By Aaron Callaghan
Game two of the 2019 state of origin series is in Perth this year. Queensland are largely unchanged from the side that won game one in Brisbane but south of the border in Sydney, Freddy Fittler has hit the panic button and rung in the changes.
Firstly for Queensland, Dylan Napa moves from the bench to the starting team, Jarrod Wallace moves in to the squad to start on the pine and Tim Glasby moves from 18th man on to the bench for the injured Joe Ofahengaue. There is something to be said about stability and winning state of origin series, you know something like pick and stick, I guess the Queensland Maroons know a thing or two about how to win Origins it pains me to say.
The punters out there on social media like to pan off-centre team selections, I find it interesting because 100% of those commenters have never played a single game of first grade, let alone Origin. The selection that personifies my point is Tim Glasby, a good first grader and the perfection is that one wouldn’t pick Tim at Origin because he’d be out matched or he’s not rep quality, well Glasby was endorsed by Cameron Smith - backed to do a job and he delivered, a consummate professional who won’t let you down.
Enough about Queensland. It is time to take a look at this new New South Wales Blues. A team that is not recognisable as the team that came within an intercept try of beating Queensland in Brisbane.
Here are the changes starting from the backline and some commentary around each selection.
Blake Ferguson IN and Nick Cotric OUT - Wade Graham accidently stepped on Cotric’s ankle in making a tackle during round 14. Cotric did a fine job in game one and was sure to be picked in game two but will not recover from an ankle injury in time.
Tom Trbojevic IN Latrell Mitchell OUT - Tommy Turbo comes in for the out of form Latrell who doesn’t appear to be playing his best football at the moment, perhaps some off field issues troubling Mitchell at the moment.
Jack Wighton STARTS, Josh Morris OUT - Interesting Josh Morris has been dropped in favour of younger legs, Morris did a good job in game one, although probably lucky to be matched up with Michael Morgan instead of a legitimate centre.
James Maloney IN, Cody Walker OUT - This one sucks. Cody Walker dropped after one Origin and leaving no creativity off the bench, I would have liked to see Walker wearing the 14. James Maloney should have been selected when Luke Keary went down injured. It feels like Cleary and Keary will be NSW long term halves and I’d like to see Walker as a long term utility. Pick the guys and give them a chance. Rest assured however Maloney is an Origin calibre player.
Daniel Saifiti IN, David Klemmer OUT - David Klemmer’s injury was perhaps one of the hardest felt by NSW in team selections for game two, not only in finding a replacement but the go forward he provides and controlling the middle with strong defence. Daniel Saifiti has been playing well for the Knights, no judgement here, Freddy has played more origins than I and he sees potential in Saifiti. Interesting selection nonetheless.
Dale Finucane IN, Payne Haas OUT - Finucane has been in great form for the Storm and Haas is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Tariq Sims IN, Angus Crichton OUT - What exactly did Crichton do wrong?
Wade Graham IN - In limited minutes has been outstanding for the Sharks. Great leader, smart footballer. In career best fitness too.
On initial glance of the team I liked coach Fittler’s selections, I still do, when one sits down to write a few hundred words on team selection you start to think differently, I still think NSW can win game two, I still believe in Fittler. I keep drifting back to the old adage of pick and stick, give guys a chance to work in to their roles, grow and gain confidence.
Dropping a player after one appearance does nothing for their confidence.