Des Hasler insists Manly’s big-name absentees can’t be to blame for the Sea Eagles’ third straight loss as he battles to stop his side’s sudden inconsistencies.
Residents of Brisbane can now safely walk Caxton St again after Queensland saved face and widespread rioting with a consolation 32-8 win in the final game of the 2014 Origin series.
Here is the rundown for every player that wore the famous Maroon for this year’s tilt at glory and a rating for their overall performance across the three games.
Billy Slater – 8
He’s back! Or did he ever leave? I’m confused. Either way, despite a banged-up chassis and the engulfing shadow of Jarryd Hayne, the Innisfail slasher dripped with class in another sterling series for his state.
Darius Boyd – 6
Kicked off the series playing club footy like he was on the breadline. By the end, was back to somewhere close to his brash and bouncy best. All except for the beard, which makes him look like he’s still on the breadline.
Greg Inglis – 7
Let’s be honest, this guy failed us. He didn’t dazzle us with spades of unbelievable magic, he didn’t produce superhuman flair, he didn’t humiliate his opponents with astonishing highlights and he didn’t even cure world hunger – until Game 3 when he electrified everyone.
Justin Hodges – 6
The old bloke clocked-on for his usual shift: stealing dummy half runs, fending blokes in the lips, getting up in some grills and all the while, still running his free life advice sessions for his opponents. Not his barn-burning best, but still multi-faceted.
Brent Tate – 5
While one of the preferred piñatas for Blues fans over the years, nobody wishes him anything but a speedy healing after another gut-wrenching knee injury finished him in game two. Workmanlike in his two appearances.
Will Chambers – 4
Featured in the final game and gave a frisky return in a high-octane first half. Someone must have stolen his hat.
Johnathan Thurston – 5
By his lofty standards, the champion playmaker won’t be fast-tracking this series in to his scrapbook- in fact, he would probably prefer to use the newspaper clippings to create a bonfire for a Josh Reynolds effigy.
Cooper Cronk – 6
Rushed back from a broken forearm sustained in Game 1 to give Queensland direction and Craig Bellamy an ulcer. Made the miraculous recovery using ‘potions and lotions’ – something I believe he scored from the Essendon club doctor.
Daly Cherry-Evans – 6
The Manly halfback comes across as one of those pleasant and gentle-natured fellows who would probably save a kitten from the middle of a roaring freeway. Therefore, it hurts me to say this – while he did his best on one leg, he just couldn’t nail his Cooper impersonation in Game 2 when it was most needed.
Matt Scott – 6
The robust bopper disappeared after coming a gutser in Sydney but when he was around, he was his usual bullish presence. Continues to show he’s more country-tough than a rum-varnished bumper bar covered in B+S Ball stickers.
Cameron Smith – 7
Still better than Robbie Farah and cemented his supremacy with a dour 1-0 series victory in the head-to-head meat pie count. Despite being on the losing side, it was another series where he was the ultimate league gentleman – eloquent with officialdom, stylish with creativity and discreet with knees.
Nate Myles – 9
What more can you say about this leviathan? With his tireless work ethic and land-clearing scone, he is now the premier cornerpiece of the Maroons pack. An unbreakable force across the three games who constantly vended the pain for free.
Aiden Guerra – 7
Good on ya, fella. By showing you can competently make the step from club to interstate level, you’re officially part of Queensland’s Generation Next. Take your place alongside Cherry-Evans, Matt Gillett, Chris McQueen and Justin Hodges.
Matt Gillett – 6
Let’s look at this guy’s pet play. If you freeze it here on the telestrator, you’ll see that people still don’t know how to correctly pronounce his name. Still smoothing the edges of his game, however kept putting his hand up for the dirty work right throughout the series.
Sam Thaiday – 6
His beefy charges were sorely missed in Game 1 and he went within a bee’s of scoring what would’ve surely been the clincher in Sydney. There’s no doubting that he adds punch, flair and an extra man to any two-man brouhaha.
Corey Parker – 7
The Benjamin Button of the Maroons who plays the valuable role of invisible janitor around the ruck and unsung metre-maker combined. For an oldie, you know the saying – he’s red wine, and he was sorely missed in game two.
Jacob Lillyman – 5
Came in to camp for two games and did the job requested of him by coach Meninga. Made more than 10 hit-ups and 15 tackles per game and played anything by Willie Nelson on request around the campfire.
Ben Te’o – 6
Does anyone know what this bloke is doing next year? Some say his agent has been advised to find a club that is ‘nowhere in range of any ginger journos’, so I guess the NRL and Scotland are off the list. It’s unfortunate, as his spice off the bench would certainly be welcomed back again.
Chris McQueen – 4
Quiet in his two games played after setting a high standard with an impressive debut in 2013. Nonetheless, was eventually granted a chunkified contract upgrade by Souths last week after much wrangling, so he’ll be reflecting on his efforts from a nice place – like a higher tax bracket.
Dave Taylor – 4
Once again, maligned by Maroons fans and loved by the Blues. So in response to being blamed for everything from an unfulfilled Origin career to the demise of Brazilian soccer, he’s already pulled out the trump card of threatening to defect to rugby.
Josh Papalii – 4
Only featured in Game 1 after succumbing to an ankle injury, however captured the hearts and minds of a state in the match when he attempted a rare bifurcation of Paul Gallen.