What We Learned in Origin 2014

The biggest sporting series in Australia is now over.

State of Origin 2014 saw angry words thrown around, dodgy calls made by the refs, butterfingers dropping balls at the most crucial times, and people not seeing a pass being thrown at them. Oh, and Oscar winning “injury” performances from players.

But if there are a few specific things that we have learned over the Origin series, these would be it:

(DISCLAIMER: As a loyal Queensland supporter, I will try my darndest to be as liberal as possible regarding the situation)

Because if anyone was going to be the thumbnail of this piece, it was Cozza. (SOURCE: Queensland Maroons Facebook page)

Because if anyone was going to be the thumbnail of this piece, it was Cozza. (SOURCE: Queensland Maroons Facebook page)

1. Corey Parker can offload from a boat in Switzerland completely blindfolded and still do it properly

Now I’m not just saying this because he is so obviously my most favourite player in the game – and possibly one of my biggest idols in the world – but Corey Parker is the King of offloads. While he missed game two due to an unfortunate facial fracture, Parker’s performances in game one and three were so outstanding that even I was surprised of all the tricks he was pulling out of his tight sleeves. It’s just like… how? His performance last night in game three was definitely worthy of the Man of the Match award he was so rightfully given. Well done, Cozza!

2. Trent Hodkinson is as great as everyone makes him out to be
I was personally not sold on Hodkinson being the halfback for NSW because I didn’t think he was that great in the Doggies. I just thought he was okay… above average at best. However, Hodkinson and his dark, dark soulless eyes proved me wrong, especially in game two where he brokeded my heart and won the series for NSW. Sadface. He’s actually a stellar playmaker for both the Blues and the Doggies and I will go on the record and apologise for selling him short.

3. Not everyone is cut out for Origin
So I went into the series believing that Dave Taylor was the most in-form forward in the league and it was a travesty that he wasn’t selected to be part of the team for game one. Alas, in game two, my prayers were answered, and Taylor proved me… wrong. I would literally cringe watching him get the ball because I knew it would be a matter of time before he dropped it. The same could be said for Matt Gillett and Chris McQueen. Both of these Queensland players are outstanding in their respective clubs – Gillett being in best career form for the Broncos – but in the Maroons side, they kind of failed. The same could be said about last year’s Blues halves, Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney.

4. Origin is more emotional than people think
During the last moments of game two, my anxiety kicked in and I literally had a panic attack over the game. After we lost the series in the most disappointing game two I’ve ever seen, you know what I did? I cried. I shed actual tears over a rugby league game. I retired to my bedroom to cry some more, and then my sister joined me, and then we ate Maltesers in the dark in complete silence. If that alone doesn’t highlight just how emotional this game can get, you’re kidding yourself.

5. Queensland isn’t unstoppable
Some footy fans were lulled into a false sense of security because our side has outstanding players, “The Big Four” included. Couple that with our eight in a row series wins and I went into the series thinking that we had this in the bag. I felt generally safe, thinking that until Slater, Cronk, Smith and Inglis would retire, we’d always win. Well, clearly we didn’t. When it comes down to it, the Blues played better overall and as much as I don’t like it, they deserved to win this year.

6. The no punching rule is stupid
I miss Origin biffs. Bring them back please. All these “let’s get into each other’s faces and breathe deeply and not do anything and mutter angry words to each other” situations are really pathetic. I was expecting to see some fists flying last night because, hey, NSW had already won, but no. It’s just part of the rugby league culture to get into a physical disagreement now and then. Deal with it.

7. Hayne is not better than Slater
The rivalry between these two players has been well documented over the years, so much that some Blues enthusiasts have said that Hayne is better than Slater. Well, Queensland fan or not, that is simply not true. If not demonstrated by Slater’s performance versus Hayne’s performance, Slater is clearly the more talented fullback. Even if he does get away with a couple of misdemeanours that others can’t.

8. The referees need some serious counselling
Now, I’m not going to single out one individual ref, but I think the NRL referees in general need some guidance when it comes to calling the most important rugby league series of the year. Too many times have we seen stupid calls made this year and that alone has ruined the spirit and buzz of Origin. Please, referees, I have four words for you: sort your shit out.

Needless to say, congrats to the Blues and their very aggressive fans. You finally broke our streak. But we’ll be taking our trophy back next year, thanks.


– by The Black Widow

Tipping for Dummies: Round 18

Everybody's favourite "Tipping for Dummies!"

Everybody’s favourite “Tipping for Dummies!”

Welcome to another edition of SolSat’s Tipping for Dummies! We’re in round 18 and it’s the “State of Origin Team Bye” round before the big decider next week, meaning the Origin players will be pulled from their respective teams in this round. Let’s begin with the Prediction Count.

SolSat’s Prediction Count from Round 17: 4 out of 8 (50%)

Whoops. Moving on…

Friday 12th July, 2013
Brisbane Broncos vs. Cronulla Sharks
So after my boys highly disappointing performance last week – bar Corey Parker who continues to show why he is an underrated player with impressive performance after impressive performance – they are going up against the Sharks who picked up a 14 point lead victory over the Tigers in a damn entertaining game. Can my Broncos redeem themselves or will the Sharks gnaw into the Bronx and continue their roll?

SolSat’s Prediction: Cronulla Sharks

Unfortunately, I have to be frank here – I love my boys to the moon and back but I don’t see them pulling out the V today. Their last Origin round performance against the Warriors was absolutely shocking and even with all the outs from Cronulla’s side, I see the Sharks taking out the win with the Broncos putting up a decent fight. Sorry #bronxnation! I love you all!

Saturday 13th July, 2013
Parramatta Eels vs. Penrith Panthers
My local team (the Eels, who I ironically don’t support in the slightest) will take on the Panthers at Parramatta Stadium, hoping for a home boost advantage. The Eels, needless to say, have had a bad season even with the dynamic leadership of one Mannah, so they are looking to redeem themselves as they go against the surprisingly excellent Panthers.

SolSat’s Prediction: Penrith Panthers

Taking into consideration the building momentum the Panthers have, they will take this victory without a doubt. The Eels are missing their main player in Hayne who, despite my personal feelings towards him, is a key player for the squad. The Panthers work so cohesively it’s like watching gears turn together. In saying this, the Eels always put up a good fight on their home turf so I expect to see a good game played between the two teams.

Sunday 14th July, 2013
Canterbury Bulldogs vs. Melbourne Storm
The Bulldogs, who I predicted would win with ease, actually lost last week. Sadface. They are going up against the Melbourne Storm who absolutely demolished my boys with a 32-0 win at my second-most-favourite stadium, ANZ Stadium. Two major teams clash before the biggest clash of the NRL season next Wednesday – who takes the V? Sexual pun not in the slightest bit intended.

SolSat’s Prediction: Melbourne Storm

It’s hard to deny the premiers their excellent form even with their seemingly up-and-down season and coming off a steamroller victory, they will defeat the Doggies in what is sure to be an outstanding game. The Doggies, God bless their souls, have not wowed me this season with 2012 Dally M winner Ben Barba not impressing me at all during the year. They would have to pick up their game if they want to stay in the top 8.

Monday 15th July, 2013
North Queensland Cowboys vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Predicting one game a day is way too easy; I could get used to this. Anyways, the lovely North Queensland Cowboys take on the Manly Sea Eagles at 1300SMILES stadium – the name of the stadium is so adorable, don’t you think? With the Cowboys missing their co-captains, Thurston and Scott, for Origin, will they be able to defeat the Eagles?

SolSat’s Prediction: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles

As just mentioned, the Cowboys are missing their main players and co-captains so I don’t see the Cowboys winning against the Eagles unfortunately. Manly have been playing some great footy this season with no real shockers to point out so they will keep up their fantastic form and continue their uphill momentum against the Cowboys, God bless their souls.

Besides my predictions, which I am hoping will be 100%, the big news of the day (at least regarding NRL fans) is that Blues captain Paul Gallen has been ruled out of the decider, indefinitely shifting the balance towards my mighty Maroons. Will this impact the deciding game in any way? Subscribe to Solstice Satisfaction and find out when I eventually recap the Origin decider.

Widow out!

– by The Black Widow