Infotainment Factory: The unluckiest man in State of Origin

Trending

>

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The unluckiest man in State of Origin


//

Brad Fittler's plans for Origin leading in to game I on June 5 were thrown into disarray with several injuries giving the Blues coach several selection headaches.

Yet the general consensus after the announcement is that Fittler picked the right team to tackle Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, even though there were several contentious decisions that could have gone either way.

Regardless, there were a few players who were lucky to get the nod, while there were more than just a few who were hard done by through the selections made by Fittler and his team of advisers.

WINNERS

Nathan Cleary

Cleary has been struggling all year behind a Panthers' forward pack that hasn't given the 20-year-old much to work off, with the Penrith side sitting second-last in the competition. It was thought Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce were in front of Cleary heading into round 11 but the Panthers star got lucky with all the halves in contention falling to injury days before the team was announced. Origin is hardly the place to find form even though the incumbent will be surrounded by the best forwards in the state who should be able to put him in good position to attack. NSW coach Brad Fittler had reportedly been set to retain Cleary anyway, intent on honouring a pact with Phil Gould that the young No.7 be given a sustained opportunity to succeed in Origin. Cleary will go into the match off the back of an MOM performance under his belt against Parramatta on Thursday night and his game plan will be simple - kick well and tackle. Cleary went into last year's series with a bit of a safety blanket by having his club halves partner, James Maloney, in the team alongside him to make the transition into Origin football a bit smoother. This year the training wheels are off with Maloney not included in the side and he'll have to navigate his way around the high-pressure moments on his own this year.

Angus Crichton

The Roosters' Crichton edged out St George Illawarra's Tariq Sims for a spot on the bench and some may have seen that as a bit of surprise considering Crichton spent time as a substitute to start the year for the tri-colours due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. Crichton made his representative debut for the Blues in 2018 and played all three State Of Origin matches from the bench. Last year Crichton was one of the form players of the competition and showed he wasn't out of place in Origin. He’s played well for the Roosters but hasn't been a stand out like last year. We'll see if that drop in form will have an impact at the next level, although his responsibilities will be different to his role at the Roosters.

Cody Walker

A much deserved promotion for Walker, who’s been the form player of the competition. He leads the NRL with 11 tries for the season and has just as many try-assists to go with with his 15 linebreak assists, 38 tackle busts, and eight linebreaks. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with Cleary in the halves with both players never having played alongside one another, but their styles could complement each other depending on how Fittler wants to play.

Payne Haas

His NRL career might only be 10 games old but the 19-year-old has more than proven he's ready to be elevated to Origin level. What makes his inclusion even more fascinating is that he was suspended for the first four games this year. He made over 200 running metres in consecutive weeks leading into selection and will become the least experienced Origin player to take the field since Ben Ikin made his debut for the Maroons in 1995.

Nick Cotric

The Raiders winger has been impressive over the last two years and has been earmarked for selection ever since coming into grade. His penchant for scoring tries is well known all over the league, with the flyer crossing the line 30 times in 58 games during his short NRL career. He plays physical and has a big frame that the Blues will need to get them out of their own red zone from kick returns and he also has the speed to break open the defence in the middle of the park.

Josh Morris

The Sharks veteran was said to be finished with Origin after his last appearance in 2016 but he's been brought back into the picture off the back of some solid performances for the Sharks. With James Roberts' form and injury issues, the 32-year-old has the opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past in the Origin arena.

LOSERS

Adam Reynolds

Reynolds was in line to take the field alongside teammate Cody Walker after both players were integral in setting up Souths' 10-1 start to the year. Reynolds has featured in Origin before, playing in the first two games of the 2016 series but this time he would've gone into the interstate series with a rich vein of form and with Walker but it wasn't to be due to a leg injury he suffered against the Tigers on Saturday night. Fittler said he would have gone with Reynolds-Walker combination, but the knee injury swung the decision in favour of Cleary. “I think the fact Adam went down and is going to be out for a couple of days (worked against him)," Fittler said. “That combination with Cody Walker could have been valuable but the cards just fell the way they did and Nathan got the shot." Extremely unlucky.

Luke Keary

The 2018 Clive Churchill Medallist was considered a lock for a position in the halves but another concussion saw Fittler put a line through his name for precationary reasons. His latest concussion comes five weeks after also being forced to miss the club's traditional Anzac Day clash due to a head knock. Keary led the competition in try assists over the opening 11 rounds and will no doubt be up for selection in game two if Cleary and Walker can't get the job done in game one.

Tariq Sims

Sims played for the Blues in last year's series but a mixed start to the year by the Dragons has seen the solid performer cop the axe. Rookies like Cameron Murray and Haas have been rewarded for their form this year and it will be even more difficult to crack into the squad if the Blues get some punch off the bench. However, Origin is brutal and he's still a chance to get a run if NSW experience injuries.

Dale Finucane

Finucane, 27, is in career-best form at the Storm this year averaging 115m and 31 tackles a game. In a cruel blow for Funicane, the under-rated back-rower failed his HIA in the clash with the Bulldogs on Sunday and was denied one last chance to press his claims for an Origin call-up. Leading into the Bulldogs game, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he'd be surprised if wasn't picked. “I can’t see how they can leave him out,” Bellamy said. “I’ll be very disappointed for him if he doesn’t get picked.” Well Finucane was left out again and some might say he should've taken Crichton's spot on the bench.

