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Never Forget – State of Origin Game III

Justin Hodges received an unforgettable send off on Wednesday night as Queensland demolished an abysmal NSW side. The Blues team that showed up on Wednesday was a shell of their former pride and existence and in the coming year that shell will be cracked into a thousand pieces as the aftermath of such a performance is inevitably detrimental to the legacy of the team. While Queensland players and fans will speak of the night for many years to come it will be quite the opposite south of the border. The one theme that will be constant throughout both regions is that it was a night that will never be forgotten.

The Aftermath

The entire New South Wales team will most likely be prodded and poked heading into Origin 1 next year to determine if they are truly worthy of playing at such a level. Queensland is likely to remain untouched despite sky-rocketing towards the selection danger zone. Josh Dugan is the only new injury to come from the game however he is still a chance to show up for the Dragons on the weekend. Paul Gallen remains uncertain as he has been most of the season. Justin Hodges will take a rest. Trent Merrin will miss four weeks while Beau Scott and James Tamou will miss one each after being charged by the judiciary.

The Good

Queensland – The scoreline says it all.

Corey Parker – Deserves all the praise in the world as he not only has been the most damaging forward for Queensland throughout the season but has continued to prove that the number 13 should be considered part of ‘the spine’ as he has been an integral part of Queensland’s playmaking efforts.

Cameron Smith – Didn’t let anything get him down. He performed at his usual best.

Cooper Cronk – The day that Cooper Cronk leaves the Maroon outfit for good is the day Queensland should start to panic. His vision and precision helped Queensland to control the game from the beginning. Justin Thurston ran the show for most of the second half as Cronk took a well deserved break however the game could have easily gone differently if it wasn’t for this guy’s dominant first half performance.

Josh Papalii and Dane Gagai– Both players proved why they deserved to be there in their first game of the series as they both looked dangerous almost every time they touched the ball. They should both be part of the team for years to come.

The Bad

New South Wales – The under 20’s team (they won their game) probably could’ve put in a better performance than that. Not one player in the team looked up to scratch. 33% possession, 12 penalties conceded, 12 errors, 32 missed tackles.

Aggression – While I love to see biff as much as the next person it got a bit sad when the NSW forwards seeemed more focused on hurting QLD than actually playing the game after they became frustated with the score line. It has been a large part of NSW culture to play with that sort of aggression to wear the QLD players out but they have always maintained intensity in the game at the same time.

Michael Ennis has been in some of the best form of his career at the Sharks which I would put down largely to the fact that he stopped messing around focusing on the ‘niggle’ all the time and focused more on playing smart football. He fell back into bad habits while in the NSW jumper and had a very average game of footy; unless he was rating success on how many tussles he could get into.

James Tamou is another player who has been performing very well in the NRL however in the last two Origin games he hasn’t played as well which i would blame on him getting caught up in the ugly stuff.

Where do we go from here?

Queensland-

Justin Hodges is hanging up the boots and Dane Gagai will slot in nicely. The Queensland jerseys 1 through to 9 and 13 is perfect but the likely situation is that next year New South Wales might actually grow a brain and put some decent attack backs in which will put Queensland under pressure. In that situation the forward pack needs some serious improvement.

Nate Myles simply isn’t a top four prop in Queensland anymore and is getting old so really shouldn’t have a place in the team. McGuire should start at 10 and Dylan Napa needs to be included on the bench. Sam Thaiday will need to go soon and could be replaced by the likes of Ethan Lowe.

As far as utility is concerned Michael Morgan needs to be booted. I get that he can play any position from 1 t0 7 and has a good frame about him but he lacks skills and is not a player that will be a future Origin star. He rides the coat tails of Thurston and once Thurston is gone people will realise that Morgan is not a top player. Jake Friend is the best option to replace Smith and would be a good option to play at utility as he could fill in at any position from 6 – 13 and does have a place in the team as a future star of Origin. In the case that a player from 1-5  was injured then Aidan Guerra could play centre and push Inglis or Chambers into whatever position needs to be filled.

New South Wales-

While the forward pack was less than impressive the other night they were thrown under the bus from the start by the backs letting them down and from there it all fell apart. The strategy for selection has been to choose players based on solid line defence and beat-stick attack. When a team is selected on that basis and gets beaten 52-6 you have to realise that there is an issue with that strategy. The entire NSW 1-7 needs to be re-evaluated if they want to be competitive. While they should still pick players that would be able to defend they need to have strike power in attack; the kind of spark attack that actually threatens the QLD defence.

Josh Dugan did a good job at fullback but good isn’t good enough when you are opposite Billy Slater or Greg Inglis and your predessecor is Jarryd Hayne. James Tedesco could be great. He may be at a club which is currently at the bottom of the ladder but he has consistently been a shining light for the Tigers in 2015. Josh Dugan is strong in defence and a powerful runner but James Tedesco is both of those things and also offers an unorthodox running style, a brilliant step, amazing kicking and passing skills and great vision. He currently leads the league in tackle busts for 2015, averages almost as many metres as Dugan and most importantly has a lot more tries and try assists to his name.

Josh Morris is favoured for his defence despite being very average in attack however he was about as useful as tits on a bull in Origin 3. He needs to go. A player such as Dylan Walker who actually looks dangerous would be a good replacement.

Why Hopoate was in the team to start with is a mystery but surely he can’t stay around much longer. Tupou deserves to get his jersey back or alternatively Josh Mansour can’t stay injured forever and should get back to form pretty soon.

Pearce was reasonably good through the first two games however was fairly restricted considering he was basically doing the job of two players as he tried to cover for the walking disaster of a player that is Trent Hodkinson. I wouldn’t blame selectors if they let the Pearce ship sail but if they select Hodkinson again then they deserve to lose. He offers NOTHING. Give Aidan Sezer, Blake Austin, Luke Keary or even Matt Moylan a go at 5/8 and put Pearce or Adam Reynolds (depending on injury/form) in the number 7 jersey. That is how you will actually score points.

The forward pack is basically fine except Beau Scott needs to go. Give up the scumbag tactics. They haven’t worked in the last 10 years. Aside from being a scumbag that tries to hurt opposition players Beau Scott isn’t worth a whole lot. Bring a young forward on to the bench such as Tyson Frizzell, Bryce Cartwright or Reagan Campbell-Gillard or even bring Mitchell Aubusson into the number 14 jersey as he is one of the best utilities to play the game.

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