Game On: NSW still singing the Blues chasing Origin success

Bolter? Hooker Cameron McInnes has been impressive for St George Illawarra. Picture:  Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Bolter? Hooker Cameron McInnes has been impressive for St George Illawarra. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

DANNY Buderus, the last hooker to be part of a dominant NSW era, reflects the uncertain thinking of the rest of us. 

Robbie Farah was still the best bet, he told AAP at the start of the week. But later, in an interview with Fox Sports, he was leaning towards Nathan Peats.

Another ex-Blues No.9, Michael Ennