State of Origin 2: The definitive stats preview

Tim Gore Columnist

By Tim Gore, Tim Gore is a Roar Expert

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59 Have your say

    Buckle yourself the hell in, because this game is going to go off.

    For the first time in over a decade the NSW team have the smell of blood in their noses and will be looking to put their big, vicious feet on the throats of the stunned Queenslanders and choke the last life out of the Maroon dynasty.

    There has been massive bloodletting north of the Tweed, with four debutantes coming into a side that is led by four of their best ever players who – now all well into their 30s – you can bet are determined to show the sky blues one last time just who is the best.

    They will be completely focused on taking victory and forcing a decider on their home turf – and on their terms.

    State of Origin 2 coverage
    » Match report: Maroons win to force series decider
    » Five talking points from Queensland’s last-gasp win
    » Check out all the highlights from the thrilling Game 2
    » WATCH: Andrew Johns unleashes a furious rant about the Blues’ woeful second half

    The chances of a blow out in this game are close to nil.

    Let’s look at the stats to see just how close this one is going to be and where it will be won, and lost.

    Where was State of Origin I won?
    That was the biggest ever loss for Queensland on their home turf. Further, their captain had an off night. That has got to have stung bad.

    NSW made 155 more metres than QLD. QLD had to make 40 more tackles than NSW and ended up missing eight more tackles, conceding three more line breaks. QLD had no answer for Andrew Fifita who made 18 runs for 183 metres, 11 tackle breaks, one line break assist and a try.

    Boyd Cordner State of Origin NSW Blues NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Basically QLD were too old and too slow. They were in the arm wrestle until just before half time when their more advanced years and deficit of match fitness told and Mitchell Pearce scored. The Maroons re-joined the arm wrestle after half time but once James Tedesco scored in the 51st minute the jig was up.

    My statistical preview of game one clearly showed this issue. However, I foolishly decided that the leadership of Cam Smith and Cooper Cronk would assuage those issues. They didn’t.

    Queensland have now renewed their squad and they are angry. But is it enough to turn the tables on a rampant and confident NSW side?

    Let’s look at the stats category by category to see which side has the edge.

    Age and minutes in the legs = Equal
    These categories were a clear win for NSW in SOO1 and probably ended up being the most decisive factor. However, the seven changes QLD have made have evened the statistics right up.

    NSW Age Minutes QLD Age Minutes
    James Tedesco 24 75.6 Billy Slater 34 77.5
    Blake Ferguson 27 78.5 Valentine Holmes 21 80
    Josh Dugan 27 75.4 Will Chambers 29 78.4
    Jarryd Hayne 29 70.3 Darius Boyd 29 79.4
    Brett Morris 30 80 Dane Gagai 26 80
    James Maloney 31 80 Johnathan Thurston 34 81.3
    Mitchell Pearce 28 79.9 Cooper Cronk 33 77.9
    Aaron Woods 26 55.2 Dylan Napa 24 45.5
    Nathan Peats 26 77.8 Cameron Smith 34 80
    Andrew Fifita 27 54.3 Tim Glasby 28 41.9
    Josh Jackson 26 76.7 Gavin Cooper 31 80.5
    Boyd Cordner 24 78.8 Matt Gillett 28 74.9
    Tyson Frizell 25 64.8 Josh McGuire 27 63.1
    David Klemmer 23 58.1 Michael Morgan 25 80.8
    Wade Graham 26 76.6 Josh Papalii 25 80.1
    Jake Trbojevic 23 75.2 Coen Hess 20 61.2
    Jack Bird 22 80 Jarrod Wallace 25 60.6
    Total 444 1237.2 Total 473 1223.1(1179 SOO1)
    AVG 26.1 72.8 27.8 72(69.35 SOO1)
    Forwards 25.1 68.6 26.9(29 SOO1) 65.3(60.5 SOO1)
    Backs 27.5 77.5 28.9(26.3 SOO1) 79.4(79.3 SOO1)

    Although each Queensland player is still on average 1.7 years older than his NSW opponent, how that is distributed through the side has changed. The QLD forwards for Game 2 are on average 2.1 years younger than the pack for Game 1.

