NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine’s 100% FOOTY every Monday night of the NRL season, debating the hottest topics in rugby league alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune in to 9Gem tonight at 9pm (AEST) after an excellent round 18!
Like everyone else, I was surprised by some of the NSW selections for Origin III.
The Blues are a pressured team so there were always changes, but I thought one or two of the players left out were pretty unlucky and the balance of the team is not what you normally see in an Origin team.
I can’t remember many Origin teams that have carried two backbone players on the bench, but that’s what Brad Fittler and the selectors have done with this side, picking Clint Gutherson as a ‘just in case’ player who will cover injuries on the bottom line. .
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Normally, in the past, if you chose to take a player like Gutherson on the bench, you would ask your starting hooker to play 80 minutes or use a Cameron Murray guy to hit the hooker when necessary. With this team, they have Reece Robson to fill in for the hooker, so it looks like Gutho will only get a run if half or one of the outside runners break down.
To me it looks like the NSW selectors have been burned by the first two games with crosses ending the game on the sidelines. In the first game, Tom Trbojevic came out for the closing stages of an HIA and Queensland made the most of Nicho Hynes playing out of position, with Cameron Munster defending him and then putting Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow into space. That cost the Blues a win.
Then in game two poor old Turbo went down again with that pectoral injury in the opening exchanges and Freddy had to get creative with a Plan B. Damien Cook is a very good player but he’s not a center so twice in two games the Blues The plan fizzled out.
When that happens to you twice in two games, it’s probably fair enough to hit the panic button and pick a bench player that fits that scenario. Freddy would have been called a genius if Gutherson had been on the bench for those first two games because he would have been able to slot right under the center. Who knows, maybe NSW will win those two games if Gutho was in the mix.
However, it leaves the swap looking light. It means Jake Trbojevic, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Jacob Saifiti will all have to play big minutes in the middle, and don’t forget that Trbojevic is just one game away from injury.
None of those three guys have played an Origin minute in this series thus far and they came to the team following the injury to Payne Haas and the decision to sit out Junior Paulo and Stefano Utoikamanu.
I can understand Paulo’s decision. He’s a great player for the Eels, but he’s had plenty of opportunities at the origin level and he hasn’t gotten them. His RCG partner deserves his chance. He would have almost picked him for Game 2, he had come back from injury and was pretty good, so if he had been picked for Game 2, he wouldn’t have looked askance at it. He has been there before and has been very consistent at club level in recent years.
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The other casualties in the front pack were Tyson Frizell and Hudson Young and I can understand those calls. Frizell has been a standout server for a long time and has won a couple of series, but it’s probably not a bad call to blood one of the rising stars in the back row, and I’ve been a long-time fan of Keaon Koloamatangi.
It didn’t quite work out for Hudson Young, he just didn’t look at home at this level. I’m not saying he can’t do it, he’s outstanding for Canberra and he’s fit and strong enough so if he can use being dropped for fuel he might just put on a blue jersey again and be better for it. I’ve been dropped on the NSW side more than once, you just have to make sure your next chance counts.
In fact, I think NSW ultimately went with the best back line available. We have Origin players there in Liam Martin and Cameron Murray – they’re there, they’re just starting out and I think they’re capable of being a real strength for NSW.
Isaah Yeo has been there in the past and has done a good job but I think Murray deserves his chance at 13 and Yeo is a good player to call off the bench because he has that versatility and can play on the edge or in the centers. if he needs
With Yeo out of the starting side and Nathan Cleary still injured, it looks like Freddy thought through the role of Jarome Luai and decided to go in a different direction. I actually feel sorry for Luai, he’s gotten a lot of criticism, but I don’t think NSW has had too many players come across as more dangerous in this series. He was quite difficult to handle in both games and it takes him to the Queenslanders which shouldn’t be held against him.
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Cody Walker is a very good player and wouldn’t have been too far off the pick early in the series so he deserves a chance but I was surprised the Blues didn’t keep Luai after taking him since they picked him for first time. 2021.
They are combinations of three halves in three games and with quite short preparations that do not make life easy. Will Walker and Mitch Moses team up? We’ll have to wait and see.
While there are no guarantees when you lose 2-0 and change teams, one thing Blues fans should watch is the hunger of the new players to prove themselves worthy of Origin Arena and try to cement their spot for next year. . That’s how I looked at it when I got drafted in dead rubber games, and it happened to me a couple of times where I didn’t get drafted early in the series and then got called up for game three with the outcome already decided.
I played a dead game in 2007 and hadn’t been picked for game one and two, so I had something to prove. I played well and we won that game at Suncorp, so that probably contributed to me being picked on the team next year.
The other dead game I played was in 2010, and again I hadn’t been picked in game one, so I needed to show the selectors that I deserved to be on that side.
When next Wednesday’s game comes around there will be some players in the side who have played both games and some coming into the side for the first time so they have to go out there and rip, rip and put NSW back in the winner’s circle and hopefully they get their names down for next year because they came out and got a nice win.
I never thought of a 2-0 game as a stalemate and I don’t think any player does, every Origin means so much. All the players will be doing their best and hopefully a good crowd will support the Blues and they can get a win.
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