Do not be fooled by your calendar. It might be October, but you guarantee that New South Wales Blues coach Laurie Daley has already begun planning the mighty Queenslanders’ demise.
On the verge of a historic eighth consecutive series win, the Maroons need to be stopped. They have to be.
The 2012 series proved the Blues could go with the champions. They were closer than they have been in many years and the torment of Cooper Cronk’s field goal in Game Three would still haunt the likes of veterans Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis.
Daley will have depth and plenty of talent to choose from next year.
Robbie Farah’s rise to Origin level gives the Blues another leader alongside Gallen, Lewis and Glenn Stewart. You can add Mitchell Pearce, Jarryd Hayne and Greg Bird to that leadership group.
These men are the foundation moving forward. You can’t question any of these guys or their motivation. They despise Queensland and are desperate to taste series success.
Don’t forget Kurt Gidley either.
You have two firebrands in the engine room that can match and dominate the middle third. James Tamou and Tim Grant are long term front rowers and are here to stay.
Then there are the game breakers. The guys that can win a game with one play.
Men like Tony Williams, Akuila Uate and Josh Morris. X-Factors who can do serious damage to an ageing Queensland outfit.
If Todd Carney can find his feet, the Blues have a legitimately dangerous outfit.
But who else out there can make a difference for the Blues?
Coach Daley will not shy away from picking someone he thinks can do a job. Rather than his predecessor who believed only certain players had that “Origin grit”.
Ryan Hoffman’s resurgence gives NSW another fringe attacker. After winning the 2012 premiership with the Melbourne Storm and Australian selection, Hoffman should be one of the first picked for the Blues.
This might finally spell the end of Ben Creagh’s representative career.
Someone else who should seriously be considered is the enigmatic New Zealand Warriors backrower, Feleti Mateo. For far too long Mateo has been ignored by selectors.
Mateo on his day is the most dangerous backrower in the National Rugby League.
State lines have been divided once more after Saturday night’s Test match where Queensland players sang their team song despite wearing the green and gold of Australia.
Former NSW halfback Tommy Raudonikis added his two cents.
“But what the Queenslanders seem to forget is that the tide, it’ll turn,” Raudonikis told TheTelegraph.com.au.
“And it’s a bloody quick fall from the penthouse.”