    The backs, however, are 2.6 years older. Replace Corey Oates with Billy Slater, and Jacob Lillyman with Coen Hess and those averages get effected quickly. However, what was a distinct difference last start has closed right up.

    The age profile has also been impacted by a few birthdays. In the three weeks that have elapsed James Maloney, Tyson Frizell, Will Chambers, Cam Smith and Billy Slater have all had birthdays. Did you know that Slater and Smith were born on exactly the same day? 18 June 1983.

    In regards to metres gained, Queensland revamped side has closed that gap right up too. Although – like Aidan Guerra and Nate Myles – Coen Hess has been chosen from his club side’s bench, his 61.9 minutes a game are big. Only Dylan Napa and Tim Glasby average less than 60 minutes a game. That’s down from four of their roster in Game 1.

    Runs and metres = NSW
    Again, these stats will be vital to who wins and – again – on paper NSW has the edge.

    NSW Runs Metres QLD Runs Metres
    James Tedesco 16.9 172.5 Billy Slater 15.1 124.4
    Blake Ferguson 14.6 134.7 Valentine Holmes 17.2 184.4
    Josh Dugan 16.9 157.2 Will Chambers 13.5 121.2
    Jarryd Hayne 11.1 87.5 Darius Boyd 13.7 114.4
    Brett Morris 11.9 104.3 Dane Gagai 13.1 112.4
    James Maloney 9.8 74.1 Johnathan Thurston 12.4 83.6
    Mitchell Pearce 11 66.7 Cooper Cronk 8.8 61.5
    Aaron Woods 17.1 159.8 Dylan Napa 12.2 105.3
    Nathan Peats 4.5 35.8 Cameron Smith 8.1 52
    Andrew Fifita 17 157.8 Tim Glasby 9.7 87.9
    Josh Jackson 12.3 106.7 Gavin Cooper 9.7 85.8
    Boyd Cordner 16.1 154.2 Matt Gillett 11.1 90.2
    Tyson Frizell 10.5 101.8 Josh McGuire 17.1 154.5
    David Klemmer 16.3 156.5 Michael Morgan 9.8 73.3
    Wade Graham 12.7 113.7 Josh Papalii 15.1 150.8
    Jake Trbojevic 14.1 134 Coen Hess 10.5 101.8
    Jack Bird 13.7 120 Jarrod Wallace 15.2 142.9
    Total 226.5 2037.3 Total 212.3 (201 SOO1) 1846.4 (1803 SOO1)
    AVG 13.3 120 12.5 (11.8 SOO1) 108.6 (106 SOO1)
    Forwards 13.4 124.5 12 (11.9 SOO1) 107.9 (108 SOO1)
    Backs 13.2 114.5 13 (11.7 SOO1) 109.4 (103.8 SOO1)

    Queensland has done some catching up where hit ups are considered but are still 14 worse on average. Further, they average 190.9 fewer metres a game than NSW. Four of the Queensland pack average fewer than 100 metres a game. Only Nathan Peats in the NSW pack averages less than 100 metres a game.

    From these stats Queensland must muscle up in defence to hold the NSW big boppers or – like SOO1 – this could get ugly.

