Here we are again, folks. We’re two weeks away from the first game of this year’s State of Origin series and it’s prime time for hot takes.
If you haven’t been on Twitter or watched any rugby league television lately, a hot take is a wild claim made by a commentator; be them pundit or punter. When everyone from your aunt’s next door neighbour to Origin greats are asked for their opinion on teams, coaches, crowds and combinations and they’re given freely. Often without request.
It’s an exciting time similar to the start of the season for all rugby league fans, when you’re full of hope for the year ahead and visualising success is uninhibited by things like injuries and mid-season transfers. These precious few days before the teams are announced are a time for playing armchair coach, which happens to be my very favourite game. It’s also a chance for NSW fans to believe this will be the year Queensland show some weakness. I assume Maroons diehards carry on with their daily lives given they don’t have a lot to worry about.
I know you’re being assaulted with selection talk from every media outlet and vaguely interested relative, but I’m about to do you a favour and add a little more opinion to the melting pot.
You’re welcome, by the way.
I was at the NSW Blues captains call at the beginning of the week and the most notable exception in the room aside from Andrew Johns or Paul Gallen was the skipper for this year’s series and beyond. Obviously, he hasn’t been announced yet. If you believe the talk around rugby league land (and I do), Roosters co-captain Boyd Cordner will become the 19th captain of the state when it’s announced at the True Blue dinner on Monday night.
There are other options of course – Wade Graham and Aaron Woods being the next obvious choices – but Cordner is the smartest and most important selection decision Laurie Daley is likely to make in his time as coach. The consensus around Cordner is clear from former Origin players, current stars and anyone with an appreciation for an earnest toiler. At the age of 24, the big second-rower from Taree is young enough to lead the state for the next 10 years and is capable mentally to do so.
For me, a chat with the great Max Krillich put things into perspective. Krillich, who captained teams from junior football right through to the Kangaroos, admitted he had no trouble giving his teammates a spray if they needed it. But not everyone is like that. One thing a captain must have is respect for his teammates and those around him. The hardest part, he reckons, is knowing when to speak and when to keep your mouth shut. I think we’ve seen enough from Cordner to know that he’s a smart man-manager who is respectful in everything he does.
Laurie Daley said through the week that the captain won’t know he’s got the job until 10 minutes before the team is announced.
Nice try, Laurie. But we’ve seen it coming for a long time.
The Round 11 issue of Big League features stories on Kieran Foran, Brett Morris and why the stats show that Mitchell Pearce and Daly Cherry-Evans are Origin musts and is on sale at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league.