Queensland Origin dominance could be on the wane

The Maroons celebrate their 12-10 victory over NSW in game three at Homebush last year. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO

The Maroons celebrate their 12-10 victory over NSW in game three at Homebush last year. Picture: BRENDAN ESPOSITO

RUGBY LEAGUE

This is a column written out of desperation as much as anything else but could Australia's scratchy Test win over the Kiwis be a sign that Queensland's mighty State of Origin empire is crumbling?

Tim Sheens spoke about it being one of the last times the group that secured a record-equalling 16 consecutive wins would play together.

Featuring 13 of 17 Maroons players wearing green and gold, the Aussies came from behind to prevail 30-18 at Allianz Stadium.

Consider this quote from Sheens and the potential consequence for Queensland: "They've played really well for Australia and represented their country last year in England and this is the first chance [since winning the World Cup] you'll get to see them - and maybe the last chance."

Sure, Sheens's comments were in part a call to arms for fans to show interest in a stand-alone Test without NRL to distract them.

But in the aftermath, the rookie-laden Kiwis were lauded for their courage, the Australians merely acknowledged for their ability to respond to a first-half deficit in a game they were expected to win in a canter.

If Sheens is looking for renewal, several of the most likely are Queenslanders as well, Daly Cherry-Evans being a case in point.

But it raises a conundrum for Mal Meninga about the delicate balance between impressive youth and all-conquering, if ageing, experience, as Sheens conceded.

Just 11 days before NSW start their attempts to deny Queensland a ninth consecutive Origin series, many south of the border were encouraged by the lack of conviction by the Kangaroos in the Test success.

There's also a different aura about the way Blues coach Laurie Daley [in his second year in charge] is carrying himself this year.

Daley, an annual finalist in the world's nicest bloke competition, was upfront and honest when discussing selections and tactical battles in the series defeat in 2013.

Learning from the experience, Daley is keeping his cards much closer to his chest about who he picks and how the Blues will attempt to stop the northern juggernaut.

In the wake of the City-Country stalemate, NSW's coaching hierarchy, former greats and long-suffering punters are left to ponder the right mix to finally topple the Queenslanders.

Of course, Queensland have the advantage of two games in Brisbane this year, meaning many are writing off the Blues before even entering the cauldron.

But New Zealand were without the likes of Issac Luke and Kieran Foran, as well as overlooking Sonny Bill Williams, and provided a massive scare to the World Cup champions, as well as ruining multi bets up and down the eastern seaboard.

As every year, NSW types will argue about key positions; this year the choice between Josh Reynolds and Jarrod Mullen at five-eighth dominated much of the discussion.

Josh Dugan or Jarryd Hayne? Jarryd Hayne or Michael Jennings? Aaron Woods or Trent Merrin? Or both?

Queensland have their own issues, generated by their phenomenal success.

Greg Inglis is without doubt the most damaging fullback in the game, though Billy Slater retains the No 1 jersey, largely because of the South Sydney superstar's ability to play in the centres.

Mercury columnist Steve "Blocker" Roach reckons keeping Inglis to one side of the field, rather than a roaming role from fullback, is an bonus for NSW because they can do a better job of containing him.

At right centre, Josh Morris has been outstanding, marking Inglis, while ever-wary of the Johnathan Thurston show at the same time.

If Sheens reckons time is running out for the current crop of Kangaroos - and Queenslanders - then maybe there is hope for us long-suffering New South Welshmen after all.

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