    Tackles and missed tackles = equal

    NSW Tackles Missed Tackles Missed tackle to tackle ratio QLD Tackles Missed Tackles Missed tackle to tackle ratio
    James Tedesco 3.3 1.4 42.40% Billy Slater 5.6 2.3 41%
    Blake Ferguson 4.5 2.1 46.60% Valentine Holmes 2.4 0.6 25%
    Josh Dugan 4 1.2 30% Will Chambers 17.6 2.5 14.20%
    Jarryd Hayne 8.3 1.4 16.90% Darius Boyd 7.7 0.8 10.40%
    Brett Morris 6 0.8 13.30% Dane Gagai 12.9 3 23.20%
    James Maloney 13.4 6.1 45.50% Johnathan Thurston 13.9 4.4 31.60%
    Mitchell Pearce 20.7 2.3 11.10% Cooper Cronk 13.9 1.1 7.90%
    Aaron Woods 25.4 1.3 5.10% Dylan Napa 21.1 3.4 16.10%
    Nathan Peats 41.3 2.2 5.30% Cameron Smith 42.2 2.1 5%
    Andrew Fifita 27.7 1.3 4.70% Tim Glasby 25.1 1.5 6%
    Josh Jackson 33.1 2.1 6.30% Gavin Cooper 31.8 1.9 6%
    Boyd Cordner 31 2 6.40% Matt Gillett 37.9 4 10.50%
    Tyson Frizell 28.2 1.5 5.30% Josh McGuire 35.9 2.2 6%
    David Klemmer 22.3 1.8 8% Michael Morgan 13.2 2.8 21.20%
    Wade Graham 27.5 3.2 11.60% Josh Papalii 24.8 1.3 5.20%
    Jake Trbojevic 36.3 1.1 3% Coen Hess 22.5 1.3 5.80%
    Jack Bird 12.1 3.6 29.75% Jarrod Wallace 34.4 2.1 6.10%
    Total 345.1 35.4 Total 362.9 37.3
    AVG 20.3 2.1 10.30% 21.3 2.2 10.30%
    Forwards 30.3 1.8 5.90% 30.6 2.2 7.20%
    Backs 9 2.4 26.60% 10.9 2.2 20.20%

    The good news for Queensland is they have the extra tackling stamina to cope with NSW extra hit ups. The side averages nearly 18 more tackles a game than NSW. Notably these extra tackles come in the backs though. Further, QLD average two extra missed tackles a game. Their average missed tackles has actually gone up with the mass changes to the side.

    Queensland will be trying to exploit James Maloney’s turnstile defence – Chris Sandow would be amazed at Maloney’s average of 6.1 misses a game. Maloney missed nine tackles in SOO1. As well, Wade Graham has 3.2 and Jack Bird 3.6 misses a game. Further, Josh Dugan may have made some superb try saving tackles in SOO1 but he needed to. He missed eight tackles in the first game. He will be targeted.

    Jarryd Hayne NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    What these stats show is that the QLD attack will be squarely focused on the NSW backline and their missed tackle ratio of 26.6 per cent – and most likely at the side with Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson.

    While Johnathan Thurston’s 4.4 average misses seem like the big target, the NSW players will actually have their sights on three players: Dylan Napa (3.4 misses), Michael Morgan (2.8 misses) and Will Chambers (2.5 misses). Their missed tackle ratios are bad. In SOO1 Napa missed four tackles, Chambers six and Morgan eight.

    Had Milford been fit I’m not convinced the Cowboys’ five-eighth would have been in the QLD team this time around. Further, Matt Gillett misses more than QLD supporters would like. Look for Andrew Fifita to try and catch him one-on-one.

    Attacking and scoring = NSW – just
    Once more we see from the raw stats that the QLD changes have closed the comparative stats right up:

