NSW’s halves conundrum: When the best isn’t good enough

Dr Chop Roar Guru

By Dr Chop, Dr Chop is a Roar Guru

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21 Have your say

    Yet another Origin series has ended grimly in defeat for NSW, and yet another case of Mitchell Pearce being hung out to dry. Yet, for a change, I’m not so sure that I’m in the Pearce-hating camp.

    Pearce is a very good player. He’s in great form for the Roosters, he’s a premiership-winning halfback and he’s an experienced (albeit unsuccessful) representative player.

    I’d be over the moon if my team signed him. But that’s NRL football. Origin, as we’ve all heard many times, is a totally different beast – a beast that Pearce has never been able to tame.

    Pearce is simply not in the class of Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk. He’s the next level down, along with the likes of James Maloney.

    But the fact is that Thurston and Cronk are so far ahead of Pearce that they make him look completely incompetent.

    By Pearce’s age, Thurston had played the same amount of Origins, losing one series and winning the rest. By Pearce’s age, Cronk had played in five grand finals, winning three (two with salary cap rorting, one without). Cronk also would likely have had a similar Origin record to Thurston had it not been for one Darren Lockyer.

    Pearce is simply not as good as either of them, nor will he ever be.

    But if Pearce is so clearly not up to the job, why does he keep getting picked?

    The answer is quite simple: he’s the best we’ve got. He and Maloney have by far been NSW’s best halves this year.

    Adam Reynolds hasn’t really played consistently well since 2013-2014, with injuries seeing him struggling to find his groove. Nathan Cleary is a great prospect, but he’s also 19. Give him time to mature and he’ll be a fine player. Throw him to the wolves at 19 and… see Mitchell Pearce.

    This time next year, we could be talking about Mitchell Moses in a very different way if the Eels keep travelling as they are. But for this year’s series, way too soon.

    I feel sorry for Pearce. Sure, he was thrust into Origin way too early and was probably undeserving of his spot for his first few years, but since 2013 he’s been the best we’ve had, which makes this situation difficult, because he’s obviously not up to the task.

    So where to now for the Blues? Jimmy Maloney’s had a good series. He’ll be there next year, but he’s 31. We can’t rely on him forever.

    It looks like Matt Moylan is now Penrith’s long-term five eighth. Perhaps he and Maloney could reprise their partnership from Game 3 2016 next year.

    But with all things being equal, unfortunately I can’t see anyone other than Pearce and Maloney being NSW’s two best halves this time next year.

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    The Crowd Says (21)

    • July 14th 2017 @ 10:00am
      morley101 said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

      It didn’t matter who was in the halves for NSW on Wednesday night the way the whole team performed NSW
      woruld have lost.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 10:52am
        zim said | July 14th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Pretty much. Lost the ruck. Had lazy markers, dropped too much ball and all that lead to bad defensive reads.
        When our halves finally got some chances they were in bad field position or fatigued.
        I’d be looking at Woods and Ferguson before Pearce.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 11:54am
      GD66 said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:54am | ! Report

      Mitchell’s had a fair whipping, but he’s also been over-adulated by the press. I’m no expert, but to me he runs bloody well and is very strong. But he also has a one-dimensional kicking game and for me there’s a question mark over his defence, you see him clutching at air nearly every match.
      If Maloney’s there next year as you suggest, why not Townsend ? He’s done nothing wrong, and the Storm players have already demonstrated the value of cohesion between club squad players familiar with each others’ moves, so a group of Sharks might be of similar use.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 11:59am
      south coast bandit said | July 14th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

      surely Cleary/Moylan is the future for NSW. Get them in there for 2018 I say.

      also, a left side of D.Walker and Turbo should be picked.

