On the Road: Origin's heavy shadow

"No."

With one word, Jarryd Hayne shot down 10,000 stories written by rugby league writers at this time of year.

The Parramatta fullback was asked after starring in a 40-6 Monday night football demoralisation of Cronulla whether there was any substance to the old cliché of players trying harder the week after being omitted from representative teams.

Hayne, of course, is the highest-profile omission from the NSW and Queensland sides who will open the State of Origin series at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

"No."

The shadow of Origin hung heavily over the NRL’s round 11. So heavily that two games – Wests Tigers v Penrith and Sydney Roosters v Newcastle – were described in rather unflattering terms for their entertainment value.

The few constructive observations made related mainly to players left out of rep teams "proving a point" – players like Jamal Idris, Frank Pritchard (brushed by the Kiwis), Ben Barba, Luke Lewis, Robbie Farah and Hayne.

"Jamal, physically, was very good and did a lot of damage to them," said Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore after his side's 20-12 loss at Canberra Stadium on Friday. "Franky nearly turned the game for us.

"I thought he was great and I think he’s been great for us through the whole season pretty much. We’ve been very happy with what he’s been doing."

But the Bulldogs lost anyway and so did Lewis’s Penrith.

According to Hayne, players simply don’t try to prove a point after being snubbed: "I was just thinking about my own game, running the right lines, doing my job."

In the 20-18 win over the Panthers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night, Farah – a contentious NSW omission – was one of the few leading lights.

"Individually we’ve got to look at ourselves but I think collectively as well," said Farah after a dismal team outing.

Lewis – very unlucky to miss the Blues – does seem to be carrying a shoulder injury. His explanation of the problem – "it’s just one of those dead-arms I’ve been getting a fair bit" – played down an injury that was obviously giving him intense pain.

Probably the only match of the weekend played in some sort of isolation from the Origin debate was the Warriors’ 12-6 win over South Sydney at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

It was also the best contest of the weekend – bombed tries and all – but still South Sydney's second rower Dave Taylor had to answer questions about his own snubbing by Queensland.

His stats: 119 metres in 66 minutes and 22 tackles.

On Sunday, unsuccessful NSW halfback candidate Jarrod Mullen was disappointed with his game in the 12-10 loss to the Sydney Roosters at the SFS.

The Newcastle Knight made three errors and three missed tackles opposite selection rival Todd Carney, who made two errors and one missed tackle but ran for only a third of the 63 metres Mullen managed.

If we can’t blame Origin for the performances of those who missed out, can we blame it for the dip of quality in some games?

Were players distracted, disappointed or mentally flat?

Or would it happen in any sporting competition where you removed the 34 best athletes?

We’ll check in with Jarryd for an answer after round 14.