Why Hurrell’s brain snap holds promise for Maroons

Robert Burgin Columnist

By Robert Burgin, Robert Burgin is a Roar Expert

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    It was a game between two depleted teams occupying the NRL cellar. What insight could last night’s Rabbitohs-Titans clash possibly offer us about Wednesday’s forthcoming Origin game?

    At first glance not much, but if you froze the game just before halftime, when Konrad Hurrell’s brain departed the station for Crazy Town, there was a sliver of something the Maroons can work with.

    Ah Hurrell, such an entertainer for the fans. Such a nightmare for his coaches.

    For those that missed it, after being in a confident, comfortable rhythm at 14-0 up only minutes beforehand, the Titans slipped back to a slender 14-10 lead after two quickly conceded tries.

    The second of those incursions came about because of a one-man implosion attributable to the Hurrell-cane.

    Coming off his line, the Titans centre tried a hurried, messy play-the-ball that ended in a handover of possession.

    Unable to accept the referee’s decision and likely enraged by the precarious position he placed his side in, he then gesticulated, verbalised and shook with anger.

    It earned him another 10m penalty for dissent, and when the Rabbitohs chanced their arm, they knew exactly who to run at, suckering Konrad in for the big collision, then sending the ball wide for Alex Johnstone to score.

    Still not content, Hurrell remonstrated further with the referee as Adam Reynold’s took his position for the conversion attempt, needing to be restrained by both teammates and Rabbitohs hooker Robbie Farah.

    Surely at that point if Titans coach Neil Henry had any options, he would have hooked the Kiwi talent – not simply because he was a liability on his own, but because his reactive temperament changed the whole mindset of the Gold Coast.

    From being assured and positive, even after conceding a previous try, the inexperienced Titans became unsettled and distracted at the doing of a supposedly senior player.

    That flowed through to the second half, where the Rabbitohs kept the upper hand and discovered a focus missing for most of 2017. The Titans never fully got things back on track.

    Even before his minute of madness, Hurrell was showing signs of vulnerability, looking fatigued far too early, but disguising that with his trademark bustling runs.

    Later in the game he was trailing teammates on kick-chases and made a similar play-the-ball stumble which surrendered possession again.

    So what relevance does this have to Wednesday’s Origin rematch?

    Queensland’s best hope – maybe only hope – of stopping the fearsome Blues machine is to frustrate them, fatigue them and put them off their game.

    Gold Coast Titans player Konrad Hurrell at training


    If you look through the Blues side, it’s a squad packed with speed, size and dynamic footy smarts.

    But it’s also a line-up with a few trigger points which need to be tested.

    Keeping Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Jack Bird, Nathan Peats and Wade Graham on an even keel is a monumental task for coach Laurie Daley. Even James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce are prone to the odd mental combustion.

    Exploiting that will come down to the application of consistent pressure through a multi-pronged approach.

    1. Firstly, it all starts with line speed. Getting up and chopping down the Blues early in their run will not only stymie their advance, but also frustrate those forwards who had it all their own way in Game One.

    2. Twisting and manipulating the attacker until they are uncomfortable and cannot find their elbows and knees.

    3. Good judgment and communication out of marker, not over-playing the role, but being prepared to move quickly, accurately and simultaneously to exert pressure and plug gaps.

    4. Being prepared to win a battle of fatigue. Queensland waved the white flag by kicking for the sidelines when both teams were struggling for breath at the end of the first half in Game 1. That’s when the Blues got the stiff whiff of blood. The Maroons have to keep the Blues forwards constantly in motion.

    5. Great kick chases and pressure on the kicker.

    Jarryd Hayne NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    6. Clever passes and variation which open up channels either side of the ruck and trough the centre. Keep the Blues’ inside men chasing, turning and guessing. Gradually this will present opportunities both in close and out wide.

    7. Accepting responsibility for every outcome and not losing focus. As much as the task is to disrupt the Blues, the Maroons have to guard against distraction and drama themselves.

    Without Matt Scott, Greg Inglis and Corey Parker, and with many of the team running on ageing legs, Queensland cannot afford to bunker down and try and match New South Wales in a power and momentum game across the park.

    If they can successfully put at least one Blues player off their game early – whether it be via a fumble, a show of poor discipline, or an amplified sense of pressure before a home crowd – that vulnerability will spread.

