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Bambluezled: How NSW gave the Origin series away

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Roar Guru
28th June, 2023
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For Brad Fittler’s first four Origin series I kept the faith. I was on the band wagon, but unfortunately during the last two State of Origin series Freddy has lost my confidence.

This is mainly due to a string of misplaced decisions made by Fittler and his staff. I listened to Greg Alexander’s explanation of why they went with Damian Cook in the centres to replace Tom Trbojevic after he was injured in game two.

Firstly they were worried about Tabuai-Fidow’s speed, for good reason, and then Cam Murray’s ability to move laterally after returning from a groin injury.

So, if they were worried about a Queensland centre breaking the NSW defensive line, is the best decision to place a hooker into that defensive position?

I feel that was a gamble with odds too big to take. Damien Cook did nothing wrong, he did his absolute best and can hold his head high, it’s not the NSW player’s fault that the score line ended where it did.

Let me state that there is nothing wrong with the players in NSW. The talent and depth of talent is equal, if not better than Queensland.

Just look at the fullback position: James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Dylan Edwards, Clint Gutherson, Josh Drinkwater and Ryan Papenhuyzen just to name a few.

And in the back row / lock position they had Keaon Koloamatangi, Haumole Olakauatu, Angus Crichton, the Butcher brothers, Tariq Sims, Luciano Leilua and Ray Stone available. So why risk Cam Murray if they were worried about his groin injury?

Josh Addo-Carr of the Blues react after a Maroons try during game two of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on June 21, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Josh Addo-Carr of the Blues  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

This isn’t amateur bush footy played in regional NSW, it’s State of Origin, the pinnacle of professional league.

Going back to the 2022 series and Fittler had another long list of indecisive and cut and paste selections.
Freddy’s practice of pick and flick has a list of one game wonders that includes, Luke Keary, Jacob Saifiti, Katoni Staggs, Ryan Matterson, Nick Cotric, Nicho Hynes, Tavita Pangai Junior, and you could add Jordan Maclean.

And there’s rumours perhaps Stefano Utoikamanu will join this list if Jake Trbojevic is available for game three.

Taking a gamble on someone like Tavita Pangai Junior, as some kind of experiment, leaves me wondering, did they really have confidence in the player to begin with? The selectors obviously were never really sure in their selections in the first place, otherwise they would give the player a second chance.


Plus the selection and use of interchange players in the last two Origin series has been bamboozling and has often left me scratching my head, especially when some players only get 12 minutes game time.

My team for game one of the 2023 series looked like this:
1. Tedesco
2. To’o
3. Mitchell
4. C. Graham
5. T. Trbojevic
6. Hynes
7. Cleary
8. Haas
9. Cook
10. D. Saifiti
11. Frizell
12. Murray
13. Yeo
14. Burton
15. Klemmer
16. Martin
17. Olakau’atu
18. Addo-Carr
19. J. Paulo

But for game three, after Freddy’s first two teams, my game three team would look like this:
1. Edwards
2. To’o
3. Crichton
4. C. Graham
5. Addo-Carr
6. Hynes
7. Moses
8. Haas
9. Cook
10. Paulo
11. Frizell
12. Martin
13. Murray
14. Burton
15. Utoikamanu
16. Robson
17. Koloamatangi
18. Gutherson
19. Leniu

I think with Freddy’s limited use of the interchange bench he can afford to carry Robson and Burton on the bench. And I don’t see the point in making mass changes now.

My preference for the 2024 NSW coach would be Jason Ryles but Paul McGregor is another options and I wonder if Justin Holbrook is a New South Welshman.

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