Maroons Squad Remains Unchanged

Chairman, Coach and Captain at the team announcement. (SOURCE: Queensland Maroons Facebook)

Chairman, Coach and Captain at the team announcement. (SOURCE: Queensland Maroons Facebook)

The final game is coming up, the cliffhanger of rugby league. The decider of State of Origin. As always, I look forward to the naming of the Maroons squad and was quite surprised to see that there were no changes to the team and wondered, “Is that a good idea or a bad idea?” Here is your Queensland team for the Origin Decider:

1. Billy Slater
2. Darius Boyd
3. Greg Inglis
4. Justin Hodges
5. Brent Tate
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Matt Scott
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Nate Myles
11. Chris McQueen
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Corey Parker
14. Daly Cherry-Evans
15. Ben Te’o
16. Matt Gillett
17. Josh Papali’i
18. Jacob Lillyman
19. Will Chambers

Coming off a clear victory over the Blues in game two, it would make sense that the team that performed so well together would remain intact. However, with omissions from the game one squad like Shillington and Harrison, the former of which I have a personal soft spot for, is it exactly the wisest move?

There are those within the squad that would remain “untouched” – Slater, Smith, Inglis and Cronk just to name a few, essentially meaning that they can get comfortable because unless an injury occurs, their spot in the team is pretty much guaranteed. The others on the team, as talented as they are, have to work hard to earn their spot on the squad and that is where the changes happen.

One of the most consistent players on the Queensland side, keeping up an impressive form throughout the 2013 Origin series has been my fave Corey Parker. Playing as an interchange in game one, Parker put on a great performance with some good runs and tackles, possibly being one of the main Queenslanders for game one, earning himself the no. 13 jersey in game two over Ashley Harrison. Continuing his terrific form in game two, it was no shock to me that Parker retained his Lock status for the decider, which isn’t a knock on Harrison in the slightest as Parker’s performances this year have been some of his best in his career.

Another interchange Cinderella story happens in the form of young Rabbitoh Chris McQueen. Also coming off the bench to put on a great performance in game one, McQueen seized a starting position in game two in the second row. His fantastic form in game two also contributed to the fact that the squad has remained the same.

Even with the loss of Origin players like Shillington and Harrison, the successful game two squad are looking to continue the momentum in the decider and make it 8 in a row. Bias aside, I believe that we’ve got this one. The Maroons put on a rugby clinic in game two and with the added pressure of the deciding victory in game three, it will only motivate the squad to keep on truckin’ up hill and defeat the Blues on their own turf.

Of course, if I don’t achieve victory next week, I hope for an excellent game of league that’ll keep me on my toes for the full 80 minutes – literally on my toes as I tend to skip around when excited.

Here’s to a great game of league and an 8-in-a-row Maroons victory.

– by The Black Widow

Maroons Seize Game Two: No Wrath Necessary

I’m on a high at the moment; the Queensland Maroons just put on a rugby clinic in Game Two of the State of Origin series, defeating the NSW Blues 26 to 6. I guess the team took my “nefarious wrath” threat seriously and decided to play an urgent game like there was a fire lit under their arses.

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(Maroons captain and Man of the Match for Game Two, Cameron Smith. SOURCE: Queensland Maroons official Facebook page.)

In the first moments of the game, after seeing poor Matty Scott getting pantsed in the first minute, my fearless Broncos leader Sam Thaiday pulled off an excellent opening play scoring a try in the second minute to much cheers and celebration from my household which may or may not have scared my 2 year old nephew. The Laughing Kookaburra added to the excitement with a successful conversion.

After gaining a penalty, Thurston took a penalty kick at the 10 minute mark and gained us another 2 points as my dwindling faith in Thurston may just have been rekindled after his disappointing performance in Game One.

Throughout the game, the Maroons created great try opportunities for winger Darius Boyd in which he JUST missed out on, but nevertheless he scored some excellent tries, one at the 17th minute and the 48th minute, only one of which had a successful conversion from Thurston. In the midst of all this, the Maroons had some fan-bloody-tastic defense with some notable mentions going out to the benchies, first to happy, dough-eyed Manly player Daly Cherry Evans who was not scared to put on a hit to the oncoming traffic and Josh Papali’i, who I predicted would be a wildcard and I would be damn proud to say that he proved me right.

Greg Inglis had played terrific throughout the night and only cemented his status as Outstanding Origin player when he scored a beautiful try at the 55th minute, resurrecting my faith in GI as being a central player for the Maroons squad. Give me another Thurston conversion and another Thurston penalty goal and Bobsuruncle – the Maroons are victorious.

Even though I strongly dislike the Blues, I am mature enough to admit when they either played better than we did or they played good footy, but I must admit that I wasn’t impressed by their performance in the slightest. In saying that, it was clear that the Maroons were hungry for the win and they snatched it early on in the game.

