Why City-Country is valuable to the Blues

9 Have your say

    Let’s face it, after seven years and seven series losses, New South Wales Origin needs all the help it can get.

    The stats speaks for themselves. In the 21 matches since NSW won a series, Queensland have scored 419 points at an average of almost 20 per game, while NSW has managed only 315 – an average of just 15 per game.

    The Maroons have also scored 73 tries (3.4 per game) to NSW’s 55 (2.6 per game) while the Blues have never reached 30 points in a single match – a feat Queensland has achieved four times.

    There are many reasons for the disparity, some of them self-inflicted, others uncontrollable, and there’s no quick-fix remedy.

    What is certain, though, is that the City-Country game should be part of the solution, not the problem.

    Over the last couple of days, a wave of anti-City-Country sentiment has swamped Sydney.

    On Triple M, Mark Geyer called for the game to be scrapped or modified while others raised doubts about fan interest and questioned its relevance.

    “We are putting our best players out on the field when Queensland sit back and laugh at us saying ‘are you blokes still playing this, honestly?'” said Geyer.

    I agree with some of what MG said, but there’d be more merit in that argument if most of the Queensland side weren’t running around in Australian colours on the same weekend.

    Exacerbated by the withdrawal of several players during the week, most of the criticism stems from the out-dated notion many are still clinging to that City-Country is a genuine Origin selection match.

    It isn’t, so we need to alter our perceptions of the game.

    It was once a good old-fashioned grudge match which gave country players a chance to take on the well-heeled city-slickers, but like the shoulder charge and mounds of sand for kicking tees, those days are gone.

    So are the days of it being a legitimate trial for State of Origin – Blues coach Laurie Daley has already said publicly that most of the squad has already been picked.

    What the game does is give present and prospective Origin players valuable experience playing together.

    It’s no wonder the spine of the Melbourne Storm – Slater, Cronk and Smith – are three of the first names Mal Meninga and Tim Sheens jot down when they compile their starting teams for Queensland and the Kangaroos.

    Those three players play together every week – every day in fact – and the more time NSW affords its players to do the same thing, the better the combinations and understanding between them will be.

    It’s not just on game day either. Training and staying together through the week is invaluable in building connections.

    You can also learn a lot about your potential teammate by playing against him – when does a half like to run, when will a centre pass outside him.

    Getting the chance to play against future Origin teammates gives an insight into what they will do on the big stage, and also what Queensland will be up against. It’s the little things.

    Tony Williams is a good example. It’s no secret he hasn’t been playing to his full potential this season, but are we really ready to throw him on the Origin scrapheap?

    He could easily play his way back into form between now and June (T-Rex was influential for NSW in Origin One last year in his first game back from a seven-week suspension) and should be given every opportunity to play valuable minutes with potential Blues teammates; and them with him.

    The argument that we know what players like Robbie Farah and Jarryd Hayne can do so we don’t need to see them on trial merely serves to shoot NSW in the foot.

    Even the supreme athletes will benefit from more game time together.

    The Kiwis are a case in point. New Zealand hasn’t won a one-off Test match in I don’t know how long, but are always dangerous at the back end of tournaments.

    If we can eliminate some of the hype and just let them play football, maybe NSW will start pegging back some of those sorry statistics.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • Roar Guru

      April 19th 2013 @ 6:52am
      peeeko said | April 19th 2013 @ 6:52am | ! Report

      any rep game involving, curtis sironen, nathan peats and james tedesco as an origin trial is a complete waste of time

      • April 19th 2013 @ 12:34pm
        Brendan Bradford said | April 19th 2013 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

        It’ll be good for those three players, who could be future Origin players. Have to look long term, not just this year.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 7:20am
      oikee said | April 19th 2013 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      This is the sort of promotional game that is perfect for the bush communities. Outside taking club games to bush grounds, this has most of the better NRL players giving the kids in the bush a oppotunity to meet and see these players.
      Even if the game means nothing in the eyes of city folk, for the value that our code gets out of this game is reason we should support and keep this game.
      It is the perfect foil as well, a little more light hearted than a intense Origin or test match would be.
      Understanding the market is where our code has fell down too many times. The market for this game is perfect. And the towns bid to have this game in their country town.
      I think Queensland also has a city country game, not as high profile as this game, so NSW are already way ahead with this setup.
      Why would you want to get rid of that, ? because the media told you, when you start listening to what the media are tewlling you, it is time to pull the plug, pack up shop, grab your bat and ball and go home.
      Being lead blindly by the media only to drink stagnet water is not a good look, and too many people are falling hook line and sinker which if left un-checked, could be decremental to our code.
      To build tranditional games you have to start somewhere. This game is only young, same as our Anzac test, the point being we must support these concepts, not keep falling into the trap of the games being a waste of time.
      Thjey are not a waste of time, i enjoy the concept, the country people love the concept, it is a chance for them to beat their city cousins.
      Why are we always trying to kill off sound concepts. The media are not much help, as gand-dad once told me, if you dont have anything good to say, dont say anything at all.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 9:10am
      dayer said | April 19th 2013 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Scrap this silly game, it does not matter in QLD and or Australia.

      • April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am
        oikee said | April 19th 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        And scrap all other codes not played in Queensland, i dont want to see them.
        Dayer, NSW is in Australia, or you that dumb.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 11:48am
      turbodewd said | April 19th 2013 @ 11:48am | ! Report

      City-Country is a joke. noone invites their mates around to watch it.

      There is no passion for it! None.

      Do country folk want the city slickers to get pounded?!

      Its an artificial construct, totally bogus.

    • April 19th 2013 @ 4:30pm
      RepFan said | April 19th 2013 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

      If, in the future, they decide to get rid of this Anzac test/rep weekend all together then there will no longer be room in the calendar for a game such as this. However as it stands what is the harm in allowing young/upcoming talented players the chance to play along side other NSW origin contenders and leaders in a rep football setting?

      I agree that the concept of a trial for the upcoming origin series is a bit outdated. It would make more sense if it were treated as an exhibition match for an emerging or upcoming origin talent squad. Why could they not also promote a similar game to be played in rural QLD?

      This weekend should be promoted even more and should be about celebrating and promoting the wonderful spectacle that is rep football at all levels. It should be about building up relationships with and the profile of the rural rugby league clubs where a lot of talent comes from. Instead it seems to have become a weekend for people to bitch and moan about the interruption from the all powerful NRL competition.

      • Roar Guru

        April 20th 2013 @ 12:08pm
        turbodewd said | April 20th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Mate, you nailed it.

        The ANZAC test and City Country are both dead concepts. Ive always known City v Country is an appendix, a complete waste of time.

        But I was at the ANZAC Test last night and the huge silence of the crowd was due to the passion from the players. There is none. The players arent into this and therefore the crowd wasnt.

        We were only there out of obligation! Because its marketed as ANZAC and weve never had such an event in Canberra.

        The ANZAC Test is a ceremonial event and it shows!

    • April 20th 2013 @ 2:32pm
      andrew said | April 20th 2013 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

      city country is a promotional game for sountry but its also useful for the young blues when the selcetors finally decide to change mitchell pearce and other underperforming player in a couple of years when it’s 10 straight losses

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