Thursday, 14 June 2012

Mad Monday - Picking Favourites (2012)

Every year in the lead up to the first State of Origin game, fans, commentators, coaches, player past and present, dogs, cats and who knows what else all throw in their two bobs worth of opinion of who should be selected for the two sides.

The last decade has seen this become more heavily focused on the New South Wales squad, and for good reason, they've been outclassed for nigh on a decade by the Queenslanders.

The most contentious argument of player selection surrounds form vs incumbency. Should out of form players who played Origin the previous year be the obvious first up choice for the current year? It’s a romantic concept to show loyalty to a player, but professional Rugby League is no place for Mills and Boon. Loyalty doesn't win you games.

Last night Ricky Stuart named his New South Wales Origin side for Game 1 of the series. In his squad were 7 players from teams not in the top 8. The two highest ranked Sydney clubs on the premiership table (Cronulla and Manly) provide 6 players, while the clearly 4 worst teams in the competition (Parramatta, Gold Coast, Penrith and Tigers) contribute 5 players.

It is about time that this romanticism is ended and players are picked on form. New South Wales is trying to create some sort of loyalty based culture at origin level because they've seen it apparently work so well for Queensland.

Here's the thing though, Queensland have very rarely picked an out of form player, the fact that their squads remain largely unchanged over the years is evidence that the players they pick are elite, their form and ability sees the side pick itself.

Blues team management stupidly thinks its loyalty Queensland is showing to its players. Idiots.
A one man team won't make its way to the top of the ladder; it’s a team of good players in form that see themselves at the top of the table.

So I hereby present my two bobs worth. A NSW team with players from teams in the top 8 only.

1 - B.Stewart
2 - B.Morris
3 - J.Morris
4 - M.King
5 - N.Merritt
6 - T.Carney
7 - J.Robson
8 - B.Gibbs
9 - I.DeGois
10 - A.Watmough
11 - T.Williams
12 - G.Stewart
13 - P.Gallen (c)
14 - B.Creagh
15 - M.Weyman
16 - T.Sims
17 - J.Reynolds

Players in successful teams are much more likely to be in a winning frame of mind, confident and in good form then players in teams performing badly.

This year the vast majority of Queensland’s origin players will come from 3 of the 4 teams in the top 4.

They will all be confident, in top form and ready to win.

Instead Stuart has opted to go with 7 blokes playing in teams that are putting in inept performances pretty much every week and losing much more than winning (or winning unconvincingly).

Its high time players in good form and in good performing teams get selected instead of the same tired old names that get brought up every year who have clearly been playing like crap.

Criticise me now, but my words will seem almost prophetic after NSW lose Origin 1 and look set to make umpteen changes once again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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