Will the Maroons attack or defend after a Cam Smith void?

ScottWoodward.me Roar Guru

By ScottWoodward.me, ScottWoodward.me is a Roar Guru

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37 Have your say

    Kevin Walters will likely define his prospects as a future NRL coach based on how he handles the ‘backs to the wall’ dilemma his Maroon captain Cam Smith has put him in after retiring from rep footy this week.

    Smith pointed out during his presser that it was a “weight off his shoulders” that he had played his last rep footy. Sitting next to the captain, however, his Maroon coach added that the weight had been transferred to him.

    He was correct, but this also presents a wonderful opportunity to re-engineer a Maroon team for the future.

    There is no shortage of extreme Queensland spine talent who have been jogging on the spot for years waiting for Thurston, Cronk and now Smith to retire.

    Cam Munster has claimed Thurston’s prized number six jersey, and it seemed that Ben Hunt was pencilled in for Cooper Cronks number seven shirt. But with skipper Smith now gone, a re-think is in order.

    Most pundits have Bronco workhorse Andrew McCullough as the new Maroon hooker despite his recent injury and his six missed tackles last week.

    NSW selectors Greg Alexander, Danny Buderus and coach Brad Fittler would not lose any sleep if McCullough is Smith’s replacement.

    I don’t believe the Maroons can defeat the Blues in this year’s Origin with McCullough as hooker. He is a similar type to the Blues 2017 hooker, Nathan Peats, who will make 50-plus tackles and not scare anyone with the ball in hand.

    Cam Smith was part of a Maroon team that had 11 series wins based on an exciting attacking philosophy. To go ‘negative’ would be counterproductive.

    They need to ensure that they can score 22 points and select a spine that will keep the Blues hierarchy up at night.

    National coach Mal Meninga has suggested a traditional hooker be selected, but with respect to the great man – he should stay out of the debate.

    An Andrew McCullough-type would be fine as a Kangaroo against England or New Zealand, but the Maroons need a greater skillset from their number nine as the opposition is superior.

    With McCullough clearly not a 100 per cent fit at the moment, and the Roosters tackling machine Jake Friend playing with the cracked sternum – an opportunity exists to enhance the Maroon spine with some brilliant alternatives.

    Ben Hunt is the in-form NRL halfback, but also an accomplished hooker. If he was named as the Maroon hooker, the gate would open for the exciting young halfback Ash Taylor to debut.

    Cam Smith’s high defence rate is easily copied by a McCullough or Friend, but the greatest void is his game management.

    No player is better at executing last tackle options than the Titans’ Taylor. His try assist success rate off his sublime tactical short kicking is as good as we have seen in the modern era.

    He should be part of Queensland’s future. Combined with Hunt, they would cause the Blues a nightmare.

    Michael Morgan would remain on the bench and be able to step into the breach at any time to replace either Taylor or Hunt.

    Daly Cherry-Evans would walk into the NSW team and is another brilliant alternative who could play seven, nine or 14.

    Taylor and Cherry-Evans are also goal kickers, another affliction on coach Walter’s shoulders.

    Kevie’s dilemmas:

    New captain – Billy Slater
    New hooker – Ben Hunt
    New halfback – Ash Taylor

    Easy!

    The New South Wales State of Origin team for the 2018 series remains a mystery, with new coach Brad Fittler facing plenty of selection headaches. So we want you to tell us - and all your mates - who should start for Blues in Game 1 with our team picker.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • May 17th 2018 @ 2:50am
      Chris Love said | May 17th 2018 @ 2:50am | ! Report

      I actually don’t mind Hunt as the hooker at all. Brisbane came alive last year when Hunt moved to hooker. I think I’d have Cherry-Evans at the 7 ahead of Taylor. His game management would be a good foil for Munster to run the ball more and there isn’t a weakness to his game at all.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 7:46am
        ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

        UPDATE:
        Kevie’s dilemmas:

        New captain – Greg Inglis
        New hooker – Ben Hunt
        New halfback – Corey Norman

        Easy!

        • Roar Guru

          May 17th 2018 @ 9:06am
          ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

          UPDATE 2
          New halfback – Michael Morgan

          Apologies for the early typos.

    • May 17th 2018 @ 5:26am
      tim said | May 17th 2018 @ 5:26am | ! Report

      You are grossly understating McCullough’s skills in attack.

