After just one series win in twelve years, it’s time New South Wales stopped accepting mediocrity and go in a new direction with the makeup of their team and coaching staff.
It’s not just the mediocrity NSW have let their fans sit through and suffer over the past decade but indicative of wider issues. Why weren’t NSW up for the series decider? Put simply, it comes down to a poor culture.
Four nights before the Game III decider at Suncorp Stadium, Blues duo Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan – both players with a history of off-field wrongdoing – decided to get on the drink before turning up to training the next day hungover.
I don’t think anyone in the Queensland team would be out for beers a few nights before an Origin decider.
If Dugan and Ferguson gain selection for next year’s series, it exposes the Blues for their poor culture and low standards. The former Canberra teammates must have their cards marked now, no Origin football for the pair in 2018.
Another allegation to come out of the NSW camp after Game III was the news that Andrew Fifita over-ruled coach Laurie Daley’s decision to bench him for David Klemmer for the decider at Suncorp Stadium.
The next New South Wales coach must be more hard-nosed. Whoever it may be, he must install belief, culture and standards into this football team. Representative teams getting beaten by 50 points in an Origin decider (52-6 in Game III of the 2015 series) has nothing to do with talent, all it comes down to is a poor culture.
In fact, New South Wales have failed in all seven series-deciding fixtures played during Queensland’s 12-years of dominance. This stat is nothing short of Abysmal.
Even NSW’s biggest apologist Phil Gould has come out swinging at Laurie Daley’s side by stating that the culture in the side is ‘’not right’’ and ‘’who’s going to take control over what the personality of this team is?”.
What changes need to be made? For starters, bad boys Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson are first to go. The ego-centric Jarryd Hayne, Andrew Fifita and James Maloney are next to go while the underperforming Mitchell Pearce – who is yet to win an Origin series in his 18 appearances – is the final man to miss out.
Who comes in? Tom Trbojevic comes in for Brett Morris whom announced his representative retirement a fortnight ago. Jack Bird replaces Jarryd Hayne on the left edge, James Roberts replaces Dugan on the right while Penrith powerhouse Josh Mansour is the man to come in for Blake Ferguson on the right wing.
The halves are the tricky ones. Despite many thinking he is too young, a good coach and an experienced halves partner may help ease Nathan Cleary into the Origin arena. The only other option at halfback for mine is premiership winner Chad Townsend but Cleary is the definite future of NSW whether it be next year or 2019.
The experienced half to partner Cleary? A left field choice here but there is no one better than Blake Green. Having spent two seasons in the Melbourne Storm system and having played a Grand Final, it is obvious Green can bring a much-needed culture shift to the blues camp.
Green has proved to be the perfect foil for Daly Cherry-Evans at Manly this season, helping the club into third spot on the NRL ladder.
The forward pack. Jake Trbojevic, New South Wales best forward of the 2017 series, starts in the front row alongside hooker Nathan Peats and St. George Illawarra’s Paul Vaughn.
Boyd Cordner, Wade Graham and Jack De Belin make up the starting backrow. On the bench we see Tyson Frizell, Ryan James, and one of the more important inclusions in the side – Dale Finucane. The utility role for this series goes to Cody Walker.
2018 New South Wales Squad
1 James Tedesco
2 Tom Trbojevic
3 Jack Bird
4 James Roberts
5 Josh Mansour
6 Blake Green
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Jake Trbojevic
9 Nathan Peats
10 Paul Vaughn
11 Boyd Cordner ©
12 Wade Graham
13 Jack De Belin
14 Cody Walker
15 Tyson Frizell
16 Ryan James
17 Dale Finucane