Origin’s Most Overlooked Players

As game two will be on our screens tomorrow, I decided to take a look at some of the players eligible for the big state clash but aren’t chosen to represent their respective state.

I’m sure that in a rugby league player’s career, he wants to accomplish a few things:
1) Be in the first 13 of his club on the first-grade team;
2) Win a premiership with his club;
3) Represent his chosen country in national tests, and
4) Represent his state in the Origin series.

As big as the first three are, I’m sure four is a mainstay in their minds; State of Origin has become one of the biggest sporting events in Australia (if not, the biggest!) People who don’t even like rugby league sit down to watch it, for crying out loud. Some players are lucky enough to be Origin mainstays and successfully make the team; others aren’t so lucky, despite having a lot of talent.

Choose your destiny... I mean side. Sorry. Playing Mortal Kombat too much.

Choose your destiny… I mean side. Sorry. Playing Mortal Kombat too much.

Writing from both sides (despite being a Queensland supporter myself… #GoMaroons), I’ve decided to highlight just a few of the names that should’ve been selected this year, but unfortunately haven’t been. The Queensland Maroons will go first, of course.

Queensland Maroons
Ben Hannant from the North Queensland Cowboys
The Polar Bear himself has had previous Origin experience, having played a total of 12 games for Queensland from 2008 to 2012. After that, he just hadn’t been selected despite being one of the most reliable forwards in the game today. If you were to compare his form to the likes of current Queensland props Matt Scott and Nate Myles, he wouldn’t make the first 13, but Hannant is definitely a contender for the bench; he always runs hard with the ball and packs a mighty punch when he makes a straight run with it. It’s disappointing to see Hannant’s name not even thrown around when Mal is deciding his forward pack; he definitely deserves it.

Ben Hunt from the Brisbane Broncos
While Daly Cherry-Evans is undoubtedly a great player, his 2015 season so far is nothing compared to that of the Broncos’ deadly halfback. With Cronk out due to injury, I was sure that Hunt would be a shoe in (I mean, who could forget dat try doe that he helped orchestrate for Lachlan Maranta?!) but alas, I was disappointed when DCE was named ahead of him, and Hunt wasn’t even put on the bench. Hunt is definitely a contender for Dally M finalist this year, and it’s easy to see why; he keeps on getting better and better and it’s about time he is rewarded by being allowed to represent his state.

James Segeyaro from the Penrith Panthers
It pained me to choose another hooker over my Andrew McCullough, but even a Broncos fan like myself cannot deny the incredible skill of the Panther nicknamed Chicko. The Papua New Guinea native migrated to Cairns when he was young and played junior footy with the Cairns rugby league club, therefore qualifying him to represent Queensland proudly. It’s hard to overlook the year that Chicko has had, and let’s not forget to mention that he was 2014’s Dally M Hooker of the Year. Like Hunt, Segeyaro hasn’t had a shot at a Maroon jersey yet, and I think it’s his time.

Brenton Lawrence from the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Despite Manly being very low on my favourite teams, one of the few reasons why I can’t help but respect them is the big, beefy forward named Brenton Lawrence. One thing I look for in a forward – especially a prop – is their “intimidation factor”; if they were to run at me, would I be scared and simply relinquish the ball and surrender, or would I charge at them fearlessly? (#FearlessNikki) If the former feeling is created, then I think that forward will do great things in their career. That is what I think Lawrence is capable of, plus more; he’s a machine when given the ball on the right play, and is criminally underrated in my sweet and humble opinion. With such a wide selection of forwards for the Maroon squad, it’s sad to see Lawrence overlooked time and time again.

New South Wales Blues
Adam Reynolds
from the South Sydney Rabbitohs
I’m just gonna say it; Reynolds is a better halfback than Hodkinson and Pearce. I would go so far to say that Reynolds is a bigger key to the Bunnies success than Inglis is. His fancy footwork and superb kicking skills make him a great player, but his field awareness and improvisational playmaking skills is what makes him a great halfback. He’s had a string of misfortune when it comes to injuries this year (dat tackle, anyone?) so it’s fair enough why he wasn’t selected for the first two games, but come game three, I think Laurie take the plunge and put Reynolds on his first team.

Jarrod Croker from the Canberra Raiders
I’m not even just including him because he’s from Goulburn; this guy has some serious talent! Like I believe Reynolds is for South Sydney, I strongly think that Croker is the reason why the Raiders have been so successful this season. It’s great that the country capital club has locked him in for so long because they’d be foolish to let him saunter off to another club (or backflip on the deal… COUGH COUGH Cherry). Not only is he their goalkicker – and a bloody good one at that – but he is the Raiders captain and has led the green team to several convincing victories after having a shit lacklustre season last year. Croker has had no previous Origin experience but I’m sure, when used correctly, he’ll become a great asset for the Blues. And he’s better than some of the backs on the Blues team at the moment, let’s be honest.

Aidan Sezer from the Gold Coast Titans
I have such high expectations for this man, and he’s fulfilled all of them; he’s an excellent playmaker for his team and can remain calm even in very tense situations, which I think is a must for a half. Plus, you don’t see him doing any crazy shit off field to detract from his skill either. When I heard that the Broncos were in need of a five-eighth, I was spewin’ that we didn’t make a big play for Aidan Sezer; combine his skills with that of Ben Hunt, and our halves would’ve been unstoppable! (No shade to Milford). His kicking game is on point and he could give Adam Reynolds a run for his money on that aspect, but as for now, I think his time to be called up to Origin is coming soon.

Tariq Sims from the Newcastle Knights
As much as it’ll pain me to see one of my favourite players on the Blues side of Origin, I think it’s about damn time that Tariq Sims is called up to play for New South Wales, and that’s not even just because he’s funny either. To me, he is one of the most underrated forwards in the league; a reliable stronghold of a man, he is as good at running the ball as he is defending his try line. Combine that with his impressive ball handling skills and his, well, “intimidation factor” and you have yourself a very good forward. Like, no offence, but I don’t think Beau Scott or Ryan Hoffman are better than him, so he could slot in well on the second-row. Plus, it’s clear that rugby league runs in his blood.

Here’s hoping to a Maroons win tomorrow, because I don’t think I can sit through a series deciding game three. My anxiety game too strong for that.

– 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.

Image
(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