Origin needs everything a player can give and more by Tony Currie s we near the representative season, namely State of Origin, there is a clear distinction between the haves and have nots. The Rabbits, Roosters, Storm and Sea Eagles are definitely a cut above the remaining NRL clubs. There are a couple of Teams that could feature and maybe one shooting out of the box but this will depend upon the player selections for Queensland and New South Wales. I have mentioned in earlier columns about how the Season is broken up into three units. You have the start of the season
where all teams are full of promise and expectation. Then comes the Representative season where the performing teams’ players feature heavily in the Origin arena. This allows for teams that have had an unhappy start to the year to post much needed victories against the depleted leaders. Then comes the run home with all teams in contention trying to keep their squads healthy and fit for the finals matches. I find it very strange that NSW coach, Laurie Daley, has chosen to nominate certainties for his Blues team. I can see the positives of Mitchell
Pearce knowing he is a sure thing for the halfback position. This takes pressure off him and gives him confidence to play his natural game. His form of late has justified Laurie’s stance. The same can be said for Jarryd Hayne at Parramatta. The negatives are that injuries can strike these players before selection meaning Laurie Daley must opt for “alternatives”. I have said “alternatives” because this is how the player will feel knowing they were not first choice in the selection room. As we know, Origin football needs everything a player can give and more. Any little weakness is
Queensland’s Justin Hodges makes a break during a State of Origin match. Image supplied
magnified at this level and open for all to see. If the “alternative” player selected does not have the best attitude, he will be found wanting which will seriously damage Daley’s prospects of winning the series. Mal Meninga never mentions certainties but admits to being loyal to a core of players barring injury. The thrill of hearing your name called out for Origin selection is something I hungered for and never took it for granted that I would keep getting picked. That is the Queensland way. They say everything old is new again. The robotic style of the NRL is causing many fans, including me, concern. Coaches are taking the easy option and all are singing from the same hymn book. If we were to ask the average supporter what Rugby League is all about, I bet we would get agreement on: “Skill, Fitness, Speed, Strength, Courage and Attrition”.
Another name for Attrition is Endurance and it is this attribute that has been forgotten in the modern game. At present we have 10 interchanges which have come down from the bad old days of unlimited replacements. The progression and development of players has been astronomical with massive gains in Skill, Fitness, Speed, Strength and Courage. But, we have seen a rapid decline in the endurance levels of players, mainly forwards. There are the Medicos who state that more replacements protect the players but I disagree strongly with their assessment. There needs to be a full investigation into the frequency and type of injury sustained in today’s game compared to the past. Take a look at Cricket and you find that they have an extraordinary amount of injuries compared to the old days when bowlers bowled longer spells. There is tremendous criticism
in regards to Cricket Australia’s rotation policy. Attrition has to be forced on the body and the mind needs to accept the uncomfortable levels of endurance. If I had my way, the interchange would be quickly brought down to 4 only. This would see a transformation of the game where attrition would promote the ability to exploit more defensive lapses due to fatigue meaning a more open and exciting game. The other crucial benefit would be the re-introduction of the smaller man such as the Alfie Langers who could show their wares and skill at tiring big men. As I write this column I keep coming up with other benefits in reducing interchange. Here’s a fantastic one. The downturn in speed of the game will mean the removal of the second referee. Hallelujah!!! But that is for another column.