This week in Big League magazine
VERY rarely am I compelled to feel sorry for Queenslanders. They live in a beautiful state, their football team hardly ever seems to lose and they’re never late because they forgot to wind their clocks forward.
But when it comes to debating the selection merits of players for the annual State of Origin showpiece, well that’s something that New South Wales fans have all over their northern neighbours.
Imagine not being able to sit down after four weeks of football and decide who should play in the halves for your state this year? The best Queenslanders can come up with is whether Justin Hodges will be fit, whether Corey Parker should get another run and whether they pick an extra forward or a utility player on the bench.
Blues coach Laurie Daley has said in the past week that there are only a few positions that he is still weighing up but try telling that to NSW fans desperate to see the end of this Maroon tidal wave of Origin destruction.
Even my young bloke has started weighing in on who should get picked, mainly because his favourite player is Nathan Merritt. He has joined a growing chorus of supporters who believe the South Sydney flyer is finally due his recognition.
I’m not sure anyone argues any more that Merritt isn’t deserving, but the problem is that Brett Morris, Akuila Uate and Jarryd Hayne all played Origin last year and all have started the season strongly for their respective clubs.
There are a host of options for NSW in the halves also – particularly at five-eighth – but selectors are faced with a conundrum: Do they stick solid to a combination that has been unable to stem the tide or pick two new blokes and start all over again?
The argument is that if you’re not going forwards, you’re going backwards, but I don’t seem to remember the scatter-gun approach proving particularly effective for any sporting teams over the years either.
It’s all fun debate, and one thing Blues fans can claim over their bitter rivals.
I sincerely hope Daniel Anderson’s search for a solution to the obstruction rule doesn’t result in him one day being found in the far reaches of Rugby League Central in the foetal position begging for the chance to once again coach Parramatta.
Having listened to the debate rage for the past two years my stance is now this: Attacking players should not be allowed to run through the defensive line unless they have a Steeden tucked under their arm or they are chasing a kick downfield.
As soon as attackers enter the line of defence, they are causing some type of interference and defenders will do everything they can to make it look as though they have been prevented from making a try-saving tackle.
It might take some tweaking but to solve the world’s problems we first need to keep teams apart.