    NSW Tackle breaks Line break assists Line breaks Try Assists Tries QLD Tackle breaks Line break assists Line breaks Try Assists Tries
    James Tedesco 7.9 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.1 Billy Slater 4.7 0.8 0.6 1 0.5
    Blake Ferguson 3.1 0.2 0.8 0.1 0.6 Valentine Holmes 4.4 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.2
    Josh Dugan 6.3 0.2 0.6 0 0.2 Will Chambers 1.4 0.6 0.3 0.3 0.3
    Jarryd Hayne 1.3 0.3 0.5 0.3 0.5 Darius Boyd 3.1 0.7 0.2 0.5 0.1
    Brett Morris 3.4 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.3 Dane Gagai 5.5 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1
    James Maloney 1.4 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 Johnathan Thurston 2.7 0.7 0.3 1 0.3
    Mitchell Pearce 2.3 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.5 Cooper Cronk 1.1 0.6 0.2 0.7 0.4
    Aaron Woods 0.8 0 0 0 0 Dylan Napa 1 0 0 0 0
    Nathan Peats 0.5 0.7 0 0.7 0 Cameron Smith 0.8 0.7 0 0.5 0
    Andrew Fifita 4.3 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 Tim Glasby 0.8 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1
    Josh Jackson 1.2 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 Gavin Cooper 1.4 0.1 0.2 0 0.1
    Boyd Cordner 1.6 0 0.3 0 0.3 Matt Gillett 2.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1
    Tyson Frizell 2.3 0.1 0.1 0 0.1 Josh McGuire 1.3 0 0 0 0
    David Klemmer 1.7 0 0 0 0 Michael Morgan 2.9 0.3 0.5 0.6 0.4
    Wade Graham 2.2 0.3 0.6 0.3 0.3 Josh Papalii 3.3 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.3
    Jake Trbojevic 1.1 0.2 0.3 0 0.3 Coen Hess 3.1 0 0.6 0 0.8
    Jack Bird 4 0.4 0.2 0.3 0.1 Jarrod Wallace 1.4 0 0.1 0 0
    Total 45.4 4.2 5.5 3.3 3.8 Total 41(36 SOO1) 5.5(4 SOO1) 4.4(3.5 SOO1) 5.6(3.7 SOO1) 3.7(3 SOO1)
    AVG 2.7
    Forwards 1.75 1.5 1.7 1.2 1.2 1.9 1.3 1.7 1 1.4
    Backs 3.7 2.7 3.8 2.1 2.6 2.9 4.2 2.7 4.6 2.3

    NSW have a slight advantage in tackle breaks with 4.4 more. They also have an extra line break in them. However, the averages only see them with a 0.1 try advantage over the Maroons. And Johnathan Thurston is no slouch when it comes to getting his players across the try line. Putting him and Billy Slater back into the side has added 1.5 line break assists, a line break, two try assists and three-quarters of a try.

    The QLD attack will have far more teeth in this game than it did in SOO1.

    Miscreants and fumblers = QLD
    Whoever gives away the most penalties and drops the most ball will probably be the loser. However, as the three-all penalty count showed in SOO1, referees swallow the whistle in big matches. Although I thought a number of obvious penalties were incorrectly let go in the name of a quick game, most of the fans loved the refs getting the hell out of the way.

    However, that plays right into the hands of QLD who will be playing Bellamy Ball and trying to slow the ruck speed down as much as possible. If Matt Cecchin swallows the whistle the game might get bogged down.

    How costly was Justin O’Neil’s dropped ball in SOO1? It was one of just ten errors in the game. QLD made two more than NSW and those two extra possessions meant a great deal in the context of the game. The weather in Sydney on Wednesday looks good so the handling should be good.

    NSW Penalties Errorsv QLD Penalties Errors
    James Tedesco 0.5 1.4 Billy Slater 0.3 1.2
    Blake Ferguson 0.3 1 Valentine Holmes 0 1
    Josh Dugan 0.3 0.8 Will Chambers 1.3 0.9
    Jarryd Hayne 0.4 1 Darius Boyd 0.2 0.2
    Brett Morris 0.3 0.9 Dane Gagai 0.3 0.8
    James Maloney 1.8 1.3 Johnathan Thurston 0.7 0.9
    Mitchell Pearce 0.7 0.9 Cooper Cronk 0.5 0.6
    Aaron Woods 0.3 0.3 Dylan Napa 0.2 0.3
    Nathan Peats 1 0.7 Cameron Smith 0.8 0.4
    Andrew Fifita 0.8 1 Tim Glasby 0.4 0.1
    Josh Jackson 0.9 0.7 Gavin Cooper 0.4 0.8
    Boyd Cordner 0.2 0.7 Matt Gillett 0.2 0.8
    Tyson Frizell 0.5 0.2 Josh McGuire 0.5 0.3
    David Klemmer 1 0.6 Michael Morgan 0.5 1.2
    Wade Graham 0.8 0.8 Josh Papalii 0.2 0.3
    Jake Trbojevic 0.8 0.2 Coen Hess 0.6 0.8
    Jack Bird 0.6 1.5 Jarrod Wallace 0.9 0.1
    Total 11.2 14 Total 8 10.7
    Forwards 6.3 5.2 4.2 3.9
    Backs 4.9 8.8 3.8 6.8

