NSW still looking for the ‘trust factor’

ScottWoodward.me Roar Guru

By ScottWoodward.me, ScottWoodward.me is a Roar Guru

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    The Maroons became great because they have had a great spine.

    Commentary that Queenslanders have more belief and are better coached is just lost money and broken hearts talking over a clear-thinking narrative.

    To say Queenslanders Mal Meninga and Kevin Walters are superior coaches to Blues Mark Murray, Craig Bellamy, Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley is folly; as it is to boast Queenslanders are more passionate.

    You are always going to win a lot of games with Billy Slater at fullback, Cam Smith as hooker, and Darren Lockyer, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston as your choice of halves.

    Smith and Cronk are so well organised that the great Thurston can miss a game and a rookie like Cameron Munster can slot in and star.

    The current Australian spine does not have a NSW Blue, but if it was selected today on form, James Tedesco is the only player who could be mentioned in the same breath as the great Queenslanders.

    NSW do not have a half with big-time game management like Thurston and Cronk – we have to go back to 2005, when Andrew Johns dominated. That fact alone is a blight on our game in NSW.

    What are all the junior coaches doing? Queensland have at least three halves and two hookers who did not play in the Origin series this year that would have likely made the Blues team.

    The chances of NSW going on multiple years of Origin series wins will not happen unless Tedesco can find some mates.

    Mitch Pearce, James Maloney and Nathan Peats are all excellent club players, but will never be remembered like their Maroons counterparts.

    Peats does not kick, run or create points like Smith. He did not make a single tackle break during the series.

    Pearce’s long and short tactical kicking is poor, and he does not manage the big occasions like Cronk and Thurston. He also had zero line breaks and try assists for the series.

    Maloney missed 22 tackles in the series, conceded five penalties and made an error. He’s light years away from Thurston and Lockyer, and a raw rookie named Munster spanked him.

    James Maloney NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    Who have the Blues got in the locker to complement Tedesco?

    Sadly, the only player in the same class as Teddy is Tom Trbojevic, who happens to also play at fullback. Fortunately, he can also play centre and wing, which will enhance the Blues, but that does not help the spine.

    Young Panthers skipper Matt Moylan has recently been moved to 6 at club level, and he has the world at his feet. He is critical to the future of NSW as one of the few shining lights who can contribute to the spine.

    Moylan’s club half Nathan Cleary is the young gun with the big boot, but his last-tackle options have become predictable and would not trouble the Maroons.

    Who are the exciting young hookers putting their hands up? The short answer is no one.

    The Dragons’ Cameron McInnes, at 23, is just as good a defender at Peats, but is more dangerous with the ball and has a kicking game. The much-maligned Robbie Farah remains the only hooker level with Cam Smith for linebreak assists in the NRL this season, but the ‘greedy’ groundswell was too much and he lost his job.

    Peats is a media favourite and his work rate is outstanding, but as Smith demonstrated, the modern-day hooker needs to be able to run, scheme, kick and pass. The scary thing for NSW is that the aged Peter Wallace would have been the Blues hooker had he not been injured, and he has fewer skills than Peats.

    Anyone else in the locker?

    Tiger Jacob Liddle and Shark Jayden Brailey are certainly promising, but are years away from Origin.

    Sea Eagle Apisai Koroisau should be considered next year. His downside is that he misses more tackles than any other NRL hooker, but that is because he tries to tackle everything that moves. He is actually an excellent head-on defender who hurts, and a brilliant ball runner.

    Mitchell Pearce is a real enigma. How can a player be so dominant at club level and turn up on Origin night like a rabbit in the headlights?

    His last tackle options were straight out of the Bulldogs’ manual: down the fullback’s throat!

    I will always wonder how he would have performed without the burden of ‘running the team’ – if he had just played a running pivot role on the left side.

    So after NSW burn Mitch Pearce at the stake, who will rise up to replace him?

    Mitchell Pearce NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    One of the biggest problems for the Blues has been tactical kicking, a skill at which Adam Reynolds is as good as Cronk, and the Rabbitoh’s also an expert goal kicker. He was not considered for Origin this year, as he kept getting injured, and his inability to run to the line like Pearce at club level counted against him, but Reynolds will come into heavy calculations for 2018.

    Moylan and Trbojevic are rated in the top 13 players in NSW on my figures, so must be automatic selections.

    Brett Morris has been excellent this series but is expected to retire from rep footy and Blake Ferguson never looked like scoring a try but let plenty in, including the initial tries in each match. The Blues will have Tom T, Josh Mansour and Josh Addo-Carr to consider next year. It is unlikely that massive talents like Latrell Mitchell and Nick Cotric will be considered Origin ready.

    The Blues can play around with coaches, coaches’ advisers, change the backs and the forwards, but if they do not get the spine right, nothing else matters.