      • May 17th 2018 @ 7:18am
        i miss the force said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:18am | ! Report

        i think with his injury he is restrained

        • Roar Guru

          May 17th 2018 @ 7:41am
          ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:41am | ! Report

          Force
          You are correct, but he still also lacks skills required at this level.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 7:35am
        ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

        Chris,
        Lock him in.Tim,

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 7:52am
        ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        tim
        Incorrect mate, I am a big fan. Hunt is simply a better option for a match like this. He will get help if required from Morgan.

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2018 @ 7:24am
      Emcie said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:24am | ! Report

      I’m wouldn’t go around calling Hunt an “accomplished hooker”, Brisbane looked good when it worked but there were a number of games where it completely failed and it didn’t really work in the finals at all. Did he play the full 80 there? Wasn’t Thiaday soaking up most of the defensive punishment for the first 20 minutes as well? Not having a go at Hunt here but he was only there cos Brisbane didn’t really have any other option

    • May 17th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Dan said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      Kevy Walters was an attacking player. When he was an assistant coach his always been an attacking coach. I expect QLD will attack in any case Munster only knows one way.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 11:07am
        ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

        Dan,
        They simply cannot win unless they think 22 points. One thing we know for certain is that the Blues will have a heap of points in them with players like Mitchell, Addo-Carr and Tom T added.

        • May 17th 2018 @ 11:42am
          RandyM said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:42am | ! Report

          Even without JT, Smith and Cronk the Queenslanders spine is still superior to whatever NSW can come up with. Doesn’t matter if NSW have Mitchell, Ado carr etc, does the NSW spine have the creativity to get the best out of them?

    • Roar Guru

      May 17th 2018 @ 7:50am
      ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Emcie
      Hunt has played 9 for Australia mate.
      Also at the Broncos they did have alternatives in Kodi Nikorima and Waddell.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 8:27am
        Emcie said | May 17th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Off the bench against Lebanon, dunno if that makes him an 80min Origin hooker.

        Nikorima wasn’t an option at hooker, he’s even said so himself and Waddell was never a serious option

        • Roar Guru

          May 17th 2018 @ 9:10am
          ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

          Emcie
          Anthony Griffin played Hunt at 9 when he coached him at the Broncos, then Bennett then Meninga. That’s not a bad reference.
          I expect he will be given a break. If They play Morgan and 7 and have Milford on the bench as expected they can all do the 9 and 7 job and would be very difficult for Fittler to address.

    • May 17th 2018 @ 9:16am
      Paul said | May 17th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Scott, Qld are a super conservative bunch and are more likely to choose a side that won’t lose the SOO series, as opposed to selecting a side that will win it. They’re not going to choose strong attacking options such as Taylor, Hunt at 9, etc, but will rely in their defence and set plays to win.

      I still reckon they have an issue at 6. Munster has played 1 SOO game with Cronk, Smith and Slater last year. He now has to play with ? at number 7, ? at number 9 and Slater. If I’m Freddy, I’m looking to target him as I reckon he’ll go into his shell.

      • Roar Guru

        May 17th 2018 @ 11:11am
        ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Paul,
        Trust me when I suggest that Munster is not capable of going into a shell. He is a real footy player and loves big games as his record suggests. He will be 6 for many years to come.
        Taylor has the most god given talent, and I expect him to be the 7 next year, but for now the more experienced Morgan will be the 7.

        • May 17th 2018 @ 1:27pm
          Paul said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

          Scott, Munster is untried without guys he’s played with in Melbourne ie Slater, Cronk and Smith. If he’s pressured, he’s no different than anyone else and could go MIA without most of these guys around him.

          We’ll know one way or another in a few weeks.

          • Roar Rookie

            May 17th 2018 @ 1:39pm
            Joe said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            I wasn’t sold on Munster playing game 3 last year but now I think he’s an Origin player. He’s been one of the Storms best during Origin period without the big 3. This year he has been the best Storm player with both Smith and Slater not being in great form. I think he’ll do fine.

            • Roar Guru

              May 17th 2018 @ 1:50pm
              ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

              Joe,
              Agree Joe except that I think Slater has been in good form. he plays a 2nd type 5/8th role which means he does nor have to run as much but he is there is support and when he does run it counts. He remains one of the best for creating points. Ask the Fox.

          • Roar Guru

            May 17th 2018 @ 1:48pm
            ScottWoodward.me said | May 17th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Paul,
            He had Gavin Cooper next to him last year when he was BOG and he will be next to him again. Also playing left centre was Michael Morgan who will be his halfback this year and Val Holmes his winger, same as last year. His new partner will be Greg Inglis who like Cooper, I am sure will look after him.

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