It’s the eve before State of Origin game 1 and I’m perched at my pc, trying to hype up a game which in all likelihood has too much hype already. For the first time in forever the NSW Blues are the defending Origin champs, a state of being which surely won’t last past game 3.
Being a blues fan is at the best of times a miserably optimistic occupation. Unlike our foes north of the border we can’t buy merchandise with impunity, safe in the knowledge that our jersey is almost always guaranteed to be the winning one.
We can’t boast of a legendary team with a freakish spine that despite the onset of middle age is still the outright best playmaking combination in the world. We definitely cannot boast about one of the most prolific winning streaks not just in rugby league but in sport in general.
Yet without NSW there simply would be no Origin. Before the insane run of dominance for the Maroons Origin was a pretty well balanced affair: QLD was dominant in the opening decade of hostilities, before the pendulum swung in the Blues direction, their constant series wins punctuated by the odd Maroons victory. From 1990 to 2005 QLD managed only four series victories, with another two tied and the rest taken by NSW.
From 2006 onwards however QLD instigated a reign of terror against the Blues, which can be attributed to that magical spine of Smith, Lockyer, Thurston and Slater which then morphed into Smith, Cronk, Thurston and Slater. Stir in healthy helpings off a never ending supply of premium forwards and a backline that despite catching the flu before every series still manages to play game 1 and it’s easy to see why the Maroons were unbeatable for eight straight series.
The Maroons have once again rolled out their bullshit claim of underdog status prior to game one, which by about 2009 was starting to get pretty ridiculous. The Blues meanwhile are back to square one with a less than desirable halves pairing and some very odd choices up and down the team list.
Big Three – QLD Maroons
Greg Inglis – Because it’s Greg Inglis dummy. We’re talking about a man who once trampled his way over an unfortunate blues player (Steve Turner) on his way to the try line. As in he actually didn’t stop running when the guy fell down after getting a palm to the chest. (Ed note: Name officially changed to Poor Steve Turner)
Cameron Smith – Still the world’s best rake. Robbie Farah has dreams where he’s Cam Smith, which then morph into nightmares when he wakes up. Smith is one of those guys whose never ending supply of high pressure calm totally infuriates Blues fans. Bastard.
Michael Morgan – Morgan has been carving it up for the Cowboys and has assumed his spot as utility on the Maroons bench. Utility is without a doubt a key Origin role, as many Origin deadlocks are broken through fresh legs and minds.
Big Three – NSW Blues
Trent Hodkinson – Pretty much won the series along with Hayne last year, so yeah, go Hodko! More of those clutch game winning fields goals please!
Aaron Woods – Woods has been a hard running forward for Wests this year, and I’m pretty keen to see him run into equally beefcake forwards at high speeds.
Josh Jackson: Jackson is exactly like Shaun Fensom, except that Jackson gets picked for things. Imagine if you put Jackson and Fensom in the Large Hadron Collider and smushed them together, you’d create possibly one of the greatest locks of all time.
You Wot Mate?
Darius Boyd and Will Hopoate: one has played two club games this year and the other is from a cellar dweller team and is struggling at either fullback or centre. I get that Boyd is part of the fabric of a winning QLD side, but I don’t think that justifies his selection after just two games. The vibe doesn’t feel right: here is a player who at the end of last year was clearly struggling with serious personal matters and subsequent injury, and yet after just two games he’s good enough to play as a state rep? Fast tracked redemption is not always a good thing. Hopoate’s selection is just as mind boggling – Lozza seems to think that nothing has changed in the intervening 12 months, despite the Eels now being last.
QLD enters the stadium inside a giant wooden horse and then proceed to jump out and flog NSW to death. Mitch Pearce is banished from NSW, placed in a row boat and pointed towards New Zealand. The entire Ch9 team contracts the Lyssa virus after an overly keen Fatty Vautin tries to launch a fruit bat as the new team mascot, with the exception of Sterlo who survives because everyone likes him still.