    There has been some outstanding coaches in charge of the Blues over the last 12 years – including arguably the best ever, in Craig Bellamy – so to lay any blame on Laurie Daley is way off the mark. This was not a coaching error, the coach does not make a player pass with the line open, nor does he kick a winning goal from the sideline.

    NSW were one pass away from Daley winning this series. They had it won with less than four minutes to go. There is no doubt the players were well prepared, they just lacked on-field leadership qualities when it counted.

    I disagree with Phil Gould when he said, “I don’t think this is about the selections.”

    The Maroons proved in Game 1 that they got it horribly wrong at the selection table and by Game 3 they had made an unprecedented nine changes, while the Blues chose to pick and stick.

    It is not always about selecting the best players analytically, but also the players who have a high ‘trust factor’. Trust is what the Maroons have in spades.

    These are players who may not be flashy but you would go to war with, players who the coach knows will do a job for him and he can trust not to let his teammates down.

    These are players who defend well under fatigue, who do not make unforced errors nor concede dumb penalties.

    Analytics can determine players with trust factors.

    You will note that the Storm players in the Maroons team, which include the entire spine, all rate highly in these important areas and have been curiously mentored by a former Blues coach, Craig Bellamy.

    Smith did not hesitate to suggest to Kevin Walters that Cam Muster should play the key pivot role, because he knew he could trust him.

    Queensland had a better spine, particularly a superior hooker and halfback, both of whom thrive on the big stage.

    You can trust them!

    For the NSW Blues, the hunt starts today.

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    The Crowd Says (65)

    • July 14th 2017 @ 8:53am
      Jeff dustby said | July 14th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      Article of the day

    • Roar Guru

      July 14th 2017 @ 8:59am
      ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Thanx Jeff, sadly the editors dont like it.
      It is amazing how many people have forgotten how NSW defeated Qld as easily as Qld won G3…it really did come down to that non pass by Hayne.
      NSW were the better team for most of the 3 games and have won 2 of the last 4. I would like Laurie to stay.

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 12:19pm
        Nat said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Good read Scott. Although you’ve let yourself on with this reply to Jeff. G3 2016 was a dead rubber and different NSW team. This hurts most for NSW fans is the fact they clearly remember winning G1 so easily and leading G2 only to be run down and then dominated in G3. 6pts in the final 120 mins this year is not the better team. I agree though, Hayne passes that ball and it’s a different story all together.

        • Roar Guru

          July 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm
          ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          Nat
          The entire left side (except Morris) lost sight of discipline when the series was virtually won in G2.
          Had Hayne passed Kevie Walters would be out of a job and not likely to be the next Broncos coach.
          Coaches can only do so much but the players must take ownership when the game is there to be won.

          • Roar Guru

            July 14th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            PNG Broncos fan88 said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Had Hayne passed Kevie Walters would be out of a job and not likely to be the next Broncos coach.”

            Poor wording mate, your whole article sounds like an excuse, ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’.
            Walters Broncos-style attack blew NSW out of the water in that first half, your pal Daley was scratching his head at half-time – no plan B means no clue whatsoever.
            Why are you so adamant in defending Pearce and Daley, who just aren’t good enough as play maker and coach at the Origin level.

            Thought NSW had the superior pack on paper and were getting to run rough shed over the inexperienced rookie pack. But in the wash up now its ‘culture-trust’ thing.

            Some of the excuses on the Roar this last two days are just comedy gold.

            • Roar Guru

              July 14th 2017 @ 1:23pm
              ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

              PNG
              I rate Kevie highly as a coach and so do people close to me who know him well. The fact is whoever lost this series was going have to defend their job. Thats a simple cruel fact.
              The media would have crucified Kevie had Hayne passed that ball which would have cost him the series.
              They would have said that he did not select Slater in G1 and made 7 changes in G2. His entire career would have been in jeopardy. I am happy for him that he is now the new King.
              It is hard to blame a single non pass, I could have easily mentioned a dumb penalty or a poor missed tackle.
              The fact is IMO the Origin had two outstanding young coaches and something had to be the loser.
              PNG, I cannot afford to make excuses and only deal in facts.
              If you noticed how NSW came out after HT you would have seen Plan B. They were strong, played smarter and looked on top after Dugan’s try. A dumb penalty gave Qld field position and the game changed again. They were too disciplined and too good on the night.
              I would defend Kevie if he lost the series under the same circumstances as Laurie. They are both quality coaches and the game needs people like that.

              • Roar Guru

                July 14th 2017 @ 3:52pm
                PNG Broncos fan88 said | July 14th 2017 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                Fair enough Scott, I truly thought NSW found that winning belief in game1 but I guess the nature of that emphatic victory got to their heads and egos.

