First he defended the shield, then he claimed back-to-back medals.
First off, what a win for New South Wales. For so many years, as a Queensland fan, I thought they had the players for State of Origin but just weren’t selecting them correctly.
On Wednesday night, Laurie Daley and his selection panel got it right, and it showed.
Young, energetic, fast and fearless, the Blues played with so much hunger and passion. Some of the defensive efforts, to deny at least three tries, were just outstanding.
State of Origin Game 1 coverage
» Match report and final score: Blues destroy Maroons at Suncorp Stadium
» Five talking points from the Blues’ Game 1 victory
» WATCH: All the Origin 1 highlights
» WATCH: The wheels fall off for Queensland in costly, comical error
» WATCH: Jarryd Hayne and Cooper Cronk trade moments of brilliance
» WATCH: Mitchell Pearce knocked out in sickening collision
On to Queensland now, however. What annoyed the most was just how bad the selectors got it wrong. Kevin Walters may be out of his depth in Origin coaching, and boy didn’t it show.
Not only did he pick players in wrong positions, he picked players out of form, as well as a player who doesn’t even start for his club.
Nate Myles should never have been selected. Justin O’Neill should never have been selected.
Will Chambers is the best right centre in the competition, but Walters picked him to play on the left where he couldn’t fend with his famous left fend. Dane Gagai is a noted left centre, when not playing fullback for Newcastle. Why not play him in left centre, with Corey Oates (as a left sided winger)?
You may think that Will Chambers would then be placed on the right without a wing. Enter Billy Slater. He is, and will be until he retires, Queensland’s best option for fullback.
Sorry Darius Boyd, but it’s the truth. Boyd has played the majority of his career on the left outside Greg Inglis, but he is professional enough to make the transition onto the right to accommodate the outside of Chambers.
The forward pack were easily outmuscled and out-skilled by a talented, young NSW forward pack. There must be massive changes there also, starting with Myles. He has to go.
Josh McGuire needs to stop fooling around and quit thinking he is a lock. He is a prop, playing with the No.13 on his back. He needs to move up front, where he belongs.
It seemed the selection panel were top scared to take risks with this team. The good old loyalty card is their safekeep and it totally screwed them over. Throw it out the window, it’s time to blood the new generation.
For the bench, there should be a massive overhaul.
Jarrod Wallace and Coen Hess must be selected. They’re both tough, physical forwards and are made for this game. Queensland have to follow NSW’s example with Jake Trbojevic. They realised he was Origin bound, so they threw him into the frame. He came out and played his guts off.
Now is not the time for Walters to play it safe. He must pick the best team possible, and pick them in their correction positions. You never know, the team may just put up a better challenge then was on display on Wednesday night.
The return of Thurston will be a massive boost and Billy Slater will likely return too, providing a chance for Queensland to put in a much more impressive Game 2.
Walters and his selection panel need to pick this following team in order to put up a fight. Select this side, and Queensland stand a chance to level the series.
1. Billy Slater
2. Corey Oates (left)
3. William Chambers (right)
4. Dane Gagai (left)
5. Darius Boyd (right)
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Dylan Napa
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Josh McGuire
11. Josh Papali’i
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Matt Gillett
14. Michael Morgan
15. Jarrod Wallace
16. Coen Hess
17. Aidan Guerra
The back line, as explained, need to be on their favoured sides. Let Cooper Cronk control the right side (with Chambers there), so he can aim his direct cut-out passes to the player he combines with weekly for the Melbourne Storm.
Let Thurston control the left and use Corey Oates’ height for aerial challenges. Papali’i has caused havoc all year on the left for Canberra, have him run off Thurston with support players like Dane Gagai on the outside.
Although he wasn’t a stand out, Dylan Napa is made for Origin. Keep him there, he will be better for it. To retain some experience, move McGuire to prop, and have our best possible backrow on, all on their respective sides – Papali’i (left), Thaiday (right), and Gillett (roaming).
Leave the rookies on the bench, so they can bring in a youthful spark and energy. Aidan Guerra was our strongest forward off the bench and deserves his spot, for sure.
I would love to see Hess come on when NSW are tired, with his damaging runs and off-loading ability – quite Andrew Fifita-like. Wallace is a player who loves the trenches and doing the dirty work, and he would provide some greats minutes off the bench.
Pick this side, Walters, and we will have a strong chance for Game 2. Let’s not panic, but let’s pick our best team and put on a better performance in Sydney.
Come on Queensland, the fight back is on!