Why the NSW Blues shouldn’t underestimate the Queensland Maroons
The Blues rebounded from their defeat in Game 1 to Adelaide with a 34-10 victory in Sydney following a masterclass from Nathan Cleary.
Yet in the locker room afterward, the Blues seemed exhausted, emotionally and physically, having invested everything to keep the series alive.
“We lost three players after the first game,” Fittler recalls. “Boyd Cordner and Cameron Murray were injured and Luke Keary was not taken into account either. Our guys were also bouncing off some harsh criticism of the first game. “
Across the tunnel, Maroons coach Wayne Bennett was laughing with his players.
“In Origin, sometimes the hardest thing to deal with is winning,” says Fittler. “Queensland seems to be doing better. Especially last year when you could see him in their rooms after the second game: well, let’s go. I took a little laugh from Wayne. This is another message not to panic. Where there is life, there is life.
Bennett’s side won the deciding match at Suncorp. For Blues fans, it was the biggest flop since Godfather III.
The scar tissue remains for the Blues, especially with the coach. This explains why he played down the 50-6 win at Townsville; why he kicked the media out of theaters after just 15 minutes.
The work is only partially done. Queensland is more dangerous after losing, NSW more vulnerable after winning.
According to rugby league statistics guru David Middleton, the Blues have won the first game of the series but have lost the second nine times in the past 40 years. Seven of them have been to Brisbane.
It’s easy to get amnesia in this fun old game, but think back, if you can, of Suncorp’s second game of 2006. That will explain why Fittler is super-vigilant when it comes to complacency.
The Blues won 17-16 in the series opener in Sydney, thanks to mid-pick Brett Finch who posted a late basket.
It was the narrowest of victories but still – again! – the Blues were the overwhelming favorites when they traveled to Brisbane to win the series.
The stories spun were pretty hilarious when you look back now …
Captain Darren Lockyer needed to be moved. They were the worst Queensland team in history, especially if they pick Adam Mogg on the wing. And then, of course, the obligatory question: “Is the Origin dying?” It’s dead ? If you can hear me, Origin, shake my hand.
The Maroons won 30-6, Mogg scored two tries, they won Game 3 in Melbourne, then eight straight series.
So, yeah, we’ve all seen this movie before. The preparation of the second game is already like the first game: calm. A little too calm. This is the part of the film where the hero blows his head.
Without a doubt, Fittler will be aware of the influence that referee Gerard Sutton will play. At Suncorp last year, the Maroons were offside most of the night. In Townsville earlier this month, NSW lost set restarts 5-1.
The Blues still won by 44 points, such was their domination on the fast surface, although Fittler dismissed the score.
“They never did any pros and cons in Origin,” he says. “It does not count. We must therefore recover quickly. “
QUEENSLANDER! national opening on Sunday at 7:50 p.m.