            • July 14th 2017 @ 2:26pm
              Jimmmy said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

              Hi PNG. I loved your confidence before game three , settled me down a little. I am never confident , I just get very , very nervous. The walk to Suncorp was electric. Never fails to give me goosebumps. I lost my voice by half time but still managed to make some noise in the second half,. What a night for the faithful.
              PS I did tip you about Munster. What a debut !!!!

              • Roar Guru

                July 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm
                ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

                Jimmmy
                Paul Bunn found Munster for the Storm in Rocky and he just goes from strength to strength. He just continues to jump every hurdle in front of him. Not sure why Cordner tried to tackle him high.

              • Roar Guru

                July 14th 2017 @ 4:03pm
                PNG Broncos fan88 said | July 14th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

                I did lose my voice in the 2nd game, and from their I knew NSW were shot. You just don’t lose a match from 16-6 at home.

                You were spot on about Munster, he was terrific, he proved me wrong on all counts, the kid thrives in that arena.
                Glad you were at the Suncorp party…yippy yippee yay!

          • Roar Guru

            July 14th 2017 @ 1:17pm
            Nat said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

            I think you just made my point Scott. You referred to NSW as the better team yet it was the NSW players who capitulated when it mattered. The left side essentially cost G2 but all 4 Qld tries were down the right in G3. Munster, as a debutante run around the NSW Captain twice. . Virtually and If Only mean nothing. IF Qld score those two tries in G1, then Qld win the series in Sydney – doesn’t hold much water does it? The better team isn’t the one who is winning at half time.

            • Roar Guru

              July 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm
              ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

              Nat
              I cannot explain Cordner. He is so honest and consistent. he looked like someone had drugged his water.
              I was disappointed Tom T was not the right winger.

              • Roar Guru

                July 14th 2017 @ 2:12pm
                Nat said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

                Agreed. Pierce didn’t help the cause either. Cordner was to protect Pierce but the #7 kept sprinting out the line, leaving the hole. It was foot race Boyd was never going to win. I think you will find Ferguson just played Turbo into that team.

              • July 14th 2017 @ 5:14pm
                matth said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

                It adds to the theory that Cordner was really not fit.

              • Roar Rookie

                July 16th 2017 @ 2:03pm
                Bunney said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:03pm | ! Report

                Wouldn’t have made a difference in attack with “can’t pass Dugan” inside of him.
                \
                Probably would’ve in defence though – Fergo was horrid

          • July 15th 2017 @ 2:10pm
            Griffo said | July 15th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

            If Morris scores, which I’m not convinced he definitely would. I’d say he does more likely than not but I reckon it’s about a 60-40 likelihood.

            • Roar Rookie

              July 16th 2017 @ 2:04pm
              Bunney said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

              No way Griffo.
              Morris was a 90% chance of scoring if Hayne passes.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 10:00am
      BennO said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      Scott, I know from reading your articles over the years that you are a genuine expert in the game with an outstanding analytical capacity, and you’re in the midst of the game. But I think you’ve missed the mark here and you seem to be contradicting yourself somewhat too.

      From a mug’s perspective like mine, albeit a QLD one, I don’t think you can use an analytical approach to origin with the same degree of reliability as club games. For week in week out games, the moneyball approach works well. Stats are accumulated and clearly apply for a long competition where players might end up on autopilot a little more. I think Origin has shown over the years before 2006, that in many cases the underdog team can win. Not always of course, but the fact that the series were basically level before 2006 despite NSW consistently being judged to have the better team on paper, proved the old adage that a champion team will beat a team of champions.

      The first part of your article focuses on the individual talents of possible players. That’s of course useful, players need to be talented to play origin, but focusing on that ignores the mental stuff that comes with a team focus. The NSW focus is on the player whereas the QLD is on the team. That’s why, over the years, QLD has picked players who are unfancied but they’ve played out of their skin. It’s why the team could trust champions like Lockyer when they said on the field, be patient, follow the game plan and we’ll get home, despite being 10 points down with 10 to play.

      After focusing on the individual talents of the players you started to get to that with your trust argument, which in part contradicts the earlier stuff – analytics can determine players with trust? Analytics aren’t a part of that. That’s a team cultural thing.

      NSW needs to focus less on whether the individual players can do it and more on building a team culture that enshrines a knowledge (not just a belief) that the players can do it. That’s how QLD won series before 2006 despite very often being genuine underdogs on paper. And it’s why players like Pearce falter at that level for NSW but not QLD. The team culture doesn’t give them that knowledge that they can trust themselves (and their team mates) do the job.

      Get the team culture right and NSW could beat this QLD team and would have several times over the past decade – the closeness of most of the series show the players aren’t as far apart in talent, as people make out.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 10:21am
        Roberto said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        This post is better than the article, BennO you nailed it.

