State of Origin Preview


Digital Image by Grant Trouville Action Photographics
Digital Image by Grant Trouville Action Photographics

State of Origin 2

I have a strong feel that Queensland will win tonight’s big one. Why? The Footy Gods seem to have a big say in these games. And the Footy Gods like a third and decider don’t they. But there are some pure footy reasons too.

Probably because I think this match will be a BIGGER one than the first. Certainly it should be for the Maroons. None of those seemingly perpetual winners who have been part of those seven years of back to back series wins will want to be a part of the team that LOST it. Fear of losing is a massive motivating tool for most top level performers. It draws an intensity and execution level out of them that only the truly greats can manufacture.

I recall Dean Pay waiting for me to finish a halftime “Let’s do this and this” tactical tips to my Parra crew in a playoff match versus the Bears in the late 90s. What he said after I left the room apparently was more physical based in what was going to happen when they chased the first kick off. I didn’t hear it but it was something like “if we don’t get stuck into these blokes our season is over! Crackers I am going to smash the bloke carrying it back are you with me?”  Rhetorical really. McCracken was always with Deano when the physical intensity went from average to intimidating. It was brutal and the Bears went from in charge to in trouble very quickly. A couple of champions leading the way made all the difference and suddenly the blue and golds were all over their back-pedalling opponents. We won.

Importantly to be very ready the key Qld guys have had BETTER match prep for this BIGGER game. Cameron Smith played his best game for a long time when the Storm dealt with Newcastle in his last match.  He ran every play and toyed with the opposition. And did you see Jonathan Thurston rip and tear versus the Drags in his last preparation for this vital match. Both of them are undeniable champions who wouldn’t have needed any prodding to hit their straps to restore confidence in themselves and team mates. It sure impressed me.

There are question marks for me over Dugan’s ability to sustain the enormous pressure he will likely be subjected to. His season prep is right out of the bottom draw and if the tabloid journo who leads the field in scandal is right his recent prep is more suited to the cowboy drinking and fishing fraternity. I don’t think the serious members of that fraternity would rate him highly either. Why do these guys keep getting legged up when their actions are the exact opposite of what we propose is the standard of professional footy players.

My concerns on Aaron Woods making such a pressured debut are real. He will no doubt give it everything and I am sure he has been a great part of the build-up as most dedicated young guys in our game would. I just don’t feel his defence is up to this standard. His marker defence and his left shoulder tackles are sure to be tested. Surely the Qld coaches and senior players haven’t missed this as a “go to” weakness to be exploited at every opportunity.

And finally I reckon Greg Inglis might have needed a practice at centre after all this time at full back for the Rabbits. I just can’t believe he will need two shots of practice! NSW right side, with Josh Morris playing on his “wrong side” will be sorely tested too I reckon. The monster from “Bowraville, Qld” can’t be that quiet for consecutive matches.

It’s going to be great to watch a game of footy with so much at stake for all concerned.

And then there was THREE!