    These stats say that, on average, NSW will gift QLD six extra possessions in the game through errors and penalties conceded. As pointed out above, we can expect the refs to go easy on the whistle so that six extra sets will probably look more like three. However, the stats clearly show that NSW could get a bad case of the dropsies. It is very hard to hold the momentum if you don’t have the ball.

    This could be a decisive stat.

    Experience = Queensland

    NSW Origin Games QLD Origin Games
    James Tedesco 2 Billy Slater 28
    Blake Ferguson 5 Valentine Holmes 0
    Josh Dugan 10 Will Chambers 5
    Jarryd Hayne 21 Darius Boyd 27
    Brett Morris 12 Dane Gagai 5
    James Maloney 8 Johnathan Thurston 36
    Mitchell Pearce 16 Cooper Cronk 20
    Aaron Woods 12 Dylan Napa 1
    Nathan Peats 1 Cameron Smith 40
    Andrew Fifita 8 Tim Glasby 0
    Josh Jackson 6 Gavin Cooper 2
    Boyd Cordner 7 Matt Gillett 16
    Tyson Frizell 3 Josh McGuire 6
    David Klemmer 7 Michael Morgan 6
    Wade Graham 3 Josh Papalii 7
    Jake Trbojevic 1 Coen Hess 0
    Jack Bird 3 Jarrod Wallace 0
    Total 125 Total 199
    AVG 7.3 11.7
    Forwards 5.3 8
    Backs 9.6 15.9

    The QLD side has 74 more State of Origin games experience than NSW. However, 75.9 per cent of QLD’s accumulated games are from Slater, Boyd, Cronk, Thurston and Smith. There are also four debutants in the Maroon side. There are none in the NSW team. The QLD three man front row rotation has just one cap between them. The three big boppers for NSW share 27 caps.

    Leadership = Queensland
    This is still a major factor in this game and this series. I thought it would be decisive for QLD in Game 1. It wasn’t. However, reinforcements have arrived. The cool, focused and experienced QLD leadership team of Cam Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Darius Boyd bring composure, control and excellent decision making in their arsenal of skills.

    Boyd Cordner, conversely, must try to keep his boys focused on maintaining Coach Daley’s game plan, keeping the errors down and stopping brain explosions. They must keep it simple, all the while ignoring the barbs that will be sure to come from the QLD camp.

    The Verdict
    The NSW pack is simply better than the QLD pack. They are younger, bigger, stronger and more dangerous. They ripped the QLD pack apart in Game One. However, QLD has rejuvenated their side and, while it does not have the venom of the boys in sky blue, their pack can tackle, wrestle and hold their own.

    If they can do that on Wednesday night then the QLD backline is better. Under the generalship of Thurston and Cronk they will mercilessly, clinically and precisely target the NSW outside backs.

    James Maloney NSW Blues State of Origin NRL Rugby League 2017

    However, if the QLD pack gets badly beaten like last time the series will be all over.

    But I’ve got a feeling we are going to a decider.

    Queensland by eight.

    Some stats of interest
    • Of the eight times that NSW have won Game 1 away from home, they have won six of those series (1985, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2003, 2014) by winning the next game at home. However, in 1983 and 1987 they lost the next two games to lose the series.

    • NSW have only had two clean sweep series wins, but both featured the first and last games being played in Brisbane (1986, 1996)

    • NSW’s 24-point winning margin was the second biggest Game 1 winning margin in State of Origin history. The biggest was QLD’s 30 point victory in Game One 1989. That was Laurie Daley’s debut match for NSW.

