So another State of Origin series has come and gone and for the 11th time in 12 years Queensland hoisted the shield. The 2017 series looked promising for Laurie Daley’s New South Wales who demolished and old, run down, depleted Maroons side 28-4 at Suncorp Stadium in Game I before losing Games II and III, but what went wrong between those games. Who under-performed and who improved the most.
Aaron Woods described Andrew Fifita’s Game I performance as one of the best ever, comparing it to be a big kid playing against little kids. Fifita made 183 metres from 18 runs, made 21 tackles, scored a try and set up another. Arguably forcing Queensland to drop most of their forwards, Fifita couldn’t deliver the same performance in the next two games.
In the next two games he only made 156 metres from 26 runs and didn’t pose the same threat or create the havoc he did in Game I.
Jarryd Hayne is a very divisive character in rugby league. A dream chaser, Hayne made 139 metres from 13 runs in Game I, breaking the line and scoring a try.
However he only ran the ball 18 times for 135 metres in the next two games, missed 14 tackles and made crucial errors in both of New South Wales’ losses.
But it wasn’t just Hayne whose form decreased on the left edge for New South Wales. The winger ran the ball 15 times in Game I for 143 metres, breaking the line once. In the next two games he didn’t get on the ball as much making 17 runs for 147 metres. With Josh Mansour returning from injury, Morris could find himself losing his spot come Game I in Melbourne.
It’s hard to call Cameron Smith the most improved player in an Origin series but that’s what the stats suggest. He ran the ball 10 times for 40 metres and missed 11 tackles in the first two games.
But when it mattered most the Maroons captain ran the ball 16 times for 105 metres and only missed the one tackle. To Smith’s defence he did make 117 tackles in the series.