State of Origin games have always been difficult to manage. There are so many changes to in game conditions ranging from pace, tactics, injuries, fatigue which are huge factors. Coaches need to make decisions on the fly. Choosing when to use interchanges is almost as important as who has been selected on the bench.
Jack Bird is the perfect fit in this role. Once upon a time Kurt Gidley was our idea of the perfect number 14 in State of Origin. These days, we’ve seen our athletes need to possess both speed and size. Bird may not be as fast as Gidley was in his heyday but he sure has more size and strength.
Bird is the perfect utility to carry into origin. He can step in as a half, play out in the centres, be injected as an extra forward or a ball playing lock.
Klemmer is a great option to have off the bench. He not only has size but he’s got that inner mongrel which is much needed on the Origin stage. Klemmer has played internationally and proves weekly that he still has the go forward needed in this game of inches.
Graham was unlucky to miss out on a starting spot. Graham is one of the best back rowers in the comp. To have him coming off the bench is a luxury. Graham has a great mix of mobility, size and ball playing ability for a big man. I’d have to rate Graham as the best benchwarmer in this game for either side.
Trboojevic is another international that NSW have stocked in their bench rotation. Young Jake is a workhorse and could see considerable game time as the series goes on. For such a young player Trbojevic has a bright future for the Blues and once again wouldn’t look out of place in the starting line-up.
Michael Morgan is no stranger to Origin footy and high-pressure games. We all remember the brilliance he showed in the Grand Final against Brisbane a couple of years ago. Morgan is a clever young half who may not have the versatility of Jack Bird, but he makes up for it with his football IQ and directness in his style of play.
Thaiday is one of the old guard that Queensland will be carrying on their bench. Many NSW fans despise him, but if that’s the case, he’s doing something right. Thaiday has that bit of niggle in him that is often underrated in Origin.
Aiden Guerra was a questionable decision to come into the Queensland side. His form for club hasn’t been good by any stretch. However, how many times have we seen a Queensland side bring in a player in average club form and then they turn into game changers when called upon in Origin.
LIllyman is much the same as Guerra in this respect. Average club form but who knows whether that Queenslander spirit will make him an all-star come game time.
There’s no doubt in many spectators minds that NSW boast the better bench in this encounter. The question is will Laurie Daley make a meal of it like he did last year.
Daley’s decisions to carry big forwards on the bench in last year’s series yet implement a side-to-side style of play, which Phil Gould said “Could’ve been kept out for 3 months by the Queensland pack”. Tamou was played at lock and Woods was rested for 40 odd minutes. Both were bad decisions.
If NSW are to really take advantage of the upper hand they have coming off their bench, Daley needs to be smarter in who he subs in, when he subs them in and how he uses them once they get on the field.
Daley would have to go out of his way with poor decisions to allow the Queensland bench to have more of an impact that the talent the Blues have.
By Nik Hatzi