When Queensland announced their team for the first game of the State of Origin series, I was one of many who wondered how on earth Billy Slater could be left out of the squad. I was also one of many who didn’t think he would be able to play football again, so my track record hasn’t been good when it comes to predicting Slater’s career.
This time, I’m sure I’m not alone in believing he needs to be picked for Game Two. I’m no coach and certainly not one to tell Kevin Walters how to do his job, but it still doesn’t make any sense to me that he was left out in the first place. With so many champions missing through force, to consciously omit one seems foolish.
Losing the opening game of the series at Suncorp Stadium would be hurting the Maroons and now they walk a fine line between making smart or panicked changes to avoid losing the series in Sydney in a few weeks. But if I were a betting lady my money would be on Slater being there in Game Two.
However, with or without him, I’m just so happy Origin is back. We were treated to a belter of a game on Wednesday night - the kind of contest you should expect at that level. Minimal mistakes, excellent refereeing and two teams going hammer and tong at each other right until the final siren. What a time to be alive!
In the regular competition, it’s hard to believe we’re already at the halfway point of the season. In Big League this week we put together the mid-season review and let me tell you, it was a tough job. We’ve evaluated every team, named their stand out player and where they need to improve heading into the back end of the season. What became abundantly clear is that while there has been so much football played, there is so much yet to come. Anything can happen! There are several genuine premiership chances and all teams have room for improvement or an opportunity to move up the ladder in the second half of the season.
Nothing is settled yet - bring it on!