Origin win could open Kangaroos door for Blues
New South Wales hooker Robbie Farah says he hopes a return to the winners' circle for the Blues in Origin can help some of the team's players challenge the incumbency of many of the Maroons stars in the Kangaroos side – but concedes there is probably nothing he can do to unseat Test captain and hooker Cameron Smith.
Farah said players like Smith, playmaker Johnathan Thurston and fullback Billy Slater have had a mortgage on spots in the Australian team and part of that is down to the Maroons' eight-year dominance in State of Origin.
"I'd like to think now that [we've won a series] Haynesy [fullback Jarryd Hayne], the halves and myself can put pressure on those guys," Farah said.
However he conceded that with a preference in the national team to favour incumbents and the Test side's habit of winning most games it plays, it can be very hard to get both in and out of the Australian set-up. He said barring an injury – which he wouldn't wish on anyone – there is little he can do to try and displace Test skipper Smith from the starting hooking role
This is despite the fact Farah is now the Origin-winning hooker and, on paper, the form hooker of the NRL in 2014 by some distance.
Farah has played four fewer NRL games than Smith this year but outscored the Melbourne captain in all key attacking stats: tries (4-1), line breaks (4-2), try assists (6-2), line break assists (8-4), metres per game (110-76) and tackle breaks (25-14).
However he also has more errors (8-2), fewer offloads (18-7) and kicks less than Smith (141 metres per game to Farah's 88) – a testament perhaps to Farah's more flamboyant style versus Smith's more steady and controlling game.
"I think it hurts every time when people say he's a better hooker than me. I've said it before – you might think I'm cocky – but I go out onto the field and I don't believe anyone is better than me. If you do that, the battle is lost already," Farah said, revealing the competitiveness and confidence that drives him.
"He has been regarded as the best in the game for a long time and has a mortgage on the Australian jumper and is captain of the country – for me it's about proving myself every time I play against him.
"I like to think that not only this year but every time I've come up against him at club or at this level, I've shown that he is not better than me. I still believe that. It doesn't change if we've won or not. That's my mindset, whether it's him or anyone else."
Farah said in the past few years he believes he has been playing the best and most consistent football of his career.
"That's something I was criticised for in the past – my flair and some of the options I took. I'd like to think my consistency has improved.
"It's something his whole career he has always been great at. It's one of his traits. I think it's fair to say that I'm probably more extravagant in the way I play. One thing he has been praised for is his calmness and consistency and it's something I continue to work on."
However Farah said there is no personal rivalry between himself and Smith.
"I'm sure if you ask him he'd say the same thing. He's always prided himself on being the best... We're both competitors, we both want to be the best at what we do and that's why we're both playing Origin."
Farah said he has come to terms with the fact he is unlikely to ever be the first hooker picked for Australia, but said he is lucky to have represented his country – an honour that escapes plenty of good players.
"I have come to terms with it, I am lucky to have played for Australia. Some guys never get the chance and I am grateful for the opportunities I've had but I am also realistic and know where I stand and I am fine with that."