Queensland’s loyalty policy is a lie

Christian D'Aloia Roar Guru

By Christian D'Aloia, Christian D'Aloia is a Roar Guru

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    As the dust settles on yet another lost Origin series for the Blues, it seems a change of tactics should be on the cards for NSW if they hope to return to their former interstate glory.

    It seemed a forgone conclusion that Queensland’s brutal decade of dominance had come to a bitter end after they were delivered a 28-4 shellacking in the opening game of the series at Suncorp Stadium.

    For many, myself included, the writing was on the wall for Queensland the moment coach Kevin Walters announced the omission of the in-form and devastating Billy Slater, favouring the incumbent Darius Boyd and Justin O’Neill at fullback and centre respectively.

    After all, Boyd and O’Neill had got the job done in 2016 and were to be faithfully rewarded by the selection panel as per Queensland’s legendary ‘loyalty policy’.

    True to form, Walters would also go on to select a cavalry of Maroon legends who similarly had served Queensland admirably over the last decade, despite rather disheartening club form. Such players included Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Aiden Guerra and Jacob Lillyman – all of whom were struggling to lock down starting spots in their respective club sides.

    Throw in a debutant in the front row in Dylan Napa, and there was little doubt that NSW’s young and in-form monster forward pack would dominate the middle of the field through the likes of Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Jake Trbojevic.

    Nobody, however, could have foreseen the degree to which the NSW forwards – led by Fifita – would dominate their Maroon counterparts, laying the platform for their backs to complete a brilliant victory and surely send the Queensland brains-trust into turmoil.

    The latter appeared to come to fruition before Game 2, with the famous loyalty policy – often credited for a major role in Queensland’s dominance – abandoned without so much as batting an eyelash in pursuit of greener pastures.

    Each of Myles, Thaiday, Guerra and Lillyman were dropped for the far better performing Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess, Gavin Cooper and Tim Glasby, all of which were strong selections but, on paper, paled in comparison to the might of NSW. To some, it exposed the relative lack of depth in Queensland’s forward stocks when compared to NSW and even their own spine depth.

    Cameron Munster Queensland Maroons State of Origin 2017

    (AAP Image/Darren England)

    Similarly, Slater was recalled to fullback, and O’Neill and Corey Oates were dropped to accommodate Sharks livewire Valentine Holmes.

    The loyalty policy was no more, and as far as anyone south of the Tweed was concerned, so too was Queensland.

    And yet, in true Queensland spirit, the Maroons rallied to overcome a 16-6 deficit and clinch victory from the jaws of defeat when a NSW series win seemed all but certain.

    In the same shade of so many failed NSW campaigns before them, Queensland continued to chop and change their team for Game 3, this time due to injury. An injury to Boyd saw him replaced in the centres by regular utility Michael Morgan, while an injury to legendary five-eighth Johnathan Thurston resulted in debut call ups for the in-form Cameron Munster in the halves and the Broncos’ Ben Hunt on the bench.

    With that, Queensland would cycle through their third different halves pairing for the series, using a total of 26 different players. Their Blue opponents, meanwhile, would name the same 17 for the entire series for the first time since 1996, clearly believing this was the recipe for success in State of Origin.

    Laure Daley NSW Blues State of Origin NRL 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    If there is a lesson to be learned for NSW in the light of their embarrassing Game 3 and series defeat, it is that Queensland’s much-heralded tale of loyalty being the catalyst for their dominance is little more than a myth.

    Instead, the answer is far more obvious – Queensland picks on form. The ‘damning’ fact that their team has rarely changed over the years is simply because the team’s nucleus in Slater, Thurston, Cronk and Smith never seem to be out of form. With the vast majority of the supporting cast following suit, it suddenly becomes very easy to be ‘loyal’.

    Sneaky as ever, Queensland fooled NSW into a false sense of security – they had them believe loyalty would cultivate success. As one would have it, apparently the key is multiple once-in-a-generation players and a carefully structured winning culture to boot.

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • July 17th 2017 @ 11:03am
      Raugeee said | July 17th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

      Picking the same 17, trying to emulate 1996, was ridiculous. NSW had no tricks up their sleeve so QLD went out and put into practice their well drilled defensive plans and the rest was easy.

      Over the past 12 years QLD could afford some “loyalty” to one or two out of form players because of their dominance. In time those players would return to form and voila! The debt of gratitude is repaid. I cried when the QLD team for Game 1 was read out. In hindsight, it was the best thing. Defeat whets the appetite for victory. The scene was set for a remarkable QLD comeback. I savoured every moment of it.

    • Roar Guru

      July 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm
      Michael Keeffe said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

      QLD’s greatest loyalty is to success.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 12:46pm
      jewboy said | July 17th 2017 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

      Qld’s loyality is an ongoing thing.They may be cut from the main’ herd’ but they are put in a greener paddock next to where the team train, so as they can keep an eye on the new boys and encourage and advise them when required.

      • July 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm
        Raugeee said | July 17th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

        Lovely

    • July 17th 2017 @ 2:24pm
      Bert said | July 17th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

      Queenslander!!!

      NSW people just don’t get it.

      • Roar Guru

        July 17th 2017 @ 4:34pm
        Nat said | July 17th 2017 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

        Bert are you actually Qlder or just rubbing it into NSW supporters? In every article since G3 you wrote in every umpteen times it was all Melbourne not Qld.

        Qlders are about Qld, not the team that supplies the players.

        • July 18th 2017 @ 11:00am
          Bert said | July 18th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          I am Cameron Smith’s alter ego after he has a couple of drinks.

          • Roar Guru

            July 18th 2017 @ 3:03pm
            Nat said | July 18th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

            As I thought. 80… y/o keyboard warrior. Don’t associate yourself with Cam Smith, he’s 50yrs younger and wouldn’t agree with a word you’ve written on Roar.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 5:29pm
      John said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

      Even before this series the Queensland loyalty was shown to be a myth. Meninga retired around 30 players from Origin and only a handful of truly great Origin players actually got to leave on their own terms.

      https://www.qt.com.au/news/why-the-maroons-legendary-loyalty-is-a-myth/3185083/

      • July 17th 2017 @ 7:01pm
        jewboy said | July 17th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

        John, I don’t know whether I’d call it being disloyal when some particular players are left out of the team , I think it maybe beinging realistic sometimes.
        I’m sure if you go through most of thoses players mentioned, you would find that age and injuries would account for a lot of those omissions and yes loss of form must be taken into account.
        To maintain State Of Origin at the high standard it has reached, all these factors should and must come be consideration.
        Sadly it’s a part of life called , ‘the ageing process’, which none of us can avoid, and I don’t know about you but I think it’s sad to see a top claas player, play a year or two longer than he should.
        Although I can see how hard it would be to walk away from the life-style and money that comes with being a top palyer I think it is better to let the player know his use by date is coming up and hope he makes his own decision to retire rather than being droped.
        So that is why I say sometimes disloyalty can be mistaken for realism.

    • July 17th 2017 @ 9:09pm
      Olo said | July 17th 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

      how is this still something people don’t understand?

      win a game – keep players responsible for winning
      lose a game – replace players responsible for losing

      obviously it’s a blurred line and there are exceptions but this is the general rule.

      capiche?

      catfish!

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