In this edition of Let’s Talk Sport Gladstone Today and CQ Today journalist Liam Emerton is joined by 4RO’s Aaron Stevens to recap the State of Origin game one.
State of Origin
Liam: Well mate you Queenslanders took out game one, what did you think of the match and the result?
Aaron: One word, QUEENSLANDER.
It was a typical Queensland effort. I’ve got to tell you the first half was a bit bland.
It was fast and the stats will tell you it was the fastest game ever but that’s all it was.
It was pretty much five tackles and a kick or a dropped ball. It was a little bit messy and we often see that in game one.
The first half wasn’t your typical Origin. And the commentators were saying they’d never seen backs run the ball as much as they had in the first half but it’s actually a trend that we’ve seen over the last couple of years.
I remember texting a friend last year saying, has the first 15 minute soften up period gone completely from Origin and it looks like it has.
As we see in the NRL the backs take the runs to keep their forwards as fresh as possible and do some of the harder yards when required.
But halfway through the second half a State of Origin game broke out and it was just fantastic.
We saw that intensity, that spirit from Queensland where it’s never say die and defend your line.
That’s when NSW clicked too and some of their passes started to stick, but surely, and I’ll flick this back to you, NSW need to make some changes for the second Origin.
If Staggs doesn’t go off, and I thought he’d been hooked because he did nothing in that first half, that was the only opportunity that Stephen Crichton had to come on.
I just think that they were missing that X-factor off the bench, do you agree?
Liam: Yeah I agree. The problem with it is, if the obvious 14th man Nicho Hynes plays, where would they have put him?
Would they have put him in the centres and let him play that Tommy Turbo role where he just roams around and gets involved in the play as much as possible.
But you’re right, Stags was disappointing, he didn’t get involved, he didn’t take the hit ups that someone like To’o or Tupou did.
And Wighton was by far the best player on the park for the Blues and I thought he was perfect out there.
You talked about the backs taking the work, Wighton took a hell of a lot of those runs in those first few tackles of a set.
I thought he cemented his spot for the next series no doubt.
Aaron: Before you go any further, is Wighton your utility, obviously he was in the side to fill gaps if required otherwise he will play centre.
Is Wighton your number 14 and goes back to your bench or is he your centre and you leave him there and go looking for a utility.
Liam: I think he stays in the centre. He played that role exactly how he needed too.
Stags won’t get another shot, I think Critta will be gone as well or he will get a start in the other centre position. We bring Nicho into the 14 and Wighton can still move out of the centre if there’s an injury.
It all depends on who is going to be able to play there, Latrell Mitchell won’t be in there. I thought he’d be the man to come in.
Why not bring Matt Burton into the centres? He’s got the combination and he’s playing brilliantly.
I don’t want us to panic, I think we were beaten because Queensland wanted it more.
Sometimes that is what it comes down to. But I think the rest of the team stays in there and maybe Tariq Sims is the only other person ousted from the squad.
All your debutants in Queensland performed. Reuben Cotter, 80 minutes, he is a freak.
Aaron: He is absolutely incredible. Some of the forwards were saying that they looked at Cotter and he was going to play 80 minutes, we need to be like him.
So for him to show that leadership in his first game was just remarkable.
They just did such a good job of cutting Luai and Cleary down didn’t they?
What did you think about Fitler’s excuse that Queensland were slowing down the play the ball?
I thought both sides were guilty of holding down.
Liam: Look it was a slow ruck from both teams. It wasn’t just Queensland. I don’t think we have one leg to stand on when it comes to complaining.
I think the only one is the Junior Paulo one but we see that happen in the scrum so often and it never gets pulled up.
I didn’t think it was a bad performance by the referee, it was even and I felt like it was fair.
Aaron: I think Clyne had difficulty keeping up with the game early in the first half and took time to warm up into it.
And maybe that was the reason for the, let’s call it flexibility, in the ruck.
But that Paulo decision, what are people in scrums meant to do?
As soon as it is out should they quickly let go and put their hands in the air?
There’s always going to be a period of time when after the ball clears that the scrum takes a bit to break.
And I also couldn’t believe that there were any questions or discussion around the Blues of the Paulo no try. That was a clear shepherd in that play.
Liam: We almost made the big comeback. But there’s one thing that I’ve been holding onto for the past week and I haven’t told you but I’ve got a red-hot take.
I think Cam Munster is the single best Queensland player, just for overall impact, since Wally Lewis.
I think that’s a bit of a hot take but he was absolutely unbelievable last Wednesday.
Aaron: He’s in the top ten. He’s close to the top of the top ten. But when you think of the players like Jonathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Cam Smith.
It would be very hard to pick an all-time Queensland side and not pick Cam Munster.
He was just incredible last night. Let’s forget the first half happened but when the second half started to click and it turned into a great match Cam Munster came into his own.
There was a ten minute period in that second half where Munster was unstoppable, darting around and finding holes.
I’ve got to say genuinely Liam, I was disappointed in one area of effort.
Liam: What was that mate?
Aaron: He didn’t score! I had him on to score, he made three breaks and couldn’t get over the line!
Liam: He came close so many times. But when he made of his breaks he was looking inside to Ponga.
To see in that moment, and Origin is running at a million miles a minute, to see that Cook was just behind him and knowing that Ponga would get potentially smashed and lose the ball, he just takes the tackle.
That’s brilliant. I know it’s a simple play but there’s a lot of players in the NRL that would have thrown that and Ponga gets tackled from behind and probably loses that ball.
I seriously think, for a one-off Queenslander and the way he lifts when he puts on the jersey, he is phenomenal.
Aaron: Andrew Johns gave him the greatest compliment coming from one of your best-ever Blues.
He said these aren’t schoolboys he’s playing against, these are the best players in the game and the fact that he’s showing them up is staggering.
If you’re picking an all time best Queensland squad he’s gotta be somewhere, I can’t put him in Wally’s place but surely he has a long time to go in that Queensland six jersey.
And by the time his run is finished, maybe he might overtake the king.