Sport

Beware the rag tags

Scott Powick - Daily News

WHEN I am asked to tip a score in a State of Origin match my mind wanders back to 1995, and a coporate function in Brisbane at which I was a guest speaker. It was the year no Super League-signed players were selected, which meant no Broncos, Raiders or Cowboys.

Queensland picked what could only be described as a rag tag team, coached by novice Fatty Vautin. Only five players from the previous year were eligible and rookie Ben Ikin was such a selection bombshell that Fatty initially barred him from the team room, thinking he was an autograph hunter.

When asked at the corporate function what I thought the result would be, I said Queensland would be smashed by 40 points. History tells us the Maroons won that match 2-nil, and went on to sweep the series in the biggest upset in Origin history.

Coached by Phil Gould, the Blues fielded rugby league luminaries of the ilk of Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns, Steve Menzies, Paul Harragon, Geoff Toovey and Terry Hill. But they scored just 28 points in the series.

With no disrespect intended, Queensland rode home on the back of nine debutants, including little-knowns Danny Moore, Tony Hearn, Terry Cook and Craig Teevan. My reputation as a footy judge took a well-deserved hammering that night and since then I have been more judicious with my predictions.

Having said that, I look at the two line-ups for the Origin opener in Melbourne on Wednesday night and honestly can't see how the Blues can win. My grey matter is not what it once was, but in 32 years of watching Origin I'm finding it difficult to recall a better-balanced team with as much strike power as this Queensland 17.

Sure there's no Darren Lockyer, but has Johnathan Thurston been in better form? And what about Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant and Dave Taylor? Even debutant Matt Gillett has been playing out of his skin.

The Blues have again abandoned their pick-and-stick policy. Only eight players remain from game three last year and Ricky Stuart has put his faith in a reformed bad boy (Todd Carney), a turncoat Kiwi (James Tamou) a debutant who has not played for eight weeks (Tony Williams), a hooker he never wanted (Robbie Farah) and a centre who last week played reserve grade for his club (Michael Jennings).

On that evidence alone, the Blues could well be described as a rag tag team, and on paper clearly inferior to the Maroons. On Wednesday night they should be hammered. But that's what I thought about Queensland in 1995.

Topics:  state of origin


Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Wintermoon Festival turns on a show for 20th year

Perch Creek Band at Wintermoon 2016.Photo Peter Carruthers / Whitsunday Times

Crowds flock to the popular music festival at Cameron's Pocket

Corinn bids the Whitsundays farewell

Corinn Stickland, the popular admin of Whitsundays Amateur Photography page on Facebook is leaving the Whitsundays to start a new adventure up north.

Corinn Stickland founded the Whitsunday amateur photographers' group

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner and Charity Auction

Latest deals and offers

Sales underway at exclusive real estate locations

CONSTRUCTION is soon to begin on exclusive Airlie Beach real estate developments at One Airlie and Funnel Bay.

MP questions why bridge work has stalled

Tenders expected to be called this year for Fiery Ck project

Funds not set in stone

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen is hoping funds for roads will be allocated in the budget tonight.

Announcements on funds could continue after the budget is announced

Dam divides its stakeholders

Initiative Capital CEO John Cotter, Urannah Station representative Kelvin Dunrobin, Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen and Bowen Collinsville Enterprise representative David Evans meet in Mackay last week.

Traditional owners plan to fight the proposed Urannah dam project.

Wintermoon Festival turns on a show for 20th year

Perch Creek Band at Wintermoon 2016.Photo Peter Carruthers / Whitsunday Times

Crowds flock to the popular music festival at Cameron's Pocket

Corinn bids the Whitsundays farewell

Corinn Stickland, the popular admin of Whitsundays Amateur Photography page on Facebook is leaving the Whitsundays to start a new adventure up north.

Corinn Stickland founded the Whitsunday amateur photographers' group

What's on in the region this long weekend?

Wintermoon Music Festival, Camerons Pocket, April 30th- May 3rd, 2015. Photo Lee Constable / Daily Mercury

Take a look at what's on in the region this long weekend.

ACF take Minister to Court

ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy

The Australian Conservation Foundation go to court to stop Carmichael mine.

Dash Cam: Roo takes on car

Kangaroo leaps car.

Kangaroo could have kept going, jumps car instead.

Wintermoon Festival

Ruby Irving and Rosie Pyrospirals having fun at Wintermoon.Photo Peter Carruthers / Whitsunday Times

Music festival turns 20 years old.

Sales underway at exclusive real estate locations

Funnel Bay, a 55 acre waterfront development, is six minutes from the main street of Airlie Beach. Photo Lucy Smith / Daily Mercury

Residential blocks costing up to $2.25 million

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog