I tried to help Laurie Daley in the lead up to Origin two. I wrote quite categorically about the need to select a side for the future, rather than a team of has-beens and mentally scarred, overrated players.
I wasn’t the only one either.
As usual, he didn’t listen. The team of has-beens were defeated, as usual, and the status quo is maintained. The question now is, where does this poorly selected and coached team leave New South Wales in 2017?
Unfortunately, there will be calls to put the proverbial broom through the team and revolutionise things. That will put the Blues even further away from a series victory.
The failure to invest in some youth and potential in this series will now have an impact on the short-term future of the side, as the next crop of young players grapple with the speed and tension of Origin.
It will be interesting to see the likes of Jack Bird, James Tedesco, Bryce Cartwright, James Roberts, Joey Leilua cope with Origin if they’re selected in the future.
In turn, it will be fascinating to hear the coach talk about their development, calling for calm and patience as they gain the experience required. That is exactly why they should have been selected this year.
Now that Tyson Frizell has one game under his belt, will he be unfairly expected to teach the others about Origin? What responsibilities will be thrown his way?
The ageing and broken squad were once again shown to be a rung or two below the Maroons in Game 2. Sure there were a few chances and moments where the game might have turned in favour of New South Wales, however, this happens far too frequently to be a coincidence.
The Maroons are simply a little bit more composed, organised and frankly, just a little bit better.
This is the fundamental point that the New South Wales selectors haven’t been able to grasp, Queensland is just that little bit better. Better spine (boy am I sick of hearing about their spine), better leaders, better halves and a more expansive and attacking game plan.
Acknowledging this should have been a guide for NSW and their selection in the recent past.
Introducing the next generation of Blues and giving them the experience needed would place the team in an excellent position, allowing them to pounce when Queensland inevitably start to show some cracks.
A small problem arises here though.
Three years ago people began to see cracks in the Queensland forwards, yet their injection of youth and energy in the form of Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Aidan Guerra and Josh Papalii has energised them and prepared them for the future.
This is a lesson that hasn’t been learnt by the New South Wales selectors.
Although a few players have been experimented with, the idea of Paul Gallen, Greg Bird, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, Josh Morris and James Tamou as mainstays has not worked. The persistence with them has been staggering.
Daley’s faith in these players in recent times reflects his belief that they are the men for the job. This is an error.
While the Blues have pounded their heads against the wall year after year, Queensland have refreshed their squad with the aforementioned injection of new forwards, as well as introducing Corey Oates, Dane Gagai and Justin O’Neill.
It is a little scary to think that Anthony Milford is waiting in the wings. Finding him a spot could be Queensland’s only problem going forward.
So much for the long-held belief that Queensland just selects the same team each year, that they have easier decisions to make due to fewer players to draw upon. This is a fallacy, and their rejuvenation and the strength of youth in this team is evidence of that.
The possession stats last on Wednesday night showed a clear dominance. The kicking stats were poor from the Blues perspective and the forwards were once again unable to exert any sort of dominance in the middle, failing to engage in a more expansive game out wide.
The calls to invest in the future and the doom predicted by some (I am happy to be placed in this camp) have proven to be true.
Woods was ineffective as usual, Farah was his overrated self and Tamou was once again outplayed; he is a weak front rower incapable of confronting and dominating Queensland’s forwards. Both New South Wales front rowers hit the line with their back or side towards the defence on far too many occasions.
Frizell, on the other hand, was actually quite impressive and gave us a taste of what might have been.
The halves were clumsy and poor, while Michael Jennings and co were unconvincing in the backline. Cameron Smith exposed defensive lapses around the centre of the ruck and craftily worked his way into the game, making a habit of emphasising the slow-footed nature of the New South Wales forwards.
The ridiculous selection of Dylan Walker was proven to be exactly that. As a result, Greg Inglis was given a little more room to move with the absence of Josh Morris, helping Queensland’s backline look a little more dangerous than Game 1.
Scoring two tries was never going to be enough to defeat Queensland on home soil. Going into half time with two beautifully taken penalty goals might have made some feel confident and secure, yet we all knew that Smith and co would find a way to get their machine rolling, just as they did.
Many south of the border will write and speak with frustration about Smith, and his ability to manipulate rucks, referees and the key contests in the game. However, it is time for voices of doubt to admit that he stands above almost everyone in origin history.
Perhaps the Wally Lewis v Cameron Smith debate will rage for generations to come.
It was another Smith masterclass and the Blues pack seem under his spell when he is in that type of mood. Years of defeat appears to replay in the minds of the hapless forwards as the scheming hooker mesmerises them.
Some fearless men are required; men who can obliterate from their minds the history that Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston have created.
Does New South Wales have these men right now? Are they ready to win a series? Probably not.
If they had been selected last year, and picked again into this current series, they might have been able to challenge in 2017 and 2018.
The way it stands now, New South Wales may go into the next series with a number of inexperienced rookies, who struggle for a period before finding their feet. After more than a decade of misery, Blues fans don’t want to hear about finding their feet.
The Origin concept needs something better than a few more years of Queensland domination.
What in the world will Daley, Bob Fulton and co come up with for game three? I cannot wait. Take the plunge and follow Queensland’s lead? or remain stubborn and pigheaded?
My prediction? If form means anything then it will, unfortunately, be the latter.