WIZ: ‘T-Rex’ Williams to prove the difference in Origin opener

Gary Freeman Columnist

By Gary Freeman, Gary Freeman is a Roar Expert

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    Tony Williams was at the centre of the latest NRL refereeing controversy. (AAP Image/Action Photographic, Robb Cox)

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    Des Hasler has been an absolute rock of support for Tony ‘T-Rex’ Williams at Canterbury. But up until recent weeks, the giant back-rower hasn’t been the impact player for the Bulldogs that he was at Manly.

    Now Williams is being shown similar support from NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley and I’ve got a hunch it will pay big dividends on Wednesday night at Suncorp Stadium.

    T-Rex looks to have finally regained much of his feared, rampaging mojo. Coming off the bench he can cause drama aplenty for the Maroons, especially if he aims his huge frame at Queensland’s smaller men.

    Interstate games will never come bigger than this one with the home crowd at fever pitch celebrating the 100th Origin contest.

    That, in itself, should stoke the fires in Williams’ belly and all the criticism he has worn over the past season or so will disappear when he is called into battle.

    I really like the look of the re-built NSW team, which has a smattering of new players and numerous club combinations featured. I originally thought that the Blues should consider Jarryd Hayne for a wing spot, but his fabulous form for Parramatta demanded that he be picked at fullback.

    As many agree here on The Roar, Hayne has that X-factor that can have the Maroons in two minds, and if he gets through a gap or comes up with an unexpected kick or clever pass, it may well decide the issue.

    Of course, the big attention will be focused on NSW’s new scrum-base pairing of Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds. Can they transfer their excellence at club level to the origin arena? That’s the $64 question.

    They will be subjected to enormous pressure by the Queensland defence, but these are tough competitors who seem to thrive when the heat is on.

    Reynolds is often a cheeky, in-your-face player with a touch of mongrel that I believe is needed to succeed in Origin football. If people think he won’t hesitate putting a huge hit on Thurston or Slater, well, they haven’t been watching the same player as me.

    Hodkinson’s kicking skills will be severely tested in this game and I reckon he’ll handle that side of his debut with aplomb. I’d just like to see him run the ball a bit more to keep opposing tacklers guessing.

    The Queensland team is gunning for an amazing ninth straight series win and they will start the game as comfortable favourites to take Game 1 in the series.

    Their team list reads like a who’s who of modern Origin history, but they are not unbeatable. The Blues are getting closer every year, with thrilling contests going down to the final 10 minutes.

    I have been picking NSW to win the series for the past five or six seasons without any luck. Some wags have pleaded with me to tip the Queenslanders in the series opener but I’m refusing to budge.

    Therefore, the Wizard is picking the Blues to win by four on Wednesday night – with big T-Rex proving the difference.

    Gary Freeman
    Gary Freeman

    Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • May 24th 2014 @ 7:40am
      db swannie said | May 24th 2014 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      T REX.
      The softest forward(look at his size)I have seen in the last 15 yrs.
      If he is a saviour or the answer then NSW are so far up Shit creek they might never come back.

    • May 24th 2014 @ 9:03am
      Realist 1975 said | May 24th 2014 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      To ensure Williams plays well on Wednesday, someone has to put to him directly that this will be his last Origin unless he performs. Along the same lines as what the NSW selectors told Mark Geyer prior to SOO2 1991. He has got the size but will be up against the same personnel that he has yet to outplay in Origin. If NSW lose the forward battle then T-Rex will be severely behind the 8 ball as he needs momentum to be devastating. This origin team doesn’t provide him with the ultimate platform that he is normally accustomed to at the dogs in Graham, Kasiano & Toleman. To succeed someone has to get him into a legal rage as otherwise he will just be another 1st grader in a SOO arena. That adrenaline rush would suit his probable 15 minute stints. No adrenaline will see him eaten up by the Queenslanders.

    • Roar Guru

      May 24th 2014 @ 10:44am
      Knightblues said | May 24th 2014 @ 10:44am | ! Report

      TRex cant handle origin, hes a pretender and a passenger, we should have gone with someone more solid than him as in we know they wont let us down, this guy will, I hope he makes me eat my words of course, but I think Laurie has well and truly screwed the pooch here.

    • May 24th 2014 @ 11:01am
      Bearfax said | May 24th 2014 @ 11:01am | ! Report

      Still working with Dessie over at the Bulldogs Wizz. Your promotion of Hodkinson, Reynolds and T-Rex does seem to suggest a certain K9 flavour, especially when suggesting they will assist the Blues in their quest to wrench back that trophy that has been growing algae up there in the tropical climes through such little movement.

      Solid players all but do they have your magic, or the magic of Inglis, Slater, Thurston and the creativity of Williams, Cronk and DCE. The Blues have Hayne as a game breaker but little else. The Morris brothers are fast and enthusiastic, the forwards such as Lewis and Watmough creative, and a solid hard working bunch around them led by Gallin. But do they have those special players who create something out of nothing.

      That’s why QLD continues to win and may the Rugby League gods help us when Barba and Milford mature. If NSW win this year, it will be a Herculean performance of tight play by their forward pack and a little bit of magic by Hayne. Reynolds, Williams and Hodkinson will do their part and are solid players, but my gut says with this bunch of players, that we’ve got another year of shedding bitter tears, rending those loved guernseys and lamenting that long lost trophy wrenched from its proper homeland in NSW

    • May 24th 2014 @ 2:14pm
      Sir Jamie Lyon said | May 24th 2014 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      You post those comments but not mine. Bah

      • May 24th 2014 @ 6:04pm
        scott said | May 24th 2014 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

        I thought Jamie Lyon retired from rep football?

    • May 25th 2014 @ 10:45am
      hindsight said | May 25th 2014 @ 10:45am | ! Report

      this bloke is injured (lower back) and has been playing this way for years

      might get away with it at NRL level but not in origin

      last start in origin he passed the ball more times than Pearce I thought he was playing half

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