I have grown so out of love with rugby league over the last 5 years. The awful refereeing. The ridiculous off-field player behaviour. The bloody ordinary commentary.
But once a fan of State of Origin then always a fan. I have never failed to watch an Origin game since I can remember. In fact, I still remember walking out of a finance exam at university one Wednesday night to pop into a pub only to witness NSW get thumped by 30+.
And that type of game was a repeat over and over again. For 8 years. Until 2014 – yep we’ve broken the curse. And then surprise, Queensland take another two in a row. And who could have guessed otherwise? Thurston. Slater. Inglis. Smith. Cronk. Boyd. With an ordinary supporting cast you would still back this six to win at least 2 of 3. Meanwhile NSW couldn’t figure out whether they were coming or going. Bad and inconsistent selections have plagued NSW for 10 years – and I can’t help myself but players like Robbie Farah should never have had the right to don a Blues jersey, great club player but not an Origin star. It was laughable for him to make himself available for selection this year.
Origin became boring and predictable. Like the Washington Wizards in the NBA, not even a few full strength schooners helped the embarrassment of being a New South Welshman during the 6 week Origin period.
But alas, 2017 is the year we as New South Welshmen celebrate. Who cares about the above six. Their days are far gone. Enter Fifita, Hayne, Tedesco, Dugan. What a performance by these guys last Wednesday. Watching the game was refreshing. It was as if the Queenslanders did what NSW has been doing for the last decade. Except they weren’t bad – they were just outplayed by a much better team.
I have disliked Fifita and Hayne for years. They are both ordinary players in any sense of the word during the regular season. But boy does Hayne have a sense of occasion. And Fifita finally presented his talent and gave a damn about the outcome. I have also been critical of Tedesco in the past but he also showed his talent.
NSW were quicker, tougher and more confident. I don’t think the return of Thurston, Slater or Inglis will reel back this series for Queensland as long as NSW bring their game to ANZ in Game 2.
Queensland – out-muscled, outplayed. outclassed. 2014 was a fluke but this might become cliche over the next 10 years.