Brad Fittler's plans for Origin leading in to game I on June 5 were thrown into disarray with several injuries giving the Blues coach several selection headaches.

Yet the general consensus after the announcement is that Fittler picked the right team to tackle Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, even though there were several contentious decisions that could have gone either way.

Regardless, there were a few players who were lucky to get the nod, while there were more than just a few who were hard done by through the selections made by Fittler and his team of advisers.

WINNERS

Nathan Cleary

Cleary has been struggling all year behind a Panthers' forward pack that hasn't given the 20-year-old much to work off, with the Penrith side sitting second-last in the competition. It was thought Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce were in front of Cleary heading into round 11 but the Panthers star got lucky with all the halves in contention falling to injury days before the team was announced. Origin is hardly the place to find form even though the incumbent will be surrounded by the best forwards in the state who should be able to put him in good position to attack. NSW coach Brad Fittler had reportedly been set to retain Cleary anyway, intent on honouring a pact with Phil Gould that the young No.7 be given a sustained opportunity to succeed in Origin. Cleary will go into the match off the back of an MOM performance under his belt against Parramatta on Thursday night and his game plan will be simple - kick well and tackle. Cleary went into last year's series with a bit of a safety blanket by having his club halves partner, James Maloney, in the team alongside him to make the transition into Origin football a bit smoother. This year the training wheels are off with Maloney not included in the side and he'll have to navigate his way around the high-pressure moments on his own this year.

Angus Crichton

The Roosters' Crichton edged out St George Illawarra's Tariq Sims for a spot on the bench and some may have seen that as a bit of surprise considering Crichton spent time as a substitute to start the year for the tri-colours due to his recovery from shoulder surgery. Crichton made his representative debut for the Blues in 2018 and played all three State Of Origin matches from the bench. Last year Crichton was one of the form players of the competition and showed he wasn't out of place in Origin. He’s played well for the Roosters but hasn't been a stand out like last year. We'll see if that drop in form will have an impact at the next level, although his responsibilities will be different to his role at the Roosters.

Cody Walker

A much deserved promotion for Walker, who’s been the form player of the competition. He leads the NRL with 11 tries for the season and has just as many try-assists to go with with his 15 linebreak assists, 38 tackle busts, and eight linebreaks. It will be interesting to see how he meshes with Cleary in the halves with both players never having played alongside one another, but their styles could complement each other depending on how Fittler wants to play.

Payne Haas

His NRL career might only be 10 games old but the 19-year-old has more than proven he's ready to be elevated to Origin level. What makes his inclusion even more fascinating is that he was suspended for the first four games this year. He made over 200 running metres in consecutive weeks leading into selection and will become the least experienced Origin player to take the field since Ben Ikin made his debut for the Maroons in 1995.

Nick Cotric

The Raiders winger has been impressive over the last two years and has been earmarked for selection ever since coming into grade. His penchant for scoring tries is well known all over the league, with the flyer crossing the line 30 times in 58 games during his short NRL career. He plays physical and has a big frame that the Blues will need to get them out of their own red zone from kick returns and he also has the speed to break open the defence in the middle of the park.

Josh Morris

The Sharks veteran was said to be finished with Origin after his last appearance in 2016 but he's been brought back into the picture off the back of some solid performances for the Sharks. With James Roberts' form and injury issues, the 32-year-old has the opportunity to right some of the wrongs of the past in the Origin arena.

LOSERS

Adam Reynolds

Reynolds was in line to take the field alongside teammate Cody Walker after both players were integral in setting up Souths' 10-1 start to the year. Reynolds has featured in Origin before, playing in the first two games of the 2016 series but this time he would've gone into the interstate series with a rich vein of form and with Walker but it wasn't to be due to a leg injury he suffered against the Tigers on Saturday night. Fittler said he would have gone with Reynolds-Walker combination, but the knee injury swung the decision in favour of Cleary. “I think the fact Adam went down and is going to be out for a couple of days (worked against him)," Fittler said. “That combination with Cody Walker could have been valuable but the cards just fell the way they did and Nathan got the shot." Extremely unlucky.

Luke Keary

The 2018 Clive Churchill Medallist was considered a lock for a position in the halves but another concussion saw Fittler put a line through his name for precationary reasons. His latest concussion comes five weeks after also being forced to miss the club's traditional Anzac Day clash due to a head knock. Keary led the competition in try assists over the opening 11 rounds and will no doubt be up for selection in game two if Cleary and Walker can't get the job done in game one.

Tariq Sims

Sims played for the Blues in last year's series but a mixed start to the year by the Dragons has seen the solid performer cop the axe. Rookies like Cameron Murray and Haas have been rewarded for their form this year and it will be even more difficult to crack into the squad if the Blues get some punch off the bench. However, Origin is brutal and he's still a chance to get a run if NSW experience injuries.

Dale Finucane

Finucane, 27, is in career-best form at the Storm this year averaging 115m and 31 tackles a game. In a cruel blow for Funicane, the under-rated back-rower failed his HIA in the clash with the Bulldogs on Sunday and was denied one last chance to press his claims for an Origin call-up. Leading into the Bulldogs game, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he'd be surprised if wasn't picked. “I can’t see how they can leave him out,” Bellamy said. “I’ll be very disappointed for him if he doesn’t get picked.” Well Finucane was left out again and some might say he should've taken Crichton's spot on the bench.

http://bit.ly/2Xetm0d
//

No comments:

Post a Comment