The officiating was as terrible as aggressive footy fans make it out to be, making an absolutely stupid call sending Tate off for doing nothing but pushing Merrin off for staying on someone, the latter of which would make a few unnecessary punches and voila. In comes Hodges with a few sneaky shots of his own which were also unnecessary and frowned upon and we just had Game Two’s big biff. The way I see it, Merrin and Hodges should have been the only ones to be sent off but somehow Tate and Bird joined the fray. Needless to say, the officiating infuriated me. Another small tiff in the game came when Slater, from what I understand, accidentally elbowed someone in the face and is now on report. Whoops.

Now, here’s the:

Solst-o-meter
It’s Solst-o-meter time! I rate the players on how well they played and whether they Satisfied or Did Not Satisfy… or somewhere in between.

1. Billy Slater: shows why he is the greatest fullback in the game. RATING: Satisfied.
2. Darius Boyd: aside from the missed try opportunities, Boyd continues to shine. RATING: Satisfied.
3. Greg Inglis: enough said. RATING: Very Satisfied
4. Justin Hodges: aside from the punching, my Bronco played excellently. RATING: Satisfied.
5. Brent Tate: abso-bloody-lutely great. RATING: Satisfied.
6. Johnathan Thurston: didn’t start off that great but soared as the minutes rolled by. RATING: Satisfied.
7. Cooper Cronk: Cronk’s offensive skills are, quite frankly, unmatched. RATING: Very Satisfied.
8. Matt Scott: this Cowboy is a human train, orchestrating some excellent runs and gaining great metres. Still, in my humble opinion, one of the most underrated players in the league. RATING: Very Satisfied.
9. Cameron Smith: Man of the Match. Done. RATING: Very Satisfied.
10. Nate Myles: I’m glad to see he didn’t get into a fight after playing some good footy. RATING: Satisfied.
11. Chris McQueen: some good plays there in his Origin starting debut. Nothing to nitpick from my side. RATING: Satisfied.
12. Sam Thaiday: scoring a try in the first 2 minutes? That’s my Broncos captain! RATING: Satisfied.
13. Corey Parker: Outstanding. Simply outstanding. RATING: Very Satisfied.
14. Daly Cherry-Evans: probably one of the greatest defenders in the game, and from such a small frame (compared to everyone else). RATING: Satisfied
15. Ben Te’o: great defense from Te’o, even though I haven’t forgiven him for leaving the Bronx. RATING: Satisfied.
16. Matt Gillett: played a decent game. RATING: Neither Satisfied nor Dissatisfied.
17. Josh Papali’i: excellent form from this soft-spoken Raider. Nearly as underrated as Matt Scott. RATING: Satisfied.

Here’s to an exciting and very much anticipated Game Three, the decider. I am desperately wanting a Queensland win but if I just get a bloody amazing game of footy, I’ll be fine. Noah out!

– by The Black Widow

Game 2 Maroons Squad: Under the Eye of the Raven

As I sit here consuming two blocks of Caramello chocolate selfishly to myself in a pre-meal of sorts to the array of pizzas my family and I traditionally have on Origin night, I wanted to write a personal analysis of the team, yet still remain a fun piece on the Queensland Maroons squad for Game 2 in the State of Origin – seeing as I’m a Queensland supporter and have little interest in the Blues side.

We’ve seen several changes within the squad from Game One: Ashley Harrison has been completely dropped, Chris McQueen is making his Origin starting debut and my beloved Corey Parker has been moved to the starting lineup, just to name a few. These changes have put me in the state of mind that we will be victorious in game two and move onto a nail biting game three later on. If we don’t win, well… I have made it apparent on the Queensland Maroons Facebook page that they will all feel and taste my nefarious wrath if they lose.

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(Coach Mal Meninga, on the left, at the official Game Two team announcement. Source: QRL.com.au)

1. Billy Slater – a very disappointing performance from him in Game One. Seeya Later Slater was apparently day dreaming in game one with 2 missed tackles  and only 5 tackles, one less than Blues counterpart and one of my most hated league players, Hayne Hayne. The usually outstanding fullback didn’t live up to my (maybe unrealistic) high expectations but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lose faith. Hopefully Slater can get his head in the game and perform better in game two, up to the standard that I know he is capable of.

2. Darius Boyd – Darius “Unimpressed” Boyd (personal joke), being the only Maroon to score a try in pretty impeccable form in game one, I must say that I have no real expectations from him in game two… except to play better. Not a knock on Boyd but I can safely say that some if not most of the squad in Game One were frollicking on the field instead of playing some good footy. Nevertheless, I was pleased with Boyd’s efforts in game one and hope he can keep it going in game two.

3. Greg Inglis – I am usually wowed – underline the word wowed – with Inglis’ origin performances. The man is a rugby league machine. That being said, his game one performance was absolutely mediocre. Nothing outstanding from GI although I will applaud his 16 tackles. No incredible “GI Runs” like I was expecting so needless to say, I was a bit disappointed, but I am hopeful that GI can tune it up for game two and be the extraordinary player I know he can be.

4. Justin Hodges – being a Broncos supporter, I have high expectations from my Broncos players. And if they don’t meet those expectations? Nefarious wrath. In saying that, Hodges played very exceptional football in game one, orchestrating some terrific plays and being, in my opinion, the MVP of the team in game one. My brother is a Storm supporter so I enjoyed rubbing it in his face that my Broncos boys did way better than his Storm boys. Keep up the good work, Hodgo.