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 11:00am
        ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Benno,
        Thanx mate, I agree 100% and I just had that same conversation with the Storm Recruitment Manager Paul Bunn (a Queenslander) who wrote the book on culture.
        Laurie Daley is also massive on culture and he puts his trust into his players. Some of those players let him down at a crucial time, and it was not Mitch Pearce, although I agree he had a poor series.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 10:03am
      Martin Millard said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

      NSW game plan worked off the back of a rampaging forward pack in game 1 and everyone applauded Nathan Peats humble effort in allowing Pearce and Maloney to take control. But what about if your on the back foot?

      To get moving forward when you are on the back foot your Hooker needs to move with the ball to try and give his forwards one on one tackles, that way they can get post contact metres with quick play the balls. Ruck opens up, opportunities appear.

      I don’t know whether Peats is the right guy but I’m not sure who else NSW can look at. Cammeron McInnes?

      The funny thing is Robbie Farah is the exact opposite. He is great at getting the forwards driving over the advantage line but just doesn’t give his halves the ball when they need it

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 11:08am
        ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        Martin,
        You are correct mate.
        I know farah is not everyone’s cuppa tea, but he is the closest thing NSW have got to Cam Smith. The only other two with total skill sets are Cameron McInnes and Apisai Koroisau. Nathan Peats was a rank failure and the concern moving forward is that Peter Wallace would have been selected had he been fit.
        To be brutally honest, Farah would not pass the “culture” test with many, but I am sure the Maroons were happy when he was not selected.
        Getting the balance right is the trick.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 10:05am
      MAX said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Hi Scott,

      The editors are on a learning curve in understanding our game, hence they would not
      be able to appreciate a top quality article when it appeared on their screens.

      Eradicating self doubt from the squad so that trust has an opportunity to re-energise
      the Blues has now reached the stage of requiring a biblical miracle.

      I was lulled into thinking that O3 would be the ‘last hurrah’ for the big 3 together. Then
      the Blues would enjoy a decade of dominance. Munster put his hand up. It is the Blues
      who will be in the waiting room for another decade. The bell tolls. It tolls for NSW.

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 11:14am
        ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Max
        You actually can build a program based on culture, trust and reliability. It works!
        NSW lost the series largely because 3 players let the Maroons back into the game when the series was virtually won. Two of those three players rated 30th and 29th out of the 30 players under consideration for NSW selection.
        The cream rises to the top and the curdled milk drops to the bottom.

        • July 15th 2017 @ 8:51am
          Ruckin' Oaf said | July 15th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          “….when the series was virtually won.”

          Here’s a tip maybe for the NSW folk out there.

          1. Win the series
          – then celebrate the win

          2. Create the dynasty
          – the celebrate the dynasty

          A virtually won series is like that lotto ticket that will get me the next jackpot. It might be comforting to think about but it’s pretty close to useless.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 10:30am
      Jimmmy said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

      Hi Scott. Really enjoyed your thoughts and while I agree to an extent, what you don’t explain is how the QLD forward pack finished ahead of NSW in this series. The superstars Glasby, Wallace, Napa, Hess getting on top of the NSW pack in game three is the real story. Without the piggies mate ,a spine is as useless as Cordner practicing his victory speech.
      Call it passion , call it motivation , call it work ethic but something magical happened to our pack of forwards in games two and three as it has for much of the last thirty five years.

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 11:19am
        ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

        Jimmmy
        You make a valid point.
        The Maroons went forward in game 3 from minute 1 because of Cam Smith, his running and scheming was stunning and NSW could not handle him. His Storm combinations of Cronk, Munster and especially Slater took advantage of that because they knew what he would do. Munster made 2 line breaks and so did Slater.
        The best big forward in the series was Klemmer by a big margin. I will be surprised if he does not start next time.

        • July 14th 2017 @ 11:44am
          Jimmmy said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Agree on Klemmer . He was only one we could not keep quiet. Also agree that Smith is so much more effective when he takes at least a couple of steps from dh. But you tell me how did our pack keep Fifita, Woods, Cordner , Graham etc quiet? It is magic dust mate and we own the supply.

          • Roar Guru

            July 14th 2017 @ 12:03pm
            ScottWoodward.me said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            Jimmmy
            It is the same answer as I would give you why NSW did exactly the same to Qld in G1 and 2.
            NSW started the 2nd half in G3 very strongly and looked on top after the try, then sadly Graham gave away a dumb penalty and that was the end of the surge.
            The NSW forwards overall were inept in G3, game 1 and 2 they were great. There are many factors and playing at Suncorp is a big one, but I have no excuse for them.
            They made it very difficult for Pearce to kick to open ground.

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