By Guest Writer Stephen Gallagher
As a passionate New South Wales supporter, I have found the last six years to be extremely tough! 2005 the last time we won a State of Origin title, it was also my first year of high school. 2005 was also the year Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, only four Harry Potter films had been released and Crazy Frog was an annoying hit on the radio.
Fast forward to 2012 – It’s going to be everything you want it to be. The lead up has been going since the NRL’s first round and all this talk has finally turned in to action. New South Wales coached by Ricky Stuart once again have all the headlines in the media. Watmough not picked due to injury yet played for Manly. Tony Williams being selected despite a 7 week suspension he served and Michael Jennings being plucked from Penrith’s feeder team in the New South Wales Cup.
Of course Queensland have gone under the radar. A side spectacular from 1-17. A side that has done the job many a time. Experience, toughness, finesse. Everything the Canetoad fans could want they’ve got. Mel Meninga was a brilliant player, and it seems what he offered as a leader in his playing days has transferred successfully as a full time State of Origin coach. A new era of sorts for the Canetoads. The first time in a long time that Darren Lockyer will not play any part in this series. No slouch in a replacement, as Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston partner up to give New South Wales all hell.
This could be the start of a new era for the Sky Blue boys. A side that has the means to break the shackles of defeat. A side that can hold their weight in this all out war. The Blues need to come out of the blocks at full speed. A slow start has cost them big time before. To turn around their fortunes, look out for the fighting spirit to return. Paul Gallen and Glenn Stewart will be leading this battle, with reckless abandon for themselves. They will need all 17 to be at their best to get up against the Queenslanders.
HOW WILL QUEENSLAND WIN IT?:
Queensland are a well drilled, and highly motivated team that know each other in and out. Roughly the same squad has been picked throughout their success and this comes down to sticking with it. Despite a loss here and there, it’s the Queensland way. Look for the Big Three to be as influential as ever. Slater, Cronk and Smith are the players that if times are tough, they can spark something out of nothing. The Maroons are also so deadly at their game plan. If they can force the Blues into making mistakes in their own half watch for the daft kicks to get them reset sets of six, and letting the pressure mount. It’s suffocation at its finest and Queensland know how to play it perfectly.
HOW WILL NEW SOUTH WALES WIN IT?:
With 80 minutes of guts, determination and heart. A lot of talk has surrounded the big pack that the Blues rely on. You only have to look at Paul Gallen to see what Origin means to him. He would die for his state. Backed up by the experience of Greg Bird, Luke Lewis and Glen Stewart this is a tough outfit who know what it takes to change the last seven years of suffering. If these players can get on a roll, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney only have to play their natural game to spark this one up. In devastating form at the moment, and with history together they have the ability to turn this game on its head. It’s such an exciting prospect which I can’t wait to witness.
WHO WILL WIN IT?:
Etihad is a not the best hunting ground for the Blues, but if they want to set themselves up for a shot at this Origin series, they need to lay it all on the line in this one. Despite the fears of health in the Queensland camp they will all be ready to do battle against their foes. Both sides will be at war. This is war. This is where the good become great, and write their name in lights. This is the biggest stage of all. This is the chance you get to become an all time hero. Can the Blues get up? Yes, I think they can. It will not be won in the first minute but what happens early on will weigh big time on the result. This is an 80 minute game that will only be separated by four points. New South Wales 22-18.
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