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


Stay Connected

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

Premier Men tame Lions

GOAL: The Whitsunday FC Premier Men celebrate another goal at the Whitsunday Sportspark last night. 
Photo Rory Sheavils / The Guardian

The Whitsunday FC Premier Men put paid to Lions at home last night.

This year’s fete set to be great!

WINNERS: 1st Lawton Kelly, 6 (centre), 2nd Kate Bennett, 10 (left) and 3rd Gemma Ross, 8 (right).

This year's fete will feature a host of fun events

Hollywood stars hit Hamo

STAR POWER: Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured) and Chris Hemsworth have reportedly been holidaying on Hamilton Island this week.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Hemsworth have been spotted on Hamo

Latest deals and offers

Tunes to get you moving

The Whitsunday Reef Festival will be rocking the town with some of the country's hottest young talent performing throughout the 10-day extravaganza.

Premier Men tame Lions

GOAL: The Whitsunday FC Premier Men celebrate another goal at the Whitsunday Sportspark last night. 
Photo Rory Sheavils / The Guardian

The Whitsunday FC Premier Men put paid to Lions at home last night.

This year’s fete set to be great!

WINNERS: 1st Lawton Kelly, 6 (centre), 2nd Kate Bennett, 10 (left) and 3rd Gemma Ross, 8 (right).

This year's fete will feature a host of fun events

Hollywood stars hit Hamo

STAR POWER: Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured) and Chris Hemsworth have reportedly been holidaying on Hamilton Island this week.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Hemsworth have been spotted on Hamo

Champion returns to defend Airlie triathlon

WARRIOR RETURNS: Sam Betten claiming the Hamilton Island Triathlon in 2014.Photo Andrea Francolini

Sam Betten is determined to defend his triathlon title

PJs will help children

ALL DAY COMFORT: Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre family support worker Kerri Brown, community development officer Tamara Noble and admin officer Peita Rollings getting ready for Pyjama Day last year. Photo: Charlotte Lam

Wear PJs to work and help children

Reno stars want tradies to focus a little more on one thing

The Demmrichs want Tradies to look after their most important tool

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Hollywood stars hit Hamo

STAR POWER: Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured) and Chris Hemsworth have reportedly been holidaying on Hamilton Island this week.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Chris Hemsworth have been spotted on Hamo

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Chance to own an island

Keswick Island is for sale.

Keswick Island to go on the market