The Sydney media has begun its annual schizophrenic assault on the New South Wales Origin team with any number of players being sounded out by journalists as the men to bring down the Queensland empire. Mal Meninga is already rubbing his hands together. You can hear him laughing from Brisbane.
Last year Jamie Soward and Mitchell Pearce were earmarked as the halves pair of the future. Unbelievably, the Blues almost done the impossible and snatch the series from the Maroons.
Everyone is going to tell me that I’m crazy and these guys aren’t in form. Screw form for a second. This is Origin. We need to pick Soward and Pearce again.
The Queenslanders have never picked their team on form. You could argue for that many years the Maroons couldn’t pick on form because they didn’t have the talent pool.
Ask yourself this question. if Queensland did have the depth back then, would they pick on form?
No way in hell.
Instead of guaranteeing spots to Soward and Pearce and giving them a little peace of mind, Blues coach Ricky Stuart has done what every man before him has done. Name every bloke under the sun as a possible contender.
Legendary halfback Greg Alexander believes James Maloney is a serious contender.
“James is an Origin-style player. He is as tough as anyone in the game” Alexander said.
“He is a courageous hole runner and can play with the ball. He has a good ‘dummy and go’ and his kicking game is outstanding. He is also rock-solid in defence.”
“In regards to his character, he has Origin stamped all over him. James has started this season as he left off last year, although it wasn’t his best game against the Roosters on the weekend.”
The men that were there last year have Origin stamped all over them too. They stamped themselves three times in the 2011 series.
“There are certainly plenty of candidates” he said.
“Todd Carney is entitled to be second just behind Maloney and Jamie Soward has done nothing wrong. Terry Campese is the elephant in the room. If he can produce a month of footy like he performed against Wests Tigers last Monday night at Campbelltown, he would be a good chance of selection.”
Its two steps forward and one step back for the Blues. No one is saying Maloney couldn’t handle the Origin arena. But Soward and Pearce deserve another shot at the Queenslanders.
If we go and pick another two blokes this season, we may come close again and lose. If we go down in flames again this year with Soward and Pearce, then try Maloney or Carney.
Why screw with something that’s been twelve months in the making.
Coach Stuart agrees with Alexander.
“I agree with everything Greg said,” Stuart said.
“Greg is a person who certainly understands what State of Origin is all about. James is certainly in the mix. I spoke to James last week – and to some other players as well – and told him exactly that; that he was in the mix for Origin.”
Forget your club allegiance for a second. Forget who you love or hate. Tell me how changing the halves again will help anyone.
For the sake of humanity Ricky. Please, please, pretty please pick Soward and Pearce again.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FOOTYSOCIAL.COM.AU