Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin 3


byDavid Butler

NSW go into tonight’s State Of Origin decider at Lang Park with a realistic chance of winning the series they have failed to win for the last 5 years.

Even those like myself who have had only a passing interest in Rugby League after having been immersed in it as a kid are interested in what happens tonight. The game tonight will create more interest than the annual Grand Final, because unlike a Grand Final everybody has a team to barrack for tonight.

The NSW press have added a bit of spice to the debate in the past couple of weeks by suggesting that Mal Meninga is a figure head coach. The argument is that Michael Hagan and Neil Henry, both talented coaches themselves, are doing all of the talking. Further, Meninga had no success when he coached the Canberra Raiders on his own, notwithstanding a talented list.

Queensland has a core group of hugely talented individuals including Lockyer, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater who have been combining with each other for a long time. There is an argument that the intuition between these 3 is such that no coaching is required.

NSW on the other hand has been a revolving door of players and coaches as they continue to fall to the might of Queensland. Ricky Stuart, a former teammate of Big Mal’s has tasted premiership success as a coach, albeit with Phil Gould looking over his shoulder. His game plan against the Cane Toads in the second game was to pick a smaller, more mobile side in order to shift play from side to side and tire the Queensland side. It worked, but just like Essendon taking Matty Scarlett out of the play can it work again?

For my tuppence worth I think that the stars of Queensland will rise to the challenge in Darren Lockyer’s last game. And I hate the idea of that !




  1. smokie88 says

    Why did Channel 9 keep repeating the moment of J Thurston’s knee
    bending on an angle that knees are not supposed to ? Ouch !!!!!!!

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    Thanks David. I watched the game, as I have been sporadically for a large number of years, and enjoyed it. It is a great showcase of Rugby League. Just prior I saw the beginning of AFL360 with Mark Robinson and Gerard Whately. They began the show discussing state of origin and asked whether there was any AFL envy at what RL had generated. I agreed with Mark when he said our competition is “too big”. I think he meant it is too big to allow for such a representative competition to be played mid-season. The Thurston knee injury is the epitome. If that had been Travis Cloke… Our supporter allegiances are too highly atuned to our club to celebrate our players playing at representative level. All we are concerned about is their availability to play good football for out team this week. If injury happens within the club or in a match, we can accept it. Other risks – no thanks. For example,I get nervous when Daisy Thomas tweets that he is heading off for a surf.

    I hope Smith doesn’t get suspended and miss any Storm games…

  3. david butler says

    Rugby League fans tend to treat Origin as the main game, therefore they don’t bleat too much when players get injured playing Origin. Remember that neither Mal nor Ricky coach any other side. Ricky gets around $400k a year to be the full-time NSW coach.

    I don’t know the stats comparing injuries between AFL and NRL but there seems to be an acceptance of attrition in the NRL. NRL teams have a lot of back up players in anticipation of injuries during the year, much like the NFL do where the average career of an NFL player is 2,5 years and only marquee players get longer term deals. I agree that if there was a State of Origin in AFL coaches would be hoping that their blokes didn’t get picked, where as with the NRL coaches want their blokes picked.

    I think that Rugby League would wither on the vine without Origin and that the AFL doesn’t need it.

    I agree Smokey that watching a bloke get injured on replay is not needed. I told my daughter to look away but of course that was invitation enough for her. He is a good positive lad Thurston and it is a shame for him but I don’t think his club team were any sort of premiership chance anyway.

  4. Mark Doyle says

    This was a terrific game. Don’t take any notice of comments made by ignorant buffoons such as Mark Robinson and Gerard Whately. There is very little difference in the culture of Rugby League and Aussie Rules – refer the university sociological national study done a few years ago. I am sure NRL coaches and supporters have fingers and toes crossed when rep. footy is played, but still love it. The possibility of injuries is not a reason not to have rep. footy. It is unfortunate that the AFL does not have state of origin rep. footy. I believe that the only way that state of origin can work for the AFL is to have a two week carnival every 2 or 4 years. The states could divide into 2 divisions: Div. 1 – Victoria, South Australia and West Australia; and Div. 2 – NSW, QLD, NT and TAS. Div. 1 teams could play each other once and the top 2 could play in a final. Div. 2 teams to also play each other once and the top 2 to also play in a final. This would mean a maximum of 3 games for the Div. 1 states and 4 games for the Div. 2 states.

  5. Adam Muyt says

    As a cockroach by birth It pains me to say it but Qld were too good. Not only on the night but through the series. When will it end!!!???? A brilliant first half, I thought the final scoreline flattered the Blues – it really felt like a twenty-twenty five point gap was more deserving of the ‘gap’ between the sides. So now it’ll be back to the same old, same old by NSW, desperately seeking a series winning combo. Qld proves its culture and stability, a team ethic combined with playing talent, that wins Origin games.

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