|Rugby League: Thoughts on State of Origin
||[May. 27th, 2010|12:41 pm]
Steve McNamara did not watch the first State of Origin live, for the good reason that he was preparing his Bradford team for a Challenge Cup semi-final.|
When he does sit down and study it, he will find confirmation of what he already knows, namely that these games are played with an intensity and a level of skill that we are still striving for in this country.
As a positive-minded person, however, he will also be looking for areas that can be exploited come the Four Nations this autumn.
In my unofficial, unpaid role as seeker after reasons to be cheerful, I'd like to suggest the following.
1. Jarryd Hayne is a dazzling attacking full-back, almost but not quite as good as Billy Slater. But played out of position on the wing, he can be caught out defensively.
2. Jamal Idris is the scariest thing with the ball in his hands since Mal Meninga, but he too is subject to defensive uncertainty.
3. Lockyer and Thurston are one of those 'made in heaven' half-back combinations. Any other pairing brings Australia down several notches.
4. They don't have another hooker remotely as good as Cameron Smith.
5. We have two English forwards - Gareth Ellis and Sam Burgess - who are playing at this level week after week and shining. Either one of them would have been worth an Origin jumper, if they had played their first footy in NSW or Queensland rather than West Yorkshire.
I know McNamara is keen to put out his strongest possible side out against France, for one thing to try to match the continuity that Origin gives the Aussies' key combinations.
It should look something like this: Briscoe; Fox, Atkins, Bridge, Hall; S.Tomkins, Eastmond; Morley, Roby, Graham, Ellis, Burgess, O'Loughlin.
Subs: Crabtree, Sinfield, J.Tomkins, Westwood.