State of Origin is finished for another year, and some players have enhanced their reputations, while others may not be seen in the Origin cauldron again.
1) Cooper Cronk’s broken arm was key
With Cronk injured 10 minutes into the first game and missing game two, Queensland will wonder what might have been. Cronk’s return for Game 3 was incredible, he marshalled his troops and outplayed his opposite all night. Daly Cherry-Evans is the future but Cronk is going nowhere.
2) New South Wales played well for 40 minutes
With the series won and the final game in Queensland, it was always going to be tough for the Blues. They showed incredible ability to defend their line on numerous occasions but the try to Cameron Smith before halftime and Billy Slater’s after the break broke them.
Josh Dugan’s try got them back in the game, but they were out on their feet and the last 10 minutes was one way traffic.
3) Dave Taylor flatters to deceive
Rumour was Taylor was marked ‘do not select’ awhile ago, but his reprieve through injury wouldn’t have changed anyone’s mind. Two handling errors in two minutes could have been crucial, and Greg Bird made sure he was aware.
With Chris McQueen due back next year and Josh McGuire already on the cusp, Taylor may not be seen in Maroon in the future.
4) Blues bench lacked impact
Boyd Cordner looked threatening on attack but James Tamou, Trent Merrin and Luke Lewis offered little. While Game 3 was a dead rubber, the Blues bench did little to enhance their reputations and demand retention for next year.
It will be interesting who is selected for Game 1 in 2015. The likes of Josh Jackson and Tariq Sims may be in the selectors mind going forward.
5) Johnathan Thurston was angry kicking conversions
With Thurston having missed two conversions in Game 1, his exhibition in Game 3 looked like he was frustrated with those misses. The hunger is still there and Thurston is going nowhere.
6) The Blues have shown they can defend, the attack needs work
New South Wales showed throughout the series they can defend their line for long periods, and keep the Maroons at bay. The big area that the Blues will be looking to improve next year will be the attack. Four tries in three games was enough to win this series, but the attack looked stifled for large parts.
7) Corey Parker offloads for fun
Parker was unstoppable in Game 3. He hasn’t got the profile of a Sonny Bill Williams, but his offloads are possibly on an even higher level. He may be 32 now, but he is in the form of his life and doesn’t look like retiring anytime soon.
8) Josh Dugan has matured
Dugan was called in for Game 2 under considerable uncertainty. He now looks set to have a mortgage on the right centre position for a long time. Raiders fans will be wondering why players never mature in the capital, but the Dragons and Blues look set to benefit from Dugan’s consistency and maturity.
9) Josh Reynolds needs to play some football
While Reynolds succeeded in getting under the Maroons skin, he did very little with the ball. His defence was a mixture of dangerous and missed tackles, leading the way with a game-high eight missed.
Loyalty will count for something when the team is selected next year, but Reynolds will want to show he offers something more than nuisance value to the Blues.
10) Game 1 in 2015 will be awesome
Queensland will be wanting the shield back, New South Wales won’t want to give it up. Queensland in the last years seemed to be defending the shield when they played instead of trying to win it. They thrive in the underdog role, and next year is tailor-made for a massive series.
State of Origin is finished for another year. The Shield is back in Sydney for the first time since Bob Carr was premier and they will want to create their own dynasty. Origin gets criticised for impacting on the regular NRL too much, but the popularly and success means it is the big show in town.