    • Every time in Origin history that the winning margin in Game 1 has been twelve points or greater, the victorious side from that match has won the series.

    • This will be the 19th game two held in Sydney. NSW have won 13 of the 18 played to date, including the last three. The last time Queensland won a game two in Sydney was in 2009.

    • The average score for Game 2s held in Sydney is 16-12 to NSW.

    • Game 2s are the lowest-scoring games in the series on average.

    • This is the first time a game two has been held in Sydney since 2014 – when NSW last won a series.

    • Of the 34 series played, the side that has used fewer players during the series has won 22 times. QLD has a big head start this series in regard to players used.

    Tim Gore
    Tim Gore

    Tim has been an NRL statistician for ABC Radio Grandstand since 1999, primarily as part of their Canberra coverage. Tim has loved rugby league since Sterlo was a kid with lots of hair but was cursed with having no personal sporting ability whatsoever. He couldn't take a hit in footy, was a third division soccer player making up numbers, plays off 41 in golf and is possibly the world's worst cricketer ever. He has always been good at arguing the point though and he has a great memory of what happened. Follow Tim on Twitter.

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 8:15am
      Jason Hosken said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      My niggleometer red lined when I passed by Homebush this morning. The new level-headed Fifita and Klemmer will face their biggest test – whatever the result, it is sure to be compulsive viewing.

      Blues by 7.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 8:28am
      The Barry said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      Thanks Tim – great work.

      The really telling stat for mine is that combined one Origin game for the front row rotation. Probably doesn’t make a difference early but later in the game could be telling.

      Has Queensland missed a trick by not rotating some younger forwards in over the past 2-3 years to play with Scott, Thaiday, etc rather than throwing them all in at the deep end together?

      I think Queensland will be attacking the NSW edges. Papalii and Hess off the bench could be key. I’d be trying to isolate Maloney and force Hayne to make a decision in defence – something I think he did poorly in game one.

      There will also be the Cronk / Chambers combo attacking down that side as well. I think it’s NSW’s danger.

      It will be interesting to see how the guile of Boyd and the speed of Holmes combines. They could cause problems for Dugoson on the NSW right. But there’s a definite opportunity on that side of the field with Boyd playing his first rep game and 10th? overall in the centres.

      Intriguing has been over used about this series but there’s no better way to describe it…

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:40am
        Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        Spot on Baz. That front row rotation experience issue stands out like… well, you choose your favoured metaphor…
        However, Wallace is a gun. He’s clearly up for this. Napa is a wild man and Glasby is a Bellamy Ball expert. Doubt them at your peril.
        And Klemmer and Fifita have brains prone to explosion…
        This match WILL be decided in the forwards. If QLD hold their own they’ll win. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter how good their back line is, they’ll lose.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 7:06pm
          Ask said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

          not that I necessarily disagree with these comments Tim, but Qld also have the one half in the comp who can still attack effectively with out the forwards providing front foot ball. Plus with his kicking game forcing drop outs and generally better than any other kicker on either team the forwards don’t have as much energy sapping work to do.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 20th 2017 @ 3:14pm
        Don said | June 20th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        You are right Barry.
        The big QLD play will be a big forward at Maloney a couple of times and then use him as a decoy and play out the back to Slater.

        When Maloney won MOM in game 1 a few series ago QLD took him out of game 2 by doing this. He missed Thaiday on the line, lost confidence and was knackered and went missing.

        Take out Fifita and Woods at the legs and watch the frustration start errors. Fifita is a momentum player. If he is making ground he will put his hand up to take 2 in every 6. When he hasn’t got room and being stopped, he doesn’t go looking for the pill.

        BIG job for Qld forwards. As good as Glasby and Cooper are as low defenders, the issue will be whether MacGuire will go low or do his usual high grab. If they go high on Fifita he will run amok.