    As Hurrell showed last night, distraction and ill temper can be cancerous, overpowering the focus of teammates rapidly.

    Robert Burgin
    Robert Burgin

    Robert Burgin is a sports writer of 20 years with a particular appetite for Rugby League's exotic and bizarre tales. Find him on Twitter @RobBurginWriter.

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    The Crowd Says (39)

    • June 17th 2017 @ 7:53am
      kk said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      A sensible and simple plan for victory,RB.

      May I add. Using the Konrad Hurrell’s play the ball as a connector for this discussion.

      Instruct all Maroon players to use the now accepted “roll” of the Steeden instead of the
      foot being needed to execute playing the ball. Minimise errors.. save energy.

      When Billy and Johnny are tackled try to lessen the chance of them being driven shoulder
      first into the turf, by defensive dampening of that style of tackle whenever possible.

      Q by 7.

    • June 17th 2017 @ 8:04am
      Jimmy k said | June 17th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      NSW can try that on Qld

      • Columnist

        June 17th 2017 @ 8:15am
        Robert Burgin said | June 17th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        True, but which team has players more susceptible to brain explosions? NSW has the edge in nearly every physical facet, but I maintain the QLD side is the more level-headed.

        • Roar Guru

          June 17th 2017 @ 9:14am
          eagleJack said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

          I get what you are saying. And the Maroons are certainly level headed in the key 6,7 & 9 positions. But I’d have Napa, Chambers and McGuire up there with the most susceptible on the field to bouts of frustration, not keeping their minds on the job and brain explosions.

          What I enjoyed most about Game I was the professionalism of the Blues. When Klemmer was dumped on his head he just got up walked away. In years gone by a scuffle would have ensued as the Blues (with leaders like Bird & Gallen) looked for a fight. They saw that as the only way to put the Maroons off their game.

          When Myles and McGuire went the obvious niggle in the early exchanges of Game I, the Blues resisted. They had a job to do. This is a very different unit to years gone by.

          • Roar Guru

            June 17th 2017 @ 10:00am
            The Barry said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

            Agreed eJ.

            Klemmer’s reputation for one precedes him. He gives away penalties sure, but this season he’s given away very few ‘brain snap’ penalties. He’s maturing as a footballer.

            I haven’t seen as many of Cronullas games but again I think Fifita has calmed down a bit as well. His penalties are more strategic and part of the Sharks overall game plan.

            I think it will be interesting how the game is played on the edges. I don’t think either of NSW centres were strong defensively in game 1 and I can’t remember Boyd playing in the centres before if that’s where he lined up.

            For quite a while we’ve had strong defensive centres in both teams like Chambers, Inglis, Hodges, Morris, Jennings so it’s a bit of a departure in my opinion.

            Set for another intriguing game.

            • Roar Guru

              June 17th 2017 @ 10:26am
              eagleJack said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

              Yeah TB it is certainly intriguing.

              Chambers will give Hayne nightmares in defence. That left edge for the Blues was weak in Game I with Maloney and Hayne both missing tackles, and misreading the attack. They’ll be better for the run though. But Chambers is so dangerous that it is a big worry for NSW.

              Likewise Boyd is likely to struggle defensively on their left edge. He hasn’t played there since 2009 and it was only briefly too (10 games of his 273). Dugan and Ferguson created plenty of chances in Game I but poor execution let them down. Dugan was clearly not match fit but that won’t be the case this time. I imagine there might be times of confusion between Holmes and Boyd as they get to grips with the new combo.

              So it does setup some interesting sub plots, away from the key forward battle.

              • June 17th 2017 @ 12:04pm
                Justin Kearney said | June 17th 2017 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

                Yep this will be a cracking game . Qlds only real chance will be to rattle nsw so i agree with you robert. As a qld supporter i have to say i have little hope though.

    • June 17th 2017 @ 8:14am
      Billy said | June 17th 2017 @ 8:14am | ! Report

      Another cracking crowd of… 7000 for Rugby League. What excuses for the crowd have the League fraternity got this week

      • Roar Guru

        June 17th 2017 @ 9:53am
        The Barry said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        You’re wondering why crowds were poor for a bottom of the table Souths v Titans game. It’s not hard to work out.

