State of Origin: Why Maroons are wrong to target Hayne

Ross Houston
June 5, 2017

The unique three match series, dubbed "mate against mate, state against state" sees the country's top players leave their clubs and play for their state - the state where they played their first professional club match.

THE NSW Blues have found a formula which, if they can replicate it, will see them dominate State of Origin for several years. Rugby league is one of his great passions, and he thrives on looking for the story behind the story, the personality behind the player, and going beyond simply what happens in the game to try to establish why.

Queensland have won 10 of the last 11 series - including 22 match victories to 11 - since 2006, and have amassed 634 points to the Blues' 451 in the process.

They couldn't take this one off Andrew Fifita.

Dane Gagai took the ball deep into the Blues' half before he was tackled and from the next play scrum-half Cooper Cronk aimed a high kick towards the left corner.

"I don't go out there trying to score tries, it's a part of the game where you are sometimes lucky enough to score tries but I think as I've matured as a player and built other elements to my game, I've become more of a creative fullback than a one-dimensional finishing fullback".

The brilliant Blues are now one-up in a series they could secure in game two at ANZ Stadium on June 21.

And at the same ground where Beetson inspired Queensland 37 years ago, Fifita was commanding, creative and bullish in NSW's 28-4 win.

Another who performed well for the Blues was Jarryd Hayne.

Maloney enjoyed the midfield general role, scoring the first try and landing four from five conversions.

Brett Kimmorley achieved just about everything in Australian rugby league, playing more than 300 first-grade games and winning the 1999 grand final in which he was named Man of the Match. "He's a great player and he showed that with a couple of his plays that got us on the front foot, how damaging he can be".

Fresh off missing a combined 58 tackles as a team and being thoroughly outplayed Origin I, Queensland skipper Cameron Smith pulled no punches.

In injury news, Queensland will monitor prop Nate Myles (elbow) and Milford while NSW will sweat on hooker Nathan Peats (corked thigh). It was a steady, pragmatic process, in contrast to a headless and desperate NSW selection strategy that turned over far more players than Queensland.

During the week, plenty of jokes were made that Queensland had a side "so good" that they didn't need to pick Billy Slater. I don't know what they are going to do with Billy (Slater) but if Billy comes back into the side along with JT, they will be a different team.

One Maroons official joked to, "He (Beveridge) is never welcome back mate, because we lost".

Blues coach Laurie Daley has called on Mitchell Pearce, Jarryd Hayne, James Maloney and Fifita to instil some belief and swagger for what is traditionally an intimidating atmosphere at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.

"I got told that we had a time limit and I said 'OK, sweet'".

"With all due respect I think if Johnathan was out there tonight the score line might have been a little bit closer but they were pretty dominant through the middle and John doesn't play in there".

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