Hang your heads in shame, New South Wales

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    “We can hold our heads high and be proud.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…

    As a rookie captain, Boyd Cordner tried his guts out all series. There is no doubting his effort or passion for the cause.

    More Origin 3 coverage:
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    » Liebke Ratings: State of Origin Game 3
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    »NSW Blues Player Ratings
    » Queensland Maroons Player Ratings
    » Game 3 match report: Maroons keep their dynasty alive
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    » WATCH: Highlights from Origin Game 3
    » How it happened: Re-live Game 3 with our live blog

    Cordner’s stats of 453 metres from 52 runs and 87 tackles were superb. He led by example, no question.

    However, if he thinks New South Wales should be proud of themselves at the conclusion of the 2017 State of Origin series I suggest that he needs a HIA test ASAP.

    How the hell did New South Wales lose that series? There are no excuses.

    I don’t want to hear any rubbish about Valentine Holmes’ foot supposedly being on the line or his dubious grounding.

    The Blues – rampant winners in Game 1 – had one hand on the shield in the 27th minute of Game 2 when Mitchell Pearce scored and James Maloney subsequently converted.

    Up 16-6, in front of their home crowd, playing a side that featured six players who had two games or less of Origin experience – including four debutants – somehow they found a way to lose the game.

    A team that had the momentum of a runaway train inexplicably stopped dead.

    On Wednesday night, New South Wales were insipid, uninspired, and – for the most part – directionless in losing the decider by 16 points. The only try they scored – and they only scored six points in the last 132 minutes of the series – came off a lottery bomb where Josh Dugan happened to get the better of Holmes.

    It was one of the only moments during the whole night where a New South Wales person beat a Queenslander to anything – apart from Blues supporters heading for the exits and all 17 Blues players to the change rooms after full-time. The Maroons players and fans were too busy celebrating.

    New South Wales have now lost 11 of the last 12 series. They’ve lost the last three straight. That’s the equal second-longest losing streak in Origin history, but because it pales next to eight straight losses we can sort of pass it off as not so bad.

    That’s simply pathetic.

    How we all manage to get so excited each year about the series – that for all intents and purposes has a result that is only slightly less predictable than the result of the Harlem Globetrotters playing the Washington Generals – is one of the most astounding things about the Origin phenomenon over the last decade.

    Boyd Cordner State of Origin NSW Blues NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    It’s as lopsided a contest as we’ve seen since St George won 11 premierships in a row.

    Sure, the Queensland side since 2006 have featured a core of legendary players – Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk – which played a big role in the dominance.

    However, the other big reason is that New South Wales have been just terrible.

    Some years it has been because the team just wasn’t talented enough.
    However, the class of 2017 was dripping with talent.

    Anyone who watched Game 1 knows just how well the side can play. Particularly the forward pack. The raw power and skill of the Blues forwards should have blown their Maroon opposition away. On paper they were miles better and for periods of the 2017 series that paper form materialised on the paddock.

    But then it disappeared. Last night only Cordner, David Klemmer and Jake Trbojevic did their jobs. But it wasn’t close to enough.

    Andrew Fifita, the hero of Game 1, made just 63 metres and missed two tackles, one of which was for the Jarrod Wallace try. Aaron Woods only made 80 metres. In comparison, Tim Glasby, whom the New South Wales press were ridiculing the selection of just weeks ago, made 117 metres and missed zero tackles.

    Who’s laughing now?

    So why did a side dripping with so much potential get pantsed again?
    Simple: leadership. Or more precisely, a lack of leadership.

    Gus Gould said in the post-match coverage, “We just haven’t cultivated a leadership group we can trust to get the job done”.

    Spot on Gus.

    This was particularly brought home this year. That Cordner at the age of 24 (now 25) – who’d only captained his club for half a season and had only six Origin games under his belt – could be considered the best option to captain the Blues was a appalling revelation about the character of the players within the Blues squad.

    Jarryd Hayne, Aaron Woods, Josh Dugan, Mitchell Pearce, Andrew Fifita, Brett Morris and James Maloney all had more Origin experience and more time in the game than Cordner. Yet none were either interested or capable of doing the job.

    There’s your problem.

    When the going got tough for Queensland in Game 2 their players didn’t have to wonder what to do or where to go. Thurston, Smith, Cronk and Slater were constantly directing and encouraging them. They all took leadership roles eagerly and clearly understand the value of strong, decisive and cohesive leadership.

    I’m not sure I’d trust too many of the New South Wales players to look after my cat Eduardo Luis, let alone to captain the side.

    When the going got tough for New South Wales everyone looked around to see who was going to take control. But no one did. Sure, Cordner tried his guts out leading by example. However, that wasn’t enough to get his side back on message.

    Mitchell Pearce of the NSW Blues. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    Further, the New South Wales halves failed. Again. They were unable to build any pressure on their opponents and their turnstile defence (Maloney missed nine tackles, Pearce missed eight) was a clear liability that Queensland exploited.

    While Cronk was performing such feats as the amazing pin-point kick to Holmes to score and Munster was breaking the line and providing two try assists, the most noteworthy thing I saw either New South Wales half do was when Maloney ripped Matt Gillett’s shoe off in the 59th minute and threw it into the crowd.

    Maloney has surely had his go now and I think it’s safe to assume that the knives will be out for Pearce. But who have the Blues got to replace them?

    Their best options to take over in the halves are probably 19-year-old Nathan Cleary and his Panthers captain Matt Moylan. However, Gould clearly stated that he didn’t want his young halves going into the New South Wales environment in its current state.

    That is a damning statement.

    Conversely, Queensland’s biggest issue is who out of Cam Munster, Anthony Milford, Michael Morgan, Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans and Ash Taylor will take the halves spots in the future.

    Contrary to my incredibly premature prediction following Game 1, the Queensland dominance could go on and on. Not just because they’re so good, but because New South Wales are so mediocre.

    Laurie Daley has now had five years in the job and I suspect he may have had enough. One of the Blues’ best ever players and captains, surely this job is taking its toll on him.

    However, who in their right mind would want the job? How do you fix these issues? Who do you pick? Where is your effective leadership coming from?

    Today the only thing that would give New South Wales fans any solace is that Cam Smith is starting to go bald. It’s not much to cling to, but it’s all I’ve got. However, at $30,000 a game Smith has now earned $1,260,000 from his Origin appearances.

    While I admire Cordner for both his great efforts for New South Wales this year and for trying to draw positives during his post-match speech, there is no way that the New South Wales side should be proud of their efforts in this series.

    They totally blew it and they’ve only got themselves to blame.

    If they try to pass that rubbish capitulation off as a worthy attempt they are kidding themselves. It’s one of the worst series defeats I can remember.

    They should hang their heads in shame.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.