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Pressure on Carney to deliver

NRL.com Tue, Jun 05, 2012 - 10:04 AM

Todd Carney needs to prove to himself that he can perform on the big occassion, writes Leila McKinnon. Copyright: NRL Photos

So apart from little orphan Annie and her cute but shrill anthem, I thought game one of Origin 2012 went pretty well. It was a close and aggressive match with a good brawl, several exciting tries, and plenty of reasons for the losers to whine about the refs. That’s the Origin we know and love.

So two weeks later what’s up?

The Blues machine is still carrying on about the refereeing to the point where Bill Harrigan is apparently fighting for his job. Come on guys, over the years Queensland has had plenty of reason to be unhappy with Harrigan.

Put it down to what goes around comes around and move on. Who deserved to win game one? You owe it to yourselves to acknowledge that the Blues played well for the first twenty minutes and not much longer, just concentrate on turning 20 into 80.

Until very recently the white noise over the refereeing has protected Todd Carney from being asked any questions about his performance. Ricky Stuart’s backing him into a better game two saying: “He was really nervous, Toddy. He will be a lot better for the run so to speak. All players get nervous before an Origin game.”

If I was a Blues fan I wouldn’t be happy with that explanation. Carney started in first-grade seven years ago. He’s won the Dally M, he’s played in a grand final, and he has played for Australia. As Ricky said ALL players get nervous. Most of the others dealt with it. Carney is one bad game away from becoming that worst thing in Australian sport, a choker.

Greg Bird played well. He was aggressive, consistent and hungry. If his teammates had also nailed those three qualities maybe we wouldn’t still be talking about the refereeing.

But is he a positive role model? A leader? Ricky Stuart thinks so. He said in his Sunday newspaper column that Bird has grown as a man. People can change and I hope Ricky is right, but I wonder how many people in the community would want their daughters to go out with Bird, or their sons to look up to him.

I wouldn’t particularly want to cheer him on, in fact I feel very fortunate that the leader and the inspiration in my team is Petero Civoniceva.

Maroon fans are still recovering from the shock of seeing Billy Slater miss three catches and are reeling from Mal Meninga’s revelation that Slater is human. Apparently he has good days and bad days. This week I guess it was just the Warriors' bad luck that they got him on one of his seeming 364 good days of the year. I can’t imagine him having another bad day on June 13, the Blues – nervous or not - are going to need to dig deep.

Last week I wrote that I am wary of New South Wales at home and all fired up with chippy shoulders, bigger forwards, and a persecution complex to rival anything Mal could generate for his boys.

But amid all the bitching and switching that’s been going on in New South Wales, the Queenslanders and their game plan for Origin two has flown under the radar.

You can bet Mal’s boys won’t be taken by surprise again, either for the first 20 minutes or any part of the game. The Blues are going to need more than new refs, new forwards, or a home crowd to win. Whatever they brought to game one they need to double it. Toddy has every right to be nervous. Let’s see if he can deal with it like a champion.

Follow Leila Mckinnon on twitter: @LeilaMcKinnon

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