I have been pretty damn quiet on this blog lately.
Admittedly, the urge to blog has been surpassed by Twittering, playing silly Facebook games or playing with LaLa and the kids.
But, when State of Origin time comes around, it’s time to wake the sleeping giant.
The team for Origin I was named tonight, and for the first time in a while, I am really excited by the team.
Ever since I was in the USA for the 2006 series, I have felt like I’ve missed the blooding of new players and haven’t had my finger on the pulse of the future of the game. Finally, this season, I feel like I have seen enough and read enough to be more interested and able to comment on the players that have been picked.
Besides, I am going up to Sydney for Game 2 which will be my first EVER Origin game.
So here goes…
- Kurt Gidley (c) – He’s taken over from former teammate and Blues captain, ‘Bedsy’ Buderus, and he’s been a consistant performed for the Knights for years. For a while he’d seemed like the shining light in a lame team, but now that the Knights are actually performing, it’s good to see him still get this gig.
- Jarryd Hayne – I am undeniable biased, but I am so glad that Haynesy has nabbed a winger spot. He has been playing out of his skin the last few weeks at Fullback for the Eels and he has proved his freakiness with some fantastic efforts in past Origins. He will definitely not disappoint on the big stage.
- Jamie Lyon – As an Eels fan, I am predisposed to hating Jamie Lyon and what he did to our team when he walked out on us all those years ago. His determination to avoid representative football has alsmost not helped him in winning fans other than those from Manly. But it’s unanimous, he is the best centre in the world, and has been ever since those days of running around for the Eels. Let’s just hope he gives it his all against the Maroons.
- Michael Jennings – Admittedly, I haven’t watched many Panthers games this year, but all you need to have seen is the highlight reels to know that Michael Jennings is worthy of this spot. He could be the excitement machine that the Blues need to get us over the line. He’s strong, fast and skillful and I can’t wait to see what he can do against the all-star cane toad backline
- James McManus – Surprised? I am. He is one plyaer that seems to have come out of nowhere to snag a wing spot, but the selectors have definitely gone for form over reputation this year. Gone are the Matt Kings and Luke Rooneys, it’s time for a new generation in wingers.
- Terry Campese – This was one of the highly contested positions, but I think Campese was a shoo-in. Even if the Raiders have been pretty ordinary in the last couple of months, he’s a specialist 5/8 and has shown glimpses of the skill that he has (especially with that banana kick half volley on the weekend). Mullen was a possibility, but I’m glad the selectors have looked forward and given a chance to a player that could be in the Blue jumper for a long time to come
- Peter Wallace – Look. I am not a huge fan of Wallace. I thought he was too young and inexperienced for Origin last year and I still think the same. Problem is, what other halfbacks do the Blues have to chose from? I’d go as far as to say that Brett Finch or Kimmorley should be halfback instead of Wallace, but it seems that the selectors are making every effort to look to the future. He does get the job done well for the Broncos though and maybe he can provide the Blues with some inner secrets to his Bronco teammates. If he does, he’s worth his weight in gold.
- Brent Kite – I feel that Kite is here by default. He has a proven track record in representative matches, and even if he doesn’t set the world on fire week to week, he’s done enough to keep his place. I am not a massive fan, but if this Queanbeyan boy has a big game he’s very hard to stop. I just hope he decides to have an ‘on’ game next Wednesday.
- Robbie Farah – As much as I hate to admit it to my Tiger’s supporting mate, Farah is easily the best hooker in the game. He has been for years, even when Buderus was hooker and captain of the Blues. Finally Farah gets a chance to show us his stuff at State level and he’ll probably make it on the boat to England at the end of the year as well. Looking forward to seeing his lethal darts from dummy half and bullet passes when we cross for many tries in this series
- Luke Bailey – Like Kite, Bailey was a certainty for the other Front Row position. Even if we have a relatively inexperienced team around them, it’s nice to know that the front rowers are experienced and reliable. I have always liked Bailey and he is very solid up front with the bonus of some ball playing skills.
- Ben Creagh – It’s taken a while for me to accept that Hindmarsh is no longer a representative player. I thought that he should have been picked for last years series, but now I understand that he has to make way for the new breed of back rower. Ben Creagh is definitely a player that shows what 2nd rowers should be doing nowadays. Running hard, offloading and tackling well out wide. He’s a class act.
- Luke O’Donnell – O’Donnell is one of those players that I have liked for ages but has never seemed to reach his full potential. His name doesn’t seem to go away though and even at 28 he’s got what it takes at this level. This might be his last chance to prove himself and he’s not guaranteed to be in the Kangaroo tour later this year. Mind you, he’s also not guaranteed to be in Game 2. A lot at stake for him.
- Paul Gallen – Gallen gets the Lock spot, because, really, who else is there? I think he’s a total tool of a person, but he’s a strong and gutsy player who probably deserves to be there even if he is playing in a club team that have looked more likely to win the spoon than win anything else this season. He’ll play his heart out for his state and that’s the main thing
- Craig Wing – Mr. Utility is there to cover up for the injuries that WILL happen. It’s inevitable. Farah, Wallace or Campese could slip on the Etihad Stadium surface and Craig Wing will be there to mop up. He does it well though, even if he will never be the force that he could have been.
- Justin Poore – This debutant will be playing his first Origin, but most definitely not his last. He’s been playing out of his skin for the Dragons this season, and there’s every chance he’ll be moving to the Eels or Sharks in the near future. I would like to see him make an impact in this game, but it’ll be tough when you’re running towards Civoniceva.
- Glenn Stewart/Luke Lewis (18th man) – Stewart probably won’t play because he is facing a ‘dangerous throw’ charge from the weekend, so let’s assume that Luke Lewis replcaes him on the bench. I would much rather this anyway because I think Lewis is a freaking champion and deserves to be in the squad. For all I care Stewart can go and hang out with his brother on the sideline for the rest of his life..
- Michael Weyman – The other big prop from the Dragons has been setting the world on fire with his powerful running this season. After barely striking a match at the Raiders he’s made a big turn around to get into the Origin team. He’s got a spot that not so long ago Willie (who?) Mason would have held, so he’s gonna wanna go better than him. But hey, that’s not too hard.
So there we have it. My thoughts on the Origin team.
Face it. We HAVE to win this year, otherwise the nasty toads from up north win 4 series in a row. We can’t allow that.
Don’t talk to me on Wednesday week if we lose the first game. I desperately want us to wrap up the series when I see them for Game II in Sydney.