5. Brent Tate – Tate didn’t wow me in game one nor did he let me down. He was just kind of there, which isn’t bad but it isn’t good either. With 7 tackles and no other feats worth mentioning, Tate kind of just chilled. In game two, where a win is MUCH NEEDED, I would expect better work from the Cowboy.

6. Johnathan Thurston – speaking of Cowboys, Thurston… I understand that during game one, his wife was in labour with his first child so I will cut him some slack seeing as his head clearly wasn’t in the game, but that’s just it – his head wasn’t in the game. Our very own Laughing Kookaburra clocked up 5 missed tackles and didn’t play outstanding footy like I know he can, especially since they made a huge deal about Thurston being “the” State of Origin player. Now that his family is set, I hope he can get back to playing the game.

7. Cooper Cronk – Oh So Serious Cooper Cronk, part of Melbourne’s “Big 3” was, if I may be so bold to say so, not too great in game one. Just like I said for GI, Cronk is capable of outstanding play but wasn’t in good form at all during game one. If he can play as half as good as I know he can, we will be in the capable hands of the Maroons halfback.

8. Matt Scott – now here’s a Cowboy us Queenslanders should have been proud of in game one. While it seemed some players on our side were scared of running the ball, Scott grabbed the ball, looked at the oncoming players, thought “F DA POLICE” and just charged through them like an unstoppable force. His offense was excellent and his defense was also great with 36 tackles. This underrated player is a great force the Queensland squad possesses and hopefully he can continue his great form in game two.

9. Cameron Smith – our fearless leader had a good game defense wise but not so much in the offense category. He racked up an impressive amount of tackles in defense but his offense left much to be desired – maybe this is just me having unrealistic expectations of great players, in which case, I apologise, but I know Cam is capable of much better. His play with the Melbourne Storm throughout the season has been a thing of beauty so hopefully he can bring that to game two and lead us to victory against the Blues.

10. Nate Myles – Paul Gallen. Yes, now that is THE LAST time I want to hear about that scrap. Nate Myles was a bit of a let down in my humble opinion, so moving him into the front row is going to be interesting to watch. With a pretty impressive amount of meters ran, I’d like to think that Myles can keep the momentum going in game two.

11. Chris McQueen – I had a chance to have a brief chat with this Bunny at the Maroons Fan Appreciation day and he is quite lovely, if I say so myself. Seeing as my personal opinions on people have absolutely nothing to do with footy form… eh hem. McQueen here is making his starting debut on the Maroons squad after being a benchy in game one and playing only a fair bit in game one, although he made every minute count as he played some impressive footy in game one. His promotion to starting lineup should be the fire underneath his arse to keep him going and impress not only the Queensland fans but the Blues fans alike.

12. Sam Thaiday – my Broncos captain was playing such great footy in game one… until he dropped the ball near the end. Ouch! Nevertheless, he played pretty well before that “drop”, racking up 37 tackles during his performance. Keep up the good work, Sammy!

13. Corey Parker – my favourite, as made apparent by my Gravatar. All I have to say is: it’s about damn time Parker was put in the starting lineup. While my brother insists that Ashley Harrison is “an Origin player”, Corey Parker is an excellent player, period. Whether that be in season footy or Origin footy, the man’s an underrated genius. Genius may be taking it too far, but what the heck? His performance in game one was outstanding and his offloads are as good if not better than that of SBW. I’m glad his terrific form has been rewarded with a starting position.

14. Daly Cherry-Evans – DCE, but literally, his signature is DCE. This cheery young chap from Manly Sea Eagles unfortunately didn’t get any game time in game one and I hope to see this change for game two. He is pretty good if I say so myself and if his play is as great as his personality is, then he is definitely an asset to the Maroons squad.

15. Ben Te’o – this former Bronco played some great footy in game one so it’s good to see he has remained in the squad, even if it’s a bench position. Now, if random girls would stop accusing him of crimes, that’d be great.

16. Matt Gillett – Matty Gillett, a dear Bronco of mine, played well during game one and I was quite happy about that. That’s all I can really ask for. Nothing more really to add to that.

17. Josh Papali’i – this soft spoken gentle giant was an absolute delight to chat to at the Fan Appreciation Day. His defense for the Raiders is great and some of the big hits he puts on the oncoming players are quite cringeworthy so I want him to bring that hard-hitting game to Game Two so we can take this win. He is definitely the wildcard of the squad, the ace up the sleeve, if you will.


18. Jacob Lillyman – unfortuantely Martin Kennedy from the Chooks was injured so Jacob Lillyman from the Warriors has stepped up on his behalf. My best friend Rebecca must be cheering to see one of her boys play, even if she’s a Blues supporter. I’ve heard and seen good things from Lillyman so hopefully he can wow me.

Being a home game from the greatest NRL stadium in the world, Suncorp Stadium, I believe my boys can seize the win and keep the momentum rolling to game three for what is sure to be an edge-of-the-seat nail biting game final. Come on Queensland! Let’s make this 8 in a row!

– by The Black Widow