5 Things we learnt from Origin 1
1/ Who would be named Test captain – if a team had been selected after game 1? Greg Inglis and Boyd Cordner were both exceptional in the way they led their teams. I know Mal Meninga has enormous respect for each of them. Perhaps the captaincy will be awarded to the player whose team wins the series.
2/ Game 2 is the most critical game of the series for obvious reasons. However, there is always a big difference between the team that wants to win the game and the team that needs to win the game. These games are normally won between the ears and the emotional energy required to keep the series alive. Such a shame that with the new rules on foul play – it is unlikely we will see any players going toe to toe – like the old days!
3/ QLD will need to make some changes to their team – including the selection of Billy Slater and Matt Scott (assuming they are both fit) – and their mind set to their defence will be a big focus. In particular, their right edge which did not handle the dangerous threats of the NSW attack.
4/ NSW will have the biggest challenges to overcome including the well-deserved wraps from game 1, the expectations of winning the series at home and not getting too far ahead of themselves.
5/ Will Billy Slater make the expected difference to get the Queenslanders home? He deserves to end his career on a high note and there would be no better way to send him out than in front of 52,000 passionate fans at Suncorp Stadium in a classic Origin decider.
The NRL has come in for its share of criticism this week for introducing another set of sanctions that will allow referees to put players in the sin bin for acts of foul play.
Todd Greenberg has also conceded (after 14 tedious rounds) that the officials have gone too far in looking for penalties and being trigger happy when it comes to putting players in the bin for professional fouls.
A record number of penalties and sin bins would seem to confirm this and the league wonders why there has been such an outrage in social media by the punters!
We are now being reassured that NRL games will be allowed to flow, the players will feel the normal effects of fatigue and hopefully the players (not the officials) will be talked about after the game for their exceptional skills on the football field.
You don’t need to look any further than Origin 1 to remind ourselves of the value of not over complicating a simple game. The flow of the game was exceptional, the referees didn’t get involved unnecessarily and fans on both sides of the border would have to agree that the best team won on the day.
The NRL, the players association and broadcasters deserve some praise for the scheduling of this year’s competition, including a stand-alone Origin game in Sydney on Sunday week.
The collaborative approach of looking after the game’s (and the players) best interests is becoming very clear after some bold decisions were taken to scrap the pre-season Nines tournament, the Indigenous All Stars game, the City v Country and the Anzac Day Test.
The excessive workload on the elite players had to be addressed and the clubs will see the benefits of it this year with less representative demands being placed on their highly paid personnel.
A number of experienced players have also put their clubs first by standing from representative commitments including Cameron Smith, Jonathon Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Darius Boyd, Simon Mannering and Brett Morris.
It will be a shorter preparation for Origin 2 and both coaches will be monitoring the health of their players closely as Rd 15 gets underway tonight.
Rabbitohs, Warriors, Roosters, Bulldogs, Dragons, Sharks, Storm, Tigers.