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

Queensland Make It 8

I am on the highest of highs… of highs. QUEENSLAND TAKE OUT ORIGIN FOR THE 8TH TIME IN A ROW!!

This needs no caption.

This needs no caption. SOURCE: NRL Facebook page

Tension was running high as the players ran out onto the field for the ultimate decider of the Origin series 2013. This was it. This was the moment. This was the moment for the Blues to shut up their naysayers and stop Queensland’s dominating streak, and the moment for the Maroons to continue their momentum from game two.

Queensland made the first half count with some early points from Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston who racked up a converted try and a penalty conversion. The Blues mounted a comeback with a try from McManus and ended the half at 8 – 4.

I could not sit down during the second half because I can honestly say a game of footy has not kept me on my toes like this in a very long time. The gruelling second half was intense and was nearly too hard for me to watch until my Broncos boy Hodges scored a try at the 61st minute which wasn’t successfully converted. All was well in the Queensland department until SolSat’s Golden Boy Corey Parker let in a try from Merrin at the 71st minute. My poor Parker.

In the final minutes of the game, 10-12 to the Maroons, it was all coming down to whoever was in possession. Just as I thought one of my personal favourites, the underrated Matt Scott would score a try, a stupid, fat, ignorant streaker ran onto the field to disrupt not only the brilliant game that had been played but Scott’s try. An array of colourful language threatened to escape my mouth but I managed to stop it. Streakers – be ready to see an opinion piece on them.

Queensland managed to keep possession in the final seconds of play and seize the victory over the Blues for their 8th straight victory in what was an unforgettable defeat.

Now, it’s time for the SOLST-O-METER!

Solst-o-meter
Even with what I perceived to be shotty officiating from one Shayne Hayne and an absolutely horrendous try-ruining streaker, my boys still managed to scrape up the victory and make it #8inarow.

1. Billy Slater – still exhibits his fine footy finesse and shows why he IS the greatest fullback in the game, despite your personal feelings for the man. RATING: Satisfied.
2. Darius Boyd – bleh first half, somewhat decent second half. If he didn’t ground that ball, I would’ve torn him a new one. RATING: Neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
3. Greg Inglis – I was still expecting a classic GI moment from him but didn’t get any of the sort. RATING: Neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
4. Justin Hodges – my bucking Bronco played excellent! Now if only he could bring that back to the Broncos, that’d be great. RATING: Satisfied.
5. Brent Tate – excellent form here by the Cowboy Tate. RATING: Satisfied.
6. Johnathan Thurston – hands down Man of the Match. RATING: Very Satisfied.
7. Cooper Cronk – some great play from Cronk, nothing earth shattering like I’m used to from him but still good. RATING: Satisfied.
8. Matt Scott – my poor Scotty, his Origin moment was taken from him. Either way, he was still incredible tonight. RATING: Satisfied.
9. Cameron Smith – the Captain of the Squad demonstrated exactly why he is the greatest player in the game today. RATING: Satisfied.
10. Nate Myles – good ol’ Myles, no punch ups this time thank goodness. Wasn’t outstanding but wasn’t bad either. RATING: Neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
11. Chris McQueen – good ol’ McQueen and his green eyes also did not wow me with his performance but he still played pretty well. RATING: Neither satisfied or dissatisfied.
12. Sam Thaiday – Thaiday started off the game firing on all cylinders then kind of went down after that but finished the game on a high. RATING: Satisfied.
13. Corey Parker – SolSat’s darling Corey Parker played the whole game excellently keeping up his great form… until he let that try in from Merrin. You could see that he was tired so I may let that one slide. RATING: Satisfied.
14. Daly Cherry-Evans – DCE didn’t play as well as he did in the second game but he was still fired up keeping me impressed nevertheless. RATING: Satisfied.
15. Ben Te’o – some excellent plays there from the former Bronco. He let out a penalty but also kept up some great defense. RATING: Satisfied.
16. Matt Gillett – my Bronco played well tonight despite giving away a penalty. Deserves a good pat on the back. RATING: Satisfied.
17. Josh Papali’i – the soft-spoken gentle giant’s defense is damn unmatched. His heavy hitting tackles are cringeworthy and then he just gets up with a cute smile on his face. RATING: Satisfied.

Congratulations Queensland Maroons, a well deserved win from all of you. Keep up the good work and make it 9 in a row in 2014! Now to celebrate my victory by decking myself out in Maroon when I go to college tomorrow. Noah out!

– by The Black Widow

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