      1. teddy
      2. turbo
      3. walker
      4. j.bird
      5. dugan (needs to be on wing because he cant pass)
      6. moylan
      7. Cleary
      8. Klemmer
      9. peats
      10. woods
      11. jackson/frizell
      12. cordner
      13. Jurbo

      14. T.peachey
      15. vaughan
      16. fifita
      17. graham/frizell

      • July 14th 2017 @ 12:26pm
        no one in particular said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        Seen Penriths attack, especially inside the oppositions 20? Lets pick them when they do something for more then a half of football rather then what they promise to doo

      • Roar Guru

        July 14th 2017 @ 2:43pm
        Nat said | July 14th 2017 @ 2:43pm | ! Report

        Woods! really? Vaughan to prop, Frizell and Debellin on the bench. Although, IMO, still a little early for Cleary so Maloney as he team guide and let Moylan create. Graham needs to mature in clubland next yr. He was the game changer in Qlds favour twice.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 12:15pm
      The Spectator said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

      NSW prob is picking there spine, selecting genuine halves is killings us, they crab too much away from there strengths and play into Q’s. We need a big line Running 5/8 to run first pass 2nd, having 2 halves who pass first run 2nd will see the ball move away from the middle third. I’ve ranted about this for the past how many yrs now, game one was won because it was played in the middle third, hint hints ffs!

    • July 14th 2017 @ 12:56pm
      bear54 said | July 14th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

      Adam Reynolds is 10 times more creative than Mitchell Pearce and deserves an opportunity next year. Pearce does not produce anything to put the Queenslanders under pressure other than a bomb from halfway, then a bomb from the 40, then a bomb from the 22 and when he tries anything else he bombs it. He’s had enough chances to prove his worth and all he’s done is prove he’s not an origin player. He does not deserve to try again next year and I don’t care how good his club for is for the Roosters.

      While I’m here, NSW can stop picking players out of position. Ferguson plays wing like a centre and is constantly making errors in defense. Pick a specialist winger like Mansour (yes, he was injured this year), Tommy T or Alex Johnstone. We need speed on the wings to chase kicks and bring the ball out of defense. If they defend on the wing for 26 games a season they don’t have to think about their defensive decisions they just do it on instinct. I’d also offer the same regarding our centres and tell Dugan & Hayne to play the position for their clubs or forget about Origin selection. Yes, they are useful in attack but defense wins Origin and I put this above all else. Besides, it’s the halves who create the attack and the centres & wingers should be feeding of them.

      The forwards are fine. Fifita and Woods had a poor game because the Maroons developed & practiced defensive plans to neutralise them. I blame our coaches who should have expected this and devised a game plan for dummy-half attacks or decoys to exploit the Queenslanders increased attention for the big boppers.

      It all starts with the halves and the NSW selectors should be telling every eligible 6 and 7 to show off their bag of tricks for the rest of this season and early next year if they want to be selected.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        MonkeyMayes said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        Adam Reynolds simply doesn’t run the ball or take the line on. His one move is to crab sideways and pass it to a forward standing still. He is a good goal kicker though.

      • July 14th 2017 @ 3:03pm
        Agent11 said | July 14th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        Fifita is a flat track bully with mental problems and Woods just lacks mongrel imo. Smith also carved them both to pieces in the ruck.

        I still believe if NSW pick the right forwards and bench and play to their strengths, not relying so much on the halves to create chances then NSW can dominate. Pearce and Maloney didn’t do much at all in game 1 and didn’t need to.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 14th 2017 @ 5:23pm
        steveng said | July 14th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

        Why Alex Johnstone wasn’t picked for game 3 is beyond me?? The bloke is a try scoring machine and that is saying something when he’s playing for Souths. A. Reynolds is too hot and cold, prone to injury, but an exceptional kicker (when hes on) and would be a great asset if could harden up and show some consistent form.

    • July 14th 2017 @ 1:35pm
      Bfc said | July 14th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

      No disgrace for Pearce to be rated below players like Lockyer, Thurston or Cronk…most league halves are!
      As some have noted (and Pearce himself…) perhaps he debuted a bit too soon, but the damage is being done by the press/media hype and the subsequent backlash akin to a “lover spurned”.eg the TV pundits would talk him up ad nauseum, and then NSW didn’t win Pearce copped the flak.
      He may never be the best halfback in the game, but few teams can win if the forwards are not doing their work well enough.

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