        McGuire will look busy and vigorous.
        He just won’t be very effective…

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 8:34am
      djcooper said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      After watching several replays of the first game (and even going back to previous series) what has stood out to me is Cooper Cronk’s retreating defense. Whilst Gillett was off in the first game with a lot of one on one misses, it was Cronk putting pressure on him by not moving up and keeping the line. Chambers coming over to Cronk’s side will certainly sure it up as O’Neil looked like he had never defended in the centres at this level. Fingers crossed they can all get on the same page in this game and work together more effectively.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 8:44am
        Aaron said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        Myles and Smith rushing out of the line and missing also caused huge issues for the right edge (Gillett), as he was forced to try to cover the middle and edge. Smith will have better troops around him to make those tackles this time though.

        But I still don’t see Queensland winning. I really hope Napa and McGuire concentrate on playing footy instead of trying the big hit or niggle. NSW has been doing that nonsense for a decade and it simply doesn’t work. The Blues even keel under Cordner isn’t going to crack easily.

        • Columnist

          June 20th 2017 @ 10:42am
          Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

          Cronk is statistically the best defensive half back in the game. I think he was a victim of circumstance.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 11:31am
            djcooper said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

            No doubt he makes his tackles Tim but the way he retreats puts a lot of pressure on his in and outside men. You might recall the try cordner scored in the last series where cronk was backpedalling close to his line? The try just before halftime in this years first game had Gillett trying to cover Cronk’s man which left a massive gap. Smith rushing up didn’t help but I put it down to a breakdown in communication between Cronk and Gillett. It might sound like I’m doubting the great man but I’m just concerned that the team wernt on the same page in game one and I hope they can fix it up.

            • Columnist

              June 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm
              Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

              I think he was only retreating due to circumstance. I agree retreating was an issue.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:06am
      jameswm said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      No one seems to have thought of this.

      Qld have all their debutants on the bench. This means they’ll all be on together later int he 1st half. Isn’t that a concern? Shouldn’t they have spread them out?

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:41am
        Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

        What they’ve named and what happens aren’t necessarily aligned.
        But good point.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 11:40am
        Magnus M. Østergaard said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Wallace is starting.

    • Columnist

      June 20th 2017 @ 9:31am
      AJ Mithen said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Love it Mr Gore. But there’s one thing I can see this year from game one – I honestly think NSW won’t have the brain explosions everyone is expecting.

      Laurie seems to have this bunch focused and fired but people still think they’ll shoot themselves in the foot through ill discipline. They will drop the ball, they will miss tackles but I don’t think they’ll lose the plot.

      • Columnist

        June 20th 2017 @ 10:43am
        Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        You could be right AJ. But you know JT, Billy and Darius will be attacking Klemmer, Bird, Graham and Fifita mentally from the get go.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am
          rl said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Tim, you gave me (as a Qlder) false hope in SOO1 with your stats on discipline. But to Laurie’s credit, the cheap points/easy metres from penalties didn’t eventuate.

          I agree with AJ, if NSW keep their heads, I reckon they are home.

          • Columnist

            June 20th 2017 @ 2:45pm
            Tim Gore said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

            I got it wrong last time…
            I ignored the stats and went with my gut…
            The stats say 50/50 this time. My gut says bet on JT.

    • Roar Pro

      June 20th 2017 @ 10:35am
      MrJSquishy said | June 20th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

      As a Queenslander, I’m actually really excited for the next few years of Origin. I personally think that Peter Sterling’s influence over selections has been a blessing for Origin full-stop, and cannot be overlooked. Whether QLD can take it to a decider, I’m absolutely 50:50. One part of me says I want QLD to bring it home 2:1, at home, but, I also want NSW to win another series to get the passion and hatred back in the game (which I think has been sorely lacking while QLD dominated for so many years). I don’t believe there will ever be another dynasty like QLD has had for the last decade, but, I long for the days of NSW and QLD going series for series. I think this is the start of that time again!

