The past few decades have seen the emergence of superstars like Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, who could go down as Immortals. But where does James Maloney fit in?
The State of Origin concept is a very simple yet successful formula. However, for many years, each time the series approaches many people have doubted whether it can continue to be so successful.
The skepticism that many people have going in to each series is often based around whether Origin can still maintain the huge interest it has traditionally held in our more sanitised era of league.
In other words – without the ‘biff’.
Year after year State of Origin has stepped up and silenced any doubts some people have aired about whether the series can still flourish. Those critics failed to acknowledge what made the Origin format great in the first place and the x-Factor that it continues to have over other professional competitions.
Simplicity, loyalty and hatred between players and fans, not to mention that it always exhibits the best taking on the best.
Too often in professional sport these days we see players rested or rotated, jumping from team to another or playing within complicated, convoluted competitions that fans struggle to keep up with.
Origin doesn’t really need to be pumped up or tinkered with. It’s a success because it’s built on a unique formula that many sports would love to be able to replicate.
Some people justifiably had concerns in recent years about whether Queensland’s dominance over the last decade could impact on the future of the series. Yet even as Queensland secured their record-setting eighth series in a row in 2013 the win by NSW in Game 1 had already given them enough of a taste of victory to want to come back even harder the following year.
Next year NSW will host two matches. It will be testing times for Laurie Daley to mentally pull his troops back from their 52-6 thrashing at Suncorp Stadium last week. They had been making steady progress – helped especially by more consistency in their selections in recent years.
Going in to Game 3 it was probably underestimated how significant the loss of Robbie Farah to injury might be. Queensland have shown how valuable combinations can be and when you combine Cooper Cronk’s return in a pivotal position with Farah’s omission from the NSW spine, their fitness was always going to be a significant factor.
Unfortunately for NSW, Queensland’s squad is likely to remain settled for a few more years. An injury crisis would be handy to balance things out but it’s unlikely. What has made Johnathan Thurston, Cronk, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith so successful in their own careers is their resilience.
NSW supporters will keep a watchful eye on the movements of Jarryd Hayne over the next few years. There is no doubt that NSW missed his individual brilliance and experience in 2015 and if he returned in the next few years it would not only increase their chances of victory but would also be a huge ratings boost for the competition.
Origin doesn’t need Hayne though. It will continue to be successful, popular and a huge money-spinner for rugby league just the way it is – with or without the biff.