Almanac Rugby League – 2018 State of Origin Game 2: comparative modesty abounds

 

In some ways, you’d be flat out knowing that Sunday night’s Game 2 of this year’s Origin series is critical to the future of both teams and their players, even if not their coaches to the same extent. There seems to be a decided (and highly unusual) modesty being displayed by both sides in the lead-up to the match. What’s it all about? But if you think about it, it’s not too hard to work out.

 

The Blues have been here before – one up and everything to play for, home ground advantage and a high expectation of putting the series to bed after just two games. But all too often in the past it has turned to ashes on the field and dismay off the field. Do you remember what happened in the same situation last year and the response of ‘Joey’ Johns – a look of total exasperation and shock, and the words, “NSW just doesn’t get it!” Two weeks ago after Game 1, one of my NSW contacts said to me that he is more nervous now than if NSW had lost Game 1. There’s so much expectation but also so much trepidation/fear because of the ‘we’ve been here before’ scenario. Consequently we’ve heard about Freddie’s ‘new age’ ways, barefoot in the park bonding, even a slight playing down of the expectations because ‘we’ll have to be even better this game because they’ll come back hard at us’. No big mouthing, no Campbell-Gillard going out there to kill them and all that crap. Just gently, gently to try to get the youngsters to hold their collective nerves during the week and then do the business come Sunday.

 

North of the Tweed there’s a certain apprehension. Have we finally come to the end of the dynasty? Is it just too much to overcome the retirements and injuries? Is it expecting just too much to win in Sydney? Or can our boys once again pull it out of the fire? Backs to the wall, that old Queensland siege mentality, recall the heroics of 1995 and all that stuff. There’s certainly not much bravado, little xenophobia and no big boasts. The word seems to be ‘serious’, we’ll work our way through the week with as little fuss as possible and trust that the lads will get the job done because, if they can, then Game 3 at Lang Park will be a whole different ballgame. We’ll keep a lid on it, be serious in our approach and modest in our talk about the game. (That’s one hell of a big ‘if’ in there.)

 

For what it’s worth, I think we’re about to see the pendulum swing towards NSW and I predict them to win by 10+ on Sunday night. I thought it would happen last year and, if you remember Gus’s evaluation at the end of the last series, NSW should have won but didn’t. Back then, however, the Maroons had a few legends in their team who aren’t there now. I just think that the mountains the Maroons have to scale this year (retirements and injuries) are a bit too high. I hope I’m wrong and have to eat humble pie next week.

 

Origin is a different species of game within the world of rugby league. The unusual can and often has happened. There’s a fine line between winning and losing, as someone once said. Let’s see how it pans out.

 

 

Ian Hauser thinks he’s a pragmatist rather than a pessimist, a glass half full rather than half empty type. Whatever, he’s better at playing with words. You can check out his editing services here.

 

About Ian Hauser

A happily retired ex-teacher with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through who looks for those beautiful moments in sport (and life) that capture the spirit rather than the law of the game. Love reading and good wine. I run my own editing service for aspiring writers. Check me out at writerightediting.com.au

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