Thursday 20 June 2013

#Origin 2013: QLD v NSW Game 2 Team Analysis - What's doing QLD? #StateofOrigin

Origin 2 Squads for June 26 in Brisbane

2013 NRL Premiership

By W D Nicolson - June 20, 2013

A man walks into a bar...

Was it Blake, Josh, George or Mal?

Okay admittedly that's the first joke I've written in a very long time... that is actually half decent. So forgive me for leading the Game 2 Team Analysis with it.

Here are my thoughts on the teams picked for Game 2... prepare yourself, it isn't a big bouquet of rosy endorsements.

2013 State of Origin Schedule
Game 1: NSW 14 def. QLD 6 at ANZ Stadium, Sydney – June 5
Game 2: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane – June 26
Game 3: ANZ Stadium, Sydney – July 17

Analysis: Where have all the front rowers gone?

QLD's greatest strength through their streak (after the fact they've got 6 or 7 uberstars) has been their prop rotation and due to injury and retirement they went into Game 1 without Ben Hannant and Petero Civoniceva from the 2012 series... and got beaten in the middle.
So instead of bolstering Matthew Scott and David Shillington with another prop or two - they dropped Shillington for a backrower (admittedly a handy one in Josh Papalii) and replaced another forward - Ashley Harrison with a halfback in Daly Cherry-Evans.

What's doing QLD?

Are you scared that NSW's somewhat mobile team has the right formula?
Well you shouldn't be.
Game 1 was NSW's for two reasons: 1. NSW won the ruck emphatically in the 1st half, and 2. QLD's superstars weren't allowed to get into the game as a result.
So why wouldn't you pick a team that can wrest some dominance back in the middle and let your superstars have more than a couple of chances in Game 2?

Evidently - that's not the plan.

Starting Chris McQueen works into the Blues' hands - he's a solid first grader but nothing more, and moving Nate Myles into the front row only makes sense if you've got big bodies to rotate into replace him when he goes off (otherwise play him for big minutes in the backrow - ala Sam Thaiday). Given Shillington and now Hannant are fit - surely there was room for at least one of them on the bench?

Because NSW actually picked MORE props in Game 1 than they have in the last few series - so they've actually made an effort to make inroads up front more so than add mobility on the edge (which they already had in spades).
The NSW forward pack might have lost James Tamou to idiocy but they added a very handy footballer in Aaron Woods - who brings both mobility and size to the NSW pack.

So what are QLD doing?

Hopefully Mal knows... because as great as their stars are - and they are truly great - they need massive games from Scott, Thaiday, Myles and the newly promoted to lock Corey Parker (where he'll play big minutes in tight) to counter NSW's forwards.

As for the bench - look Papalii is a weapon who needs minutes to target his defender to run at and wear down... so good luck with that QLD. DCE is a quality player who might play 10 minutes if he's lucky, while Matt Gillett is probably the x-factor on the bench but needs to see the game in the 1st half to use his footwork against tired forwards. Ben Te'o will spend time as a prop it appears... as it is the only way he gets significant minutes if QLD are able to give Gillett/Papalii decent minutes.

Bottom line: This is still a collection of brilliant players and I certainly favour QLD significantly in Game 2 - but this isn't an lineup that makes you quake in fear... well apart from the #1, #3, #4, #6, #7 and #9.

1. Billy SLATER
2. Darius BOYD
3. Greg INGLIS
4. Justin HODGES
5. Brent TATE
6. Johnathan THURSTON
7. Cooper CRONK
8. Matthew SCOTT
9. Cameron SMITH (c)
10. Nate MYLES
11. Chris McQUEEN
13. Corey PARKER
15. Ben TE'O
16. Matt GILLETT
17. Josh PAPALII
18. Jacob LILLYMAN (replacing Martin KENNEDY - injured)

Analysis: Well picking Dugan worked out well didn't it?

Look Josh Dugan might play extremely well next Wednesday night but NSW hierarchy are on the good stuff (topically of course) if they thought giving Dugan an Origin reprieve so early after being sacked by his club team was a good idea.

First it is the message it re-enforces to any player in the game - you can stuff up as much as you like if you are good enough at footy - and secondly, it saw Dugan and Blake Ferguson reunited.

Now what Ferguson did or didn't do isn't the point in regards to NSW team selection - he's already paying for his idiocy but purely from a footballing point of view - how does Dugan fit into NSW's structure from Game 1?

He is a wildly talented runner of the ball... but he's not a support player or a link man in the backline - the two things that NSW knew they'd get from Jarryd Hayne pre-injury. I've been calling for multiple playmakers in the NSW lineup for years and sadly injury has got in the way of the best group of playmakers NSW has fielded in over half a decade... yes Hayne was ruled out with a hamstring strain but Dugan is a square peg in the round hold Hayne leaves. Dugan is a great individual talent, but NSW need to be the cohesive unit they were in Game 1 to get close to a fired-up and refocussed QLD in Game 2. Dugan just isn't a guy who can play a role to fit around a team, he'll play his own game and if it helps win the game - that's a bonus for the Blues.

BUT - and I emphasise that word - but Dugan could still be part of a NSW win in Game 2.

He might play wonderfully, he could be the game-breaker when the game is there to be won... but Hayne should be walking straight back into the #1 jersey in three weeks time.

Anyhoo - Dugan gets the job and I do actually hope he plays well regardless of what I've written above, and a player who might have been a better fit in the #1 jersey in Nathan Merritt gets his shot at the big time thanks to Ferguson's departure. Merritt's game is two fold: Support play and finishing ability. If he's not called on to do too much grunt work or defend odd man rushes (does any winger thrive in that situation?) and gets his hands on the ball in decent attacking situations - NSW are on a winner at winger. Admittedly it seemed that way with Ferguson in the #5 as well didn't it?

Up front it is great to see Aaron Woods rewarded with a NSW jersey - he'll fit in beautifully to the NSW front row and playing alongside Robbie Farah is a massive boost to the NSW hooker, particularly defensively.

So to sum up: Dugan, Woods and Merritt come in for Hayne, Tamou and Ferguson. That's three changes - all forced, that you'd prefer not to have to make after winning Game 1 so convincingly.

The addition of another prop for Tamou is logical... now let's see if QLD's approach (above) plays into the Blues' hands.

Bottom Line: This team is good enough to win Game 2 and incredibly, the series. But QLD's side is better let's not be too misguided by their forward changes... so NSW need to play even better than they did in Game 1 to win (hard to do without Hayne). But hopefully without any further 'do you know who I am moments', let's see what next Wednesday brings....

1. Josh DUGAN
2. Brett MORRIS
3. Michael JENNINGS
4. Josh MORRIS
5. Nathan MERRITT
6. James MALONEY
7. Mitchell PEARCE
8. Paul GALLEN (c)
9. Robbie FARAH
10. Aaron WOODS
11. Ryan HOFFMAN
12. Luke LEWIS
13. Greg BIRD
14. Andrew FIFITA

15. Trent MERRIN
17. Anthony WATMOUGH
18. TBA

Right now if pushed for a Tip: I really like QLD... 
Will NSW miss Hayne too much to take the Series in 2 games? Or have QLD missed a trick downsizing for Game 2?
Comment below or by replying on Twitter.
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