RUGBY league fans completely understood how NSW coach Laurie Daley could call flurry of punches aimed at an opponent’s head as “a great Origin moment”. The army of casual viewers attracted by the game could not. As big as rugby league is in New South Wales and Queensland, Origin reminds us there are sections of society there that complete ignore it most of the time. And they are the people outraged today that you can punch someone in this sport and not be sent off. One or two hundred years from now, society standards will demand fully body contact sport be banned. In the meantime, Origin will become as clean (some would say ‘as sterile’) as club football, then club football will get less and less physical.
2. Seven Years Bad Luck Has Given NSW a Queensland-sized shoulder-chip
QUEENSLANDERS took 70 years to build up enough indignation and anger to make Origin a success. It’s taken their southern cousins seven. The concept was a product of Queenslanders moving to Sydney for money and then playing against Maroons sides chosen on residential ground. But NSW have not just mimicked the inside-ball move that gave Jarryd Hayne his try. They have replicated Queensland’s beaten-dog mentality. Instead of ‘thrashing us with our own players for seven decades’, they have ‘bullying us with their Nate Myleses for seven years’. You can tell when something has been used as a cause celebre by a rugby league team and Nate Myles was it last night.
3. The rules are still different in Origin – but less different
SHAYNE Hayne called for a penalty when the ball was thrown away after a knock on early in the contest – but fellow referee Ashley Klein over-ruled him. In Origin, clearly, you are expected to be more disappointed when you knock-on or cop a forward pass than you are in a club game, and tossing the ball away in disgust is permissible. You can also stiff-arm someone and then punch them without being sent off. But as Cameron Smith lamented, holding opponents down for an eternity seems to be out of vogue. The Queensland captain conceded his team adjusted to the NRL-style rucks in the second half. Logic dictates Origin should, and will, be refereed the same way as club rugby league before long.
4. It’s easier for a hard-working forward to play wounded than a creative back
RYAN Girdler revealed on Triple M early in the second half that NSW back rower Luke Lewis had been bed-ridden for two days with a virus. Lewis, who has also been sidelined with injury in recent weeks, was a colossus. By comparison, Johnathan Thurston seemed severely restricted by an aductor (groin) muscle strain.; he had also suffered from a virus in the build-up. Cameron Smith, who did the goal-kicking in leiu of Thurston, was reportedly battling a knee complaint but was as heavily involved as usual. Conclusion: illness effects the artisan more than the labourer.
5. It’s difficult for Greg Inglis and Billy Slater to both recognise their potential in the same team
BILLY Slater’s attempt to fool the NSW defence late it Origin I by ambling up to the 20 metre line as if he was going to take a tap before shooting off upfield illustrates what a masterful custodian he is. But these days, so is Greg Inglis. The idea that Queensland would somehow have two fullbacks on Wednesday didn’t work and Inglis hardly got his hands on the ball. When he did, he laid on a try for Darius Boyd. One of the biggest challenges for Mal Meninga and Michael Hagan between now and June 26 is figuring out how to get the best out of both of them.
Filed for: THE GUARDIAN