The New South Wales Blues are in the unfamiliar position of coming into a State of Origin series as defending champions, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any changes to the Brad Fittler’s side when he names it next month.
New South Wales weathered Queensland’s ‘perfect’ storm for 25 minutes to be just 6-0 behind, but the floodgates then opened to be 24-0 down and the game all but lost. We evaluate the NSW players: who got it right, and who went missing for the Blues.
NSW Blues player ratings:
‘The Count’ turned into ‘Butterfingers’. Minichiello made a lot of crucial mistakes, highlighted by his inability to gather a Darren Lockyer kick when he played at the ball with his knees, enabling Queensland winger Jharal Yow Yeh to pounce and score a soul-destroying try.
Not the fullback’s greatest game.
Outstanding. Was brilliant in defence, and even better in attack. It seemed like he burst through the Maroons defence every opportunity he was given, and it’s ridiculous to think he wasn’t selected in game I.
His ball security was once again questionable. Threw the final pass that led to Uate’s try, but was uncharacteristically quiet in attack all series long.
Like Gasnier, his ball security cost NSW dearly in the first half. Showed again that when given space, he’s a dangerous and speedy customer. But surely that should be true of any winger at this level?
Runs the ball back as hard as winger in recent memory. NSW have found themselves a real gem in the Newcastle flyer, and he’ll challenge for the title of best winger in the world over the coming years.
Has a tendency to stand too deep in attack, which means he needs to kick the ball 10 to 20 metres further than necessary to be truly effective. It’s a strange quirk in his game that needs to be addressed.
However, whilst he missed his body guard, Beau Scott, he certainly proved once and for all that he belongs at this level.
Only had one kick in the first 25 minutes, and he booted it out on the full. Totally unacceptable for an halfback to practically disappear for the first 30 minutes in each game of an Origin series.
Stuart labelled him the best halfback in the game, but he’s not even in the top five this season. When a team lacks structure in attack, the halfback needs to take full responsibility.
Made a great burst and subsequent pass to put Morris in a gap in the first half, and managed a zero-value consolation try, but otherwise, was far from his best. Only showed glimpses of what he’s capable of.
Tried hard, but Queensland were wise to his tactic of running inside his ball players, and they were there to meet him every time he attempted the play. Lacked impact.
Did a mountain of work in defence, as you would expect of someone replacing Beau Scott. However, whilst he threatened on the fringes, he lacked the impact in attack that I thought he might have.
Paul Gallen (c)
Once again, was NSW’s best forward, and made an incredible 52 tackles in defence. If you’re looking for a reason that the Blues lost this series, look elsewhere. Their captain was sensational again.
The niggly hooker was injured early and didn’t return.
The Parramatta prop showed some early desperation in saving a try, but when that’s the highlight of your night, you’ve had a tough game.
No one doubts his class, and his dummy half play and passes was certainly more crisp that Ennis. But he just didn’t seem in sync in attack. Perhaps it was due to the fact he had to make over 40 tackles in defence.
Worked hard, and threw an unbelievable pass that led to NSW’s first try. But you’ll go another 30 games before you see him miss tackles and make the mistakes that he did last night.
His unbelievable leg power, and keenness to get involved ensures he’ll always be the ideal Origin bench player. A constant threat to Queensland with his low-to-the ground runs.
Was given limited opportunity, and did nothing wrong – but nothing of note either.