From The Couch Rd 12

By Nick Tedeschi,

State of Origin I Preview: It is utterly astonishing that NSW have been backed into favouritism for Game I of the Origin series, a match that will be played in Brisbane and in which the Blues will be led by Mitchell Pearce. There is absolutely no way the Blues should be favourites and anyone who thinks they should be are off their rocker. The Blues could win but the Maroons are every bit the favourites in this.

Let’s start with a few numbers. Queensland have won 10 of the last 11 series and 12 of the last 18 matches. Of the last 11 live matches at Suncorp, the Maroons have won 10. Queensland have won three straight at Suncorp by 10 or more. The Blues have averaged a paltry 11.33 points per game under Laurie Daley.

And now the matchup. The forwards are evenly matched except for one area where Queensland have the best player on the field up against arguably the worst in Nathan Peats. Hooker is close to the most important position in Origin and Queensland’s edge here cannot be overstated. They also hold a notable edge in the halves thanks to Cooper Cronk’s kicking game and the brilliance offered by Anthony Milford. The failure of the Blues again to pick genuine centres will prove costly.

Queensland win this and the series.

Final Score: Queensland 16 NSW 6

Billy Snub Devastating: There have been few more enjoyable players to watch on the Origin stage than Billy Slater. So his absence from Queensland’s Origin I team is not only confounding but deeply harrowing. Slater’s Origin career has now effectively been ended in the most un-Queensland like way. Slater not only deserves to be there, he is playing so well that leaving him out just seems foolish.

Henry The Octopus: Henry Perenara managed to raise his hand for the last tackle on three tackles in one set in a display that surely must get him fired.

2017 Field Goal Update – 11: Chad Townsend slotted a decisive matchwinner against Canterbury with a strong snap.

Fun Fact #1: The Sydney Roosters have just nine players who have played 200 games and only one player to have scored over 1000 career points.

Fun Fact #2: Jarrod Croker is Canberra’s all-time leading pointscorer but has only once scored over 20 points in a game.

Fun Fact #3: Croker is one of only five players with 1500 career points not to slot a field goal – with Hazem El Masri, Craig Fitzgibbon, Graeme Langlands and Jamie Lyon.

Betting Market of the Week: What is more likely for Mitchell Pearce this Wednesday night:

$101.00: Man of the Match
$81.00: Hell Freezes Over
$21.00: A forced drop out
$1.80: More Missed Tackles Than Runs
$1.20: A majority of long kicks that fail to find the turf

Rumour Mill: There is hot rumour doing the rounds that an NRL official has found himself in some trouble with gambling. It would wreak havoc across the game if anything untoward was linked to him. There are a number of rumours doing the rounds that Billy Slater missed out on Origin for reasons other than form with Wayne Bennett allegedly having a say and the daughter of selector Gene Miles going out with Corey Oates. Greg Eastwood is expected to sign with the Wests Tigers. Aaron Gray will be a Shark next season. There is strong speculation Dylan Walker will return to South Sydney.

Robbie Farah Anger Level – Catastrophic: Farah was passed over for the NSW Origin jersey he has called his own for a long time in favour of both Peter Wallace and Nathan Peats, both of whom aren’t playing nearly as well. Wallace is almost as old and it is now Farah copping the blame for Mitchell Pearce’s failings. He was touch and go for Origin but the narrative that has come out over the last few weeks is highly insulting to arguably one of NSW’s best players of the last half-decade.

What I Like About … Angus Crichton: You don’t see too many backrowers run 100 metres for a try but that is what we saw on Friday night. He is some kind of talent.

Game of the Year Nomination, Round 12: Cronulla – Canterbury, 9 – 8. Ordinary round of Rugby League with the shortened schedule and the Origin stars missing.

The Coaching Crosshairs: Kevin Walters has put himself firmly in the crosshairs by not selecting Maroons legend Billy Slater for Origin I, effectively ending his rep career. Walters and his selection panel have essentially plumped for Justin O’Neill or Corey Oates instead of Slater, a massive call that is hugely unpopular in Queensland and is a breakaway from the traditional policy of loyalty. There are strong rumours as to the reason – a promise to Wayne Bennett, Oates going out with the daughter of a selector – but that does not matter. If the Maroons lose now Slater is dropped, Walters’ head will be on the block.

Moronic Coaching Decision of the Week: It is hard to go past Mitchell Pearce’s selection in Origin by Laurie Daley. Maybe it will be 16th time lucky. Maybe. History would suggest though it won’t and the Blues will have another loss on their hands.

Beard Watch: TV personalities don’t often get a run in Beard Watch – they rarely don the facial hair – but this column’s favourite The Professor deserves a shoutout for his academic inspired number. Nobody pulls off a cardigan/beard combo better.

Correspondence Corner: Mark, we have seen enough evidence on Mitchell Pearce. Very good club player. Cannot perform on the Origin stage.

CTPE, so I really made a mess of that Blocker face. Perhaps we will name it ‘Fun Wish’.

JJ1000, fair call.

Davey G, I am 100% with you on Kenny Edwards.

Watch It: Thanks to Cameron Morley for sending this great footage of a clash between Norths and Manly in the 1970s. Watch it here.


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