When Mal Meninga named his first Test squad a few weeks ago, he unsurprisingly named a group of players he coached during his ten-year tenure. Only five of the players were New South Welshmen.
Among them were the centre-wing pairing of Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson. The success of these two playing next to each other has led to most experts to keep this combination for the State of Origin series.
There are some important facts to note here.
First is the fact that for several years now Josh Morris and Michael Jennings have been the NSW centres. They have also been close to the best performed and most consistent Blues players over that time.
The other important thing to note is Josh Dugan was selected at fullback last year for the Blues and went on to win the Brad Fittler Medal for NSW player of the series.
Given the past results for the Blues with Morris and Jennings in the centres and Dugan at fullback, why would the selectors want to change what works. Was this Meninga’s plan all along when he selected Dugan inside Ferguson?
Did he plan to force NSW into an unnecessary change. Was he trying to give Queensland an advantage?
He already picked three-quarters of the Queensland team in the Australian team. While it would be unprofessional to put state interests ahead of his main job as national coach, the effect of picking so many Queenslanders is a clear advantage for the Maroons.
Only Mal knows for sure, but if Queensland win the Origin series he’ll be one happy coach.
The State of Origin series kicks off on Wednesday, June 1 at ANZ Stadium in Sydney.