested that club football takes a back seat during this period).

    But the truth is, I don’t want to write about State of Origin. I don’t even want to talk about Origin anymore. Why? Because the Blues’ performance in Game 2 broke me.

    Watching the Blues lose that game in the final three minutes courtesy of a Dane Gagai try hurt me so much that I didn’t read any Origin coverage for a week and a half afterward. I didn’t even tune in to the team announcements last week, because I have given up.

    I’ve convinced myself that the outcome is a foregone conclusion and as a result I’m not excited about this game at all. This is in stark contrast to three weeks ago, when I went into the game more excited than I had ever been for an Origin match.

    The truth is, I cannot see New South Wales winning – particularly after what I saw in Game 2.

    It’s so hard to pinpoint where exactly it went wrong for New South Wales this series.

    The win in Game 1 was emphatic. There were articles written about the end of the Queensland dynasty and about how Cameron Smith’s best football was behind him.

    Andrew Fifita caused chaos for the Maroons every single time he touched the ball. Jarryd Hayne returned to representative football as a hero. The names Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah were nothing but a distant memory.

    Even with significant changes made to the Maroons squad for Game 2, with the inclusion of players like Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Valentine Holmes, Jarrod Wallace and Coen Hess, Blues fans still went into the game confident.

    And for 40 minutes that confidence was rewarded.

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    The Maroons were scrambling just trying to weather the Blues attack. The Blues made 100 more metres than the Maroons in the first half. They had made three more line breaks, much fewer tackles and led the Maroons 16-6. The Maroons looked gassed.

    Then the second half. I don’t know what happened, other than that it all went horribly wrong. Wade Graham and Hayne made several costly errors. The minute Tyson Frizell left the field, Thurston stopped being targeted (despite having just one working shoulder). Josh McGuire. Will Chambers. Dane Gagai. Dylan Napa. These men were as determined to win this game for Queensland as the Blues were to lose it.

    And lose it they did. When Gagai scored that final try to equalise it had been a matter of not if, but when.

    Thurston, despite being ruled out for Game 3, ended his Origin career with a fairytale, slotting the sideline conversion with a bung shoulder and a stadium full of blue-clad fans baying for his blood.

    Boyd Cordner looked absolutely broken after the game. You could tell he had been crying before he fronted the media at the press conference.

    The truth is, New South Wales bottled it. They squandered their opportunity and the chance to claim the series in Game 2 disappeared before a collective state’s eyes.

    I’ve heard plenty of commentary over the last couple of weeks about the culture of losing and how difficult it is for a team that has been losing for a sustained period to mentally pick themselves up.

    I query, after the loss in Game 2, how New South Wales will be able to mentally prepare themselves for this game. What will it take for New South Wales to believe they can win?

    The odds are stacked against this team.

    The game will be played in front of a hostile crowd. The Blues are public enemy number one. This could potentially be Cooper Cronk’s last State of Origin game. Cordner could still potentially miss this match. The Blues have not scored a point since the 28th minute of Game 2 and have not won a series since 2014.

    The one positive that I take out of this year’s series is that New South Wales have almost named an identical team for each game this year. The team named is the future of our state and I have every confidence that a series win is not far away.

    In the case of this year’s State of Origin series – I believe that the battle has been won. Cameron Smith will lift that shield for the 11th time in 12 years and there is very little the Blues can do about it.

    If you’re a Blues fan looking for State of Origin victory – focus on the Women’s Interstate Challenge which takes place on July 23. The Blues have a very real chance of going back to back for the first time in this game’s history.

    As for me, I’ll be tossing up between the Women’s World Cup and the Blues on Wednesday night. I’m not sure my heart can take another result like Game 2.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (76)

    • July 11th 2017 @ 4:04am
      Craig said | July 11th 2017 @ 4:04am | ! Report

      Odds are stacked against the team? They’re favourites to win…

      Terrible article. You’re 50% chance of being right.

      • Columnist

        July 11th 2017 @ 11:23am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

        Craig to be honest, I don’t read too much into the betting odds…

        • July 11th 2017 @ 12:57pm
          JohnB said | July 11th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

          Thought you were about to say you didn’t read too much into your articles!

          (Also thought this might be a pretty transparent effort at a pundit’s/commentator’s curse.)

          • Columnist

            July 11th 2017 @ 3:51pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

            It might have had a hint of that too… JohnB. 😛 Do you think it worked?

            • July 11th 2017 @ 6:05pm
              JohnB said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

              Let’s hope not!

        • July 11th 2017 @ 3:24pm
          Craig said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

          You might not, but if you’re writing an article about a “backs to the wall” , “odds against them”, I think it’s probably wise to have a look at the odds. NSW are favourites for this game and were favourites for the series before it even started!

