Monday 6 April 2009

Draft NSW Origin Side for Game One 2009

NSC's first DRAFT of the possible NSW State of Origin side for Game One of the 2009 Series against Queensland. Dated: Monday April 6 2009. Below is the team I would pick with a mix of some players the NSW Selectors will pick regardless of what I would. So it isn't exactly the side I want but the best possible one that I think they could pick. That being said - you just know they'll pick a team that isn't as good... well potentially as good as this one below. NSW BLUES - GAME ONE 2009 1. Kurt Gidley 2. Josh Morris 3. Matt Cooper 4. Michael Jennings 5. Colin Best 6. Terry Campese 7. Jamie Soward 8. Luke Bailey 9. Robbie Farah (c) 10. Brent Kite 11. Nathan Hindmarsh 12. Luke O'Donnell 13. John Sutton Bench: 14. Feleti Mateo 15. Anthony Laffranchi 16. Craig Wing 17. Paul Gallen Here's the theory behind the team I’ve picked. In the Backs - Gidley is in as Stewart hasn't played and Gidley deserves a shot at Game One at least to see if his numbers in club footy matter at Origin level – plus he’s a goer so that’s a bonus in my books, with no wingers really to pick from, convert two 2009 centres back to the wing with Josh Morris and Colin Best both strike players with the ball and goodish defensively (but seriously wing defence is vastly over-rated if the player is a gun in attack), Jennings and Cooper offer a great mix of attack and defence and the Monaghan/Cooper mix just doesn't scare anyone for mine - Jennings is a x-factor type so he has to get a long look at the selection table. The Halves is where NSW really think about what their playmaking setup will be. Soward's kicking game is a must if NSW take two ballplayers at 6 and 13 – which I think they MUST DO. I don't think Pearce or Wallace have a strong enough playmaking game (as in don’t rely on the kick for all your points) to see NSW pick just one ball player at 6 and a regular forward at 13 and both of their kicking games are vastly over-rated for mine – esp field position wise. So think about what fills a real need and pick Soward for the field position he offers and the nippy speed he has to create opportunities from second phase play - sure he isn't a classic ball player but that's why you have Campese in the #6 and Sutton (or Mateo) in the #13. Both are ‘to the line’ players who will give the ball to their centres and be able to have their running backrowers work off their shoulders on BOTH sides of the field. Plus both Campese and Sutton have size so they aren't liabilities in defence - esp if you pick Soward who is dodgy in that department. In the Forwards - Robbie Farah has to be skipper and the 80 minute hooker. Even if Craig Wing gets a run on the bench (he has so much more value than Luke Lewis who won't have a role off the bench and be just injury cover which is a wasted spot) then Farah has to still be on the field the whole time. Look at last year every time Buderus was replaced NSW lost a step and Buderus is no Farah when it comes to playmaking. And as skipper Farah for mine displays the necessary ‘losing hurts’ feeling after a game and that is the kind of player you get to lead you – one that hates losing – because they don’t tolerate ineptitude. My theory in the forwards is rather than taking a step back in quality in the 17 by picking 3-4 props we should take 2 genuine props - Kite and Bailey who are capable of 55+mins and then fill the rest of the pack with various backrowers. I’m not wild about Kite personally but he’ll get picked and I think he can do a job without looking too much like Michael Vella at Origin level. Laffranchi and Hindmarsh can both play a prop role if required but Hindmarsh has to play 80mins as our answer to their Dallas Johnson/David Stagg - if we don't have a guy like Hindmarsh it won't matter how many flashy running second rowers we have - we'll get beat. Paul Gallen can play a prop like role in the go-forward department and for mine this is his role in Origin - an impact runner up the guts. He loves padding his stats anyway so why not make him into a front rower off the bench and I think we'll get the best value from him that way. And his ability to off-load up the middle might make the likes of Soward and Gidley real dangerous as support players. Luke O'Donnell is made for Origin footy and although he hasn't been in great form so far - he is a must if we are to have guys who will stand up to the QLD pack. He and Hindmarsh have to play the full game too as they’ll annoy QLD all game in different ways. That leaves the forward rotation working around Kite/Bailey and Laffranchi/Gallen which means we won't lose an awful lot when our starting props are on the bench. Then the wildcard is Mateo - play him anywhere but give him a chance in both halves to come on and try something. He's shown a willingness to defend a lot more in 2009 and do some grunt work so he won't be a liability if an attacking role isn't available for him. And Wing is another key off the bench - his two games for Souths have been dynamic - he is a quality player who knows what to do coming off the bench which is HUGE at Origin level. We can't pick a relative rookie in the utility spot it is a waste since they won't get much game time and probably float a bit without a defined role. Wing can and will do the job. Those who just missed out include: R Hoffman, M Weyman, C Heighington, L Stuart, L Douglas, G Stewart, J Monaghan. Hoffman has been poor in 2009 - not sure what it is but he doesn't have 'it' so far in 2009 coming back from a long term injury could be the reason, Weyman has done well for a month - love him as a player but don't think it is quite time for him to surpass Bailey and Kite yet – or a better backrower, Heighington and Stewart had brilliant 2008s but have been so so in 2009 and will struggle to get ahead of those already picked (unless the selectors continue their Hindmarsh-hate one might get in), Luke Stuart and Luke Douglas would both do a fine job as the 3rd prop but the selectors seem to want to pick flashy big name types rather than guys who can do the job consistently so they'll miss out, and I think Monaghan doesn't offer enough 'on the ground' to keep out Jennings or Morris who are weapons running the ball and Hayne to me looks like a classic case of a player playing league because he’s good at it rather than because he loves it – no room in Origin for that kind of player for mine. And if Cooper plays there's the defensive centre taken care of. Of course there’s other halfbacks to choose from (Pearce, Wallace, Orford, Finch and Mullen) and I can’t see Barret or Anasta getting a run this year. So there’s my 2009 NSW Side… I think it can beat QLD’s version and reclaim that shield which is rightfully ours!