Queensland is great, NSW is not, Origin is dead. Now what do we do?

Matt Cleary Columnist

By , Matt Cleary is a Roar Expert

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    So – where to now, NSW Blues, if that really is your name, for so forlorn was that performance Wednesday night that we, the people of New South Wales – Believers, damn you! Rate-payers! – have just about given up and are asking aloud in disbelief, in the time-honoured way: who are you people?

    Scrap that: ‘Just about’ given up? No – it’s over. We are done. Let’s give up. The NSW Blues may never win again. Ever or indeed ever. And State of Origin, as a concept, as a contest, as a 34-man monster mash of interstate mate hate is done and done, and done.

    It’s done. It’s over.

    No it’s not. For doth did a record crowd of 55,450 people watch the match from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, and 55.4 bazillion million watched on TV around the world, and the Origin leviathan lives on, a repeating soap opera of death in which the same character dies over and over and over again.

    And therein lies the strength of Origin: there is only ever one winner and it doesn’t matter. Such is the strength of the brand that everyone still turns up.

    That’s a brand, there, that brooks no argument: there is only ever one winner and if you don’t like it, suck it up, you dirty little Cock-a-roche, suck it up.

    Your correspondent and some golf mates bravely watched some of the first half of Origin III up in Noosa in a pub that couldn’t make the Channel Nine coverage work for extended periods – one job, Laguna Jack’s, one job – so we went over to the Noosa Surf Club and sat among Queenslanders who revelled and quite verily in the ritual disembowelling their boys were meting out.

    Queenslanders love beating NSW in State of Origin. It never gets old.

    I asked one of those mates from golf, former Blues and Bears man Donny McKinnon, what do you reckon, Donny – does Laurie Daley survive? And he said, in a sort of illuminating way: “I dunno. Does he want to?”

    Laure Daley NSW Blues State of Origin NRL 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Which leads to an interesting thought: Does coach Daley even want to hang around these Blues men and thus dull his legacy by attaching himself to an annual painful ritual disembowelling?

    I mean, he’s got other things to do, Laurie. He’s not short of a quid. He could go on the telly and just talk about footy, talk about some other shmo being belted by Canetoads each year, over and over and over again. That would have its allure.

    Know what I reckon he’ll do? Good bloke that he is he’ll fall on his sword and say it’s time for someone else to have a crack. I’ve given it everything and I’m done. And lo the people of rugby league would say, yes, you probably are, Laurie Daley, go well.

    Is that it for Cooper Cronk? Maybe. But you’d wonder why given how good he is, how enjoyable beating up on the Blues is. Ditto Billy Slater and Cameron Smith upon whom you could’ve got $7 to be man-of-the-match for, which seems obvious now given he’s Cameron Smith and, you know, he’s Cameron Smith.

    Maybe those guys and Johnathan Thurston could play Origin only. Become that New Breed of Footy Player, the rep-only man. Maybe they could retire from the weekly grind of the NRL and thus enjoy life, and keep fit, and six weeks a year emerge to beat up on the poor, puzzled, pizzled NSW Blues.

    Hey, they thawed out Alfie. Perhaps they can herald the New Queenslander, the Uber Queenslander – the super man who comes back only to play three games a year and continue to beat up on the Blues, to continue the pain that their fellow Queenslanders find so enjoyable.

    Or maybe they could just retire.

    The Blues? Who to pick? Who to drop? Would any of it even matter?

    I’d go with Matt Moylan in the No.6 and retain James Maloney in the No.7, and I plumped for that pre-series but they didn’t listen to me. And, well, how many lifeboats can you put on the Titanic.

    Josh Dugan NSW Blues State of Origin 2017

    (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

    Get rid of Mitchell Pearce? Well, yes, you could get rid of Mitchell Pearce, and that would assuage those modern day vocalists of the popular zeitgeist, the Haters, whoever they are, people who yell things at others without the fear that Mitchell Pearce can watch them saying it, and respond, and all that.

    Or maybe they just don’t rate Mitchell Pearce.

    But here’s the thing: Mitchell Pearce is the best halfback in the state of NSW. And that’s the state of the state of NSW – Mitchell Pearce is the best halfback in NSW.

    Could we get Daly Cherry-Evans? The Queenslanders don’t want him. Surely he qualifies in terms of citizenship. He lives near Dee Why, Narrabeen, somewhere there. He’ll do!

    Might they recruit Sam Burgess? He could certainly get Australian citizenship though he would probably play for Queensland because a) England, as we know, is in Queensland, and b) Queensland is really good and NSW is not really good, and why play for the dud state if you’re going to cross the largest of Rubicons and change your very citizenship, you may as well do it for the state that’s not prone to choking on the grandest stage in front of 59.4 bazillion million people.

    Get rid of Brett Morris? Who would you put in his stead? Josh Morris? Maybe it was Josh Morris who played the other night. Maybe neither Morris played, so starved of ball and unsighted was the person meant to be on the left wing for NSW it was hard to tell.

    Jarryd Hayne? Anonymous. Which is not what you want from your star, the one you look up to rip off the funky. Our Hayne Plane was grounded, in the hangar, crashed in the Andes waiting for the Uruguayan rugby team to emerge and eat each other.

    Jarryd Hayne NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Oh? Bring in Tommy ‘Turbo’ Trbojevic? A man whose name is spelled by throwing up the alphabet and taking out all the vowels? Yes, pick him. Tommy. He is very good.

    My man Donny used to be a copper in North Sydney and worked with a Russian bloke who didn’t have a vowel in his name until the seventh letter. Old mate arrested Roger Rogerson.

    This is nothing to do with State of Origin but is a tidy little yarn, and a better one than State of Origin story which is dead as fried chicken.

    No it’s not.

    But Tommy T’s going to be in a blue jumper next year, along with his brother Jake, and the pair will be mainstays until 2027 when NSW might win a series once the Uber Queenslanders Slater and Cronk and Smith and Thurston (and Inglis and Scott and Boyd) are well into their 40s and tired of tormenting the NSW Blues with their high-skilled and super-fine rugby league.

    So: Queensland is great, NSW is not, and Origin is dead.

    Anyone got any other ideas?

    Matt Cleary
    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary is a sports writer from Sydney. He enjoys golf, footy and Four Pines Pale Ale, and spends as much time as conscience allows at Long Reef GC. Tweet him @journomatcleary, or read him at his website.

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