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 1:07pm
        The Barry said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        Interested to know your thoughts on where Sterling’s influence has been evident…

        Tedesco debuted last year and was a laydown misère for Origin this year
        Morris has played plenty of games
        Dugan and Ferguson have been Origin regulars for the past couple of seasons and have played several tests together
        Hayne is a rep regular, albeit in his first full season back
        Maloney demanded selection after his performance last year
        Pearce has been picked time and again for 7 years
        Woods and Fifita are origin regulars
        Sterlo can lay some claim to selecting Peats
        Jackson, Cordner, Frizell and Graham close to automatic selections, maybe Sterlo gets credit for the combination
        Klemmer has been a regular selection for three years
        Bird needed to be selected somewhere after last years performance – again maybe Sterlo gets credit for putting him in the bench utility role
        Jurbo selected after playing for Australia

        I don’t know how much credit Sterlo can take for too many of these selections. Most have been in and around the team for several years.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm
          Jason Hosken said | June 20th 2017 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          The Peats selection is significant, or more the Farah omission. Early in the season I’m pretty sure Daley was quoted as saying Farah would be there for game-1. Sterling may have talked him out of it.

          And with that I reckon Sterling brought the attacking brand we saw in game-1.

          • June 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm
            Griffo said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

            I’d sensed Sterling’s frustration with Farah in commentary over the last few years too.

        • Roar Pro

          June 20th 2017 @ 4:03pm
          MrJSquishy said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

          It’s the little differences that I think Sterlo is responsible for: no more Farah, Fifita starting (he hadn’t started an Origin in all of his last 8 appearances – which were still in dribs and drabs over four series). Also, no more Jennings (who was there in Game 3 last year). And of course, no more Tamou (though he may unselected himself, but, history would suggest that NSW could have picked him again).

          For many years, NSW have picked nearly the right team. I think Sterlo’s influence has been that 5% that makes them pick THE right team. Just my opinion. Do you think if Farah, Jennings and/or Tamou were there in game 1 they still would have won?

          • June 20th 2017 @ 4:58pm
            The Spectator said | June 20th 2017 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

            Finally NSW played the middle third and won easily, Sterlo could be responsible,

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 5:19pm
            The Barry said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

            Fair comments MrJ – thanks for replying.

            Fifita starting is the big one for mine. It’s about time.

            You’re absolutely correct about Farah. Picking Hayne over Jennings was also a good selection.

            Tamou was at any old odds to be selected regardless of who was picking the team.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 8:09pm
            eagleJack said | June 20th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

            I think Sterlo’s influence can be seen in how much the series means to him. It was his birthday last Friday. He said he wants to get his present on Wednesday night. He’s clearly had a big say at the selection table. And possibly tactics too.

            I watched him embrace the players on the bench before the full-time siren in Game I. Especially Mitchell Pearce, huge bear hug. It appears this team might be his baby. He’s very proud.

            I hope it all pays off for him.

            • Roar Guru

              June 21st 2017 @ 7:56am
              The Barry said | June 21st 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

              Valid comments and mine was a genuine query. And the response was a good one, there are a number of changes this year that have made differences.

              But there’s also an element of right place, right time.

              I’m not ready to put the NSW resurgence (IF that’s what it turns out to be) at Sterlos feet.

              I wonder what the response will be if NSW lose and say Ferguson and Dugan get found out or Peats misses a vital tackle or Pearce goes missing. Would it be fair to blame Sterlo for picking them? Definitely not but likewise it’s probably not fair to wrap him too much if NSW win.

              He’s part of the broader team.

              • Roar Pro

                June 22nd 2017 @ 3:43pm
                MrJSquishy said | June 22nd 2017 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                Now that the smoke has settled on Game 2, how did Sterlo go? I think you nailed one prediction: Pearce went missing in that second half. And although Hayne was a better choice than Jennings, he didn’t have a great game. I wonder if Dylan Walker is a chance to take Hayne’s spot? Will NSW be willing to change anyone for Game 3 (the mind games begin again). Walker showed Hayne up terribly when Manly played the Titans a few weeks back. However, I still think this NSW is as close to being “right” than it has been in quite a few years. They (NSW) just had a very poor 40 minutes after the half-time break…

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