          So the odds are against the Queenslanders! And that’s how we like it, underdogs!

          • Roar Guru

            July 11th 2017 @ 5:39pm
            Mango Jack said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

            How the hell are they favourites? Home ground, momentum, at least 2 legends in their team, leaders who know how to close out a game, farewell show for Smith etc. Everything is in Qld favour.

            • July 11th 2017 @ 6:57pm
              Craig said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

              Look at the bookies odds.

              No Scott, Thurston, Boyd, Inglis.

              Completely new halves pairing. #6 on debut, Morgan playing centre when he’s never played there. A star from the Ipswich jets on the bench.

              How the hell wouldn’t they be favourites?

              • July 12th 2017 @ 9:35am
                Andy og said | July 12th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

                Odds has nothing to.do with anything but weight of money. Obviously a lot of people think NSW can win.In my experience the money usually gets it right but where there is sentiment there are bad decisions.

              • Columnist

                July 12th 2017 @ 10:05pm
                Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 12th 2017 @ 10:05pm | ! Report

                Looks like the money had it well and truly wrong…

      • July 14th 2017 @ 8:29pm
        Art Vanderlay said | July 14th 2017 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

        Please come back and apologise Cwaig.

    • July 11th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Oingo Boingo said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Go away Mary!
      Subconsciously this is what every single ,and I mean it , EVERY SINGLE NSW FAN is thinking .
      We’ll go into this game with high hopes , but in the back of our minds we’re waiting for the inevitable to happen in the last ten , if not earlier.
      I remember seeing a girl wearing a QLD jumper in Hay Street , Perth when QLD we’re going for their 3rd consecutive series win , and I gave her a bit of jibe about getting used to losing this year .
      She turned and laughed and replied with something along the lines of …It’s you who needs to get used to that coz you’ll never win it again .
      I wonder sometimes, if that memory stuck with her like it did me.

      • Columnist

        July 11th 2017 @ 11:24am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        It’s funny Oingo Boingo, I never usually give into these sorts of subconscious thoughts. Generally I am always of the belief (no matter how ridiculous) that my team can win.

        I’m not sure what changed in relation to the Blues this year – if they can prove me wrong, I would be absolutely delighted.

    • July 11th 2017 @ 8:10am
      Dan said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      I agree with your article. NSW lost that game in Sydney mentally. NSW was so superior in every aspect for, a game and 40 mins. QLD were hanging on, hoping, trying, fighting. Like Ali leaning against the ropes and copping the ferocious punches of Foreman, yet refusing to yield, smiling even as he was struck repeatedly, QLD stayed in the fight and won it on the bell. At some in that 2nd half, NSW exited the contest mentally and the door has been shut behind them this year at least.

      • Columnist

        July 11th 2017 @ 11:26am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        Queensland are winners – they have a winning mentality. Do NSW not have it or are we simply looking at one of the best QLD teams in history?

    • July 11th 2017 @ 8:20am
      E-Meter said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

      Aaaah Mary I think this might be more to do with being a long suffering Eels fan (like myself). You expect to lose when the opposition puts the pepper on. But I’m with you. Immediately after Origin 2 I thought QLD had wrapped up the series. Almost 3 weeks later, I’ve still got the same feeling.There’s no way QLD are going to lose 2 games in a row at Lang Park.

      • Columnist

        July 11th 2017 @ 11:25am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        I also think it might have something to do with the Knights loss on Sunday too.

        I know I’m not a Knights fan, but that loss also broke me…

    • Roar Guru

      July 11th 2017 @ 8:40am
      Will Sinclair said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      It’s interesting, because I share your sentiments, despite thinking that NSW have (by some distance) the better team going into Wednesday night.

      I really think that if the Blues stick to their game plan, and are treated decently by the referees (no penalties in the last 55 mins of Game 2!), then they should win and win pretty comfortably.

      But I don’t have a lot of faith in either of those things happening.

      *Sigh*

      • Roar Guru

        July 11th 2017 @ 8:59am
        Magnus M. Østergaard said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        (no penalties in the last 55 mins of Game 2!)

        LOL

      • July 11th 2017 @ 10:26am
        Brett said | July 11th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        I certainly hope the refs don’t cave in to Daley’s tantrums.

      • Columnist

        July 11th 2017 @ 11:28am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

        I wish we didn’t share this sentiment…

        Despite having the better team. Despite having (I think) more to play for, I just don’t know how NSW are going to build themselves up for this game.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm
        Art Vanderlay said | July 14th 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

        Poor Will, been sniffing too much tacky latex methinks

    • July 11th 2017 @ 9:06am
      David webb said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      And you people call yourself new south welshman thats a joke

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