Tamou bolter for Blues: Alexander
Another State of Origin series approaches and, yet again, we continue to debate who should and shouldn't be picked. This has been going for years now while Queensland sit back and enjoy their usual settled build-up.
People say we should 'stick solid' with our selection process and that's fine if you are winning. But when you've lost six straight series, you have to look at changes and find a team that can win.
For example, let's look at hooker. Do we pick 34-year-old Danny Buderus? He was last in the NSW side back in 2008. And, if we do, what do we do next year ... go back to Michael Ennis?
There are so many positions with so many question marks through form and injury.
To be honest, I struggled to choose my NSW side but here goes:
1. Josh Dugan
2. Akuila Uate
3. Michael Jennings
4. Chris Lawrence
5. Jarryd Hayne
6. Todd Carney
7. Mitchell Pearce
8. Paul Gallen
9. Michael Ennis
10. James Tamou
11. Luke Lewis
12. Beau Scott
13. Anthony Watmough
Bench: Tim Mannah, Kurt Gidley, Tony Williams, Trent Merrin.
Provided he is fit, I will go for Josh Dugan at fullback ahead of Brett Stewart. If both are still hampered by injury, we can always shift Jarryd Hayne back to fullback and elevate Brett Morris onto the wing.
Just two weeks ago I opted for James Maloney as the NSW five-eighth. But since then he has pretty much played his way out of a Blues jumper. His defence has let him down and he missed some terrible one-on-one tackles against Canberra last weekend which led to tries.
Up front I have opted for North Queensland's James Tamou. He is among the most improved players in the NRL. I watched him at this time last year and thought he would struggle to retain his spot in the Cowboys side. The influence of Matt Scott up there though has obviously helped young Tamou. He is a terrific running forward.
He may only be back for one game from suspension but I would rush 'T-Rex' Williams straight into the side. I have no doubt Manly is keeping the big bloke nice and fit while sidelined. Williams has to be there - he is the most damaging forward in the game, he's such a handful.
With Maloney now on the outer, I have gone with Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce as the halves. Those two combined strongly for the Roosters in their 2010 grand final charge. They are mates and have a solid combination.
Choosing Paul Gallen up front allows me to select Luke Lewis, Anthony Watmough and Beau Scott in the back-row.
This side though is far from settled. The debate goes on and Queensland must look at us with a quiet smirk.
The Maroons will be searching for their seventh series win in a row and will start warm favourites
Plenty has been written and said about the shoulder charge this week after Brisbane's Ben Te'o was charged by the NRL match review committee for his heavy hit on Wests Tigers forward Matt Groat.
There have been a few big tackles this year which have evoked plenty of headlines and controversy. Let me state this though: I don't want the shoulder charge to be kicked out of our game. It is a part of rugby league and something that lifts players and the crowd.
I don't think rugby league can afford to lose the collision aspect of our game. That is what sets us apart from rival sports. The NRL thrives on its body contact and the shoulder charge is something that has been around for a hundred years. And it should stay.
But I must emphasise this - the shoulder charge must not be allowed to come into contact with the head of an opposition player. There needs to be a duty of care for the man carrying the ball. The game cannot afford to have star players lying on the ground heavily concussed. Our image is too important and needs protecting.
So while I am against a blanket ban on the shoulder charge, the Te’o case just might reduce the amount of times we see it.
How impressive was South Sydney in the second half of last week's win over Canterbury at ANZ Stadium?
I thought the Rabbitohs' defence was the standout aspect of round six. They kept the Bulldogs to zero in the final 40 minutes - a task difficult to achieve given Canterbury has the likes of Ben Barba and Josh Morris.
Souths finally looked like a top-eight side. If they go on to bigger and better things this year, that second half will be a moment the club looks back on as a turning point.
Souths haven’t struggled to score points for a few years now but for the most gave them up just as easily. Michael Maguire has worked hard on changing that and Good Friday gave us firsthand look at what now is the benchmark for their attitude to defence.
No doubt their forward depth will now be tested with long-term injuries to Roy Asotasi and Sam Burgess but there’s plenty to look forward to if that steely resolve can be part of their weekly effort.