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In Touch: Origin of passion

Leila McKinnon NRL.com Tue, Apr 24, 2012 - 10:30 AM

Todd Carney looks set to re-unite with Mitchell Pearce for NSW. Copyright: NRL Photos

One of the many things I love about Origin is the pre-game entertainment that starts in April, and the post game blueing that continues well after the celebratory or consolatory headaches have gone.

The first and most absorbing sideshow of Origin is simply watching New South Wales trying to choose a team.

No combination, no matter how ridiculous, is off limits.

The funniest part about it is these players will compete in one of the toughest most important games of the NRL calendar, and to be chosen they don’t even have to play the position for which they are selected.

I don’t understand the Jarryd Hayne talk at all. If he were so wonderful at five-eighth, why wouldn’t poor struggling Parra put him there and leave him there? They are last in the competition, so they have absolutely nothing to lose by trying.

Brad “Freddy” Fittler has certainly earned his right to chip in with an opinion after an outstanding NRL career, but he only made the situation more absurd with his suggestion that Hayne would make a better five-eighth for Australia than Johnathan Thurston.

“The Queenslanders, they’ve done very well haven’t they? They’re up six nil in Origin and I think they’ve brainwashed everyone a bit,” said Freddy.

Love you Freddy, but what are you really up to? JT is a two-time Dally M player of the year award winner. Just last year he won the Golden Boot award for the world’s best player. And he has played for the Maroons in every single one of the 18 games that comprise Queensland’s six-year winning streak.

This season JT is second on the list of players in try assists (behind Cooper Cronk), and third on the list of goal-kickers with a success rate of 69 percent.

And as The King Wally Lewis said: “If Freddy wasn’t happy with Thurston’s performance in the Test match, he must have been on the grumpy pills.”

How quickly would poor old Freddy and Sticky put JT into five-eighth for the Blues, if only they had the choice?

I see Pearce and Carney as the best halves combination for New South Wales.�

At a Roosters function in 2010 I witnessed first hand the sweet blooming “bromance” that had developed between these two, a beautiful relationship confirmed by their laughing girlfriends.

Together they can make magic on the field. We all had high hopes. If Carney hadn’t spent 90 per cent of last season sulking and bringing his off-field grudges onto the field, and the other 10 per cent drinking, getting tattoos, and betraying promises to his teammates, they might still be together. I feel Carney let down Pearce, although I’m sure in Origin both would perform at their wonderful best.

The other great off-field enjoyment to be had in Origin is seeing Queensland work its way into a frenzy of pride, chippiness, and vengeance. The Maroons never act like incumbents. Their prevailing attitude is “we’ll show those weak bastards down there that they can’t beat us,” and it just doesn’t matter how many times they win - that’s how they take to the field.

Being a Queenslander is different. I am yet to see a Blues supporter with tattoos of the Harbour Bridge and New South Wales. But I could probably rustle up a dozen Maroons fans with Storey Bridge ink, and QUEENSLANDER scrawled across their backs.

Most of the year, I tootle around Sydney looking and acting pretty much like everyone else. But at Origin time I unleash my lurking Queenslander. I get a little louder, a lot blunter, sport brighter colours, and every now and then I tell the first person I see in authority and a dark suit to go get stuffed in an imaginative way. That’s usually my husband, which I’m sure won’t upset all the frustrated campaigners for a Queensland Origin commentator.

I was very proud of my efforts last year, but when Mal Meninga came out all guns blazing after comprehensively winning the series again and accused the NRL’s suit wearers of having it in for Queensland I had to concede I have a long way to go before I embody the spirit of the Maroons.