        Bad weather, bottom of the table teams, out of town team, Origin players missing, host of other players out, lull period for the comp through origin.

        Will that do? But ultimately who cares?

        • June 17th 2017 @ 10:31am
          Jacko said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          1 of only 4 games this weekend Barry…The crowd was shocking…

          • Roar Guru

            June 17th 2017 @ 12:47pm
            The Barry said | June 17th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            I don’t really get worked up about crowds and it was a shocker but…

            One of only four games is pretty irrelevant. As you know I’m a Dogs supporter and they’re not playing this weekend.

            I wouldn’t go to a Titans v Souths game at ANZ, 8pm kick off on a cold and potentially wet June Friday night, both teams bottom four, no origin players, no Inglis, no Burgess if it was the only game for a month.

            I’d imagine most people would be in the same boat.

            • Roar Guru

              June 17th 2017 @ 1:28pm
              Nat said | June 17th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

              Don’t even entertain them TB. You know what they say about the empty can.

              • June 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm
                Justin Kearney said | June 17th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

                Yep. A thread about origin 2 and somebody tries to derail it rabbiting on about last night’s crowd. Blatant agenda.

              • June 18th 2017 @ 9:35am
                Billy said | June 18th 2017 @ 9:35am | ! Report

                Na seriously this is supposed to be the best Rugby League competition in the world.. being only 3 nations play and care. 7000?? In a 84000 stadium?? A fantastic look

              • June 18th 2017 @ 9:47am
                Justin Kearney said | June 18th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

                Matt stealer couldn’t have put it any better billy boy.

              • June 18th 2017 @ 9:51am
                Billy said | June 18th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

                Justin yesterday you were calling me Nath?? Are you all there?

              • June 18th 2017 @ 9:54am
                Justin Kearney said | June 18th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

                Yep nath and matt. And the mods have been advised. And i am going to keep them advised till they do something about you. Its fun.

              • June 18th 2017 @ 9:59am
                Billy said | June 18th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

                What about John and Nick and Tim? And Mohamed?? You’ve lost it you poor fella

            • June 18th 2017 @ 7:36pm
              Raugeee said | June 18th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

              Maybe they should play it at a suburban ground….

        • Roar Rookie

          June 17th 2017 @ 2:57pm
          steveng said | June 17th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

          Overall the crowds at all NRL games are look bad TB in comparison to where they are played e.g. ANZ or Allianz. Yeah, SOO will get 65k+ at ANZ on Wednesday but this can’t be more apparent and made to look more pathetic than at the ANZ Stadium when only 7k turn up. What a joke!!! Get these games to be played at other smaller stadiums or even ‘out in the bush’ like the up and coming Sharks v Roosters at Gosford, as an example.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 11:58am
        Justin Kearney said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

        ‘Billy’ is matt stealers new id folks.

        • June 18th 2017 @ 11:27am
          Krackpot said | June 18th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

          Who cares? Disagree with whoever you want. It’s not a game to be right mate who ever the name is ….grow up!

    • June 17th 2017 @ 9:04am
      The eye said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      As the senior player in the side basically laden with Burleigh Heads no names and yet to be names,Hurrells performance fully illustrateded his consciousness of the hugeness and leading role he needed to play in last nights do or die for the season game.

      If they were going to win it was going to come off his back.no Titan touched the ball more than him..no Titan ran further than him..no back made more tackles..exlemparary..the blow up cost his team 6 points no argument but understand what touched it off ..

      Really dunno if you can single that out as the principle for the capitulation..they were plain and simply knocked out..that camera shot near the end of empty seats where their bench should have been and with the only other key men with ability to affect the result,Proctor playing at 6,Taylor and HIA and James on one leg was the story of the night and their season..

    • June 17th 2017 @ 9:41am
      Bill said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Surely this must be fake news!!!. Konnie made the statement “I’m going to leave the brain OFF the field and play what’s in front, I mess up when I think too much,” after having a blinder a few weeks ago. If in fact he followed that his own theory, there was nothing to snap

    • June 17th 2017 @ 9:52am
      Busty McCracken said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      If Blues can remain focused and avoid the niggle as they did in game 1, they win. Get baited as they have for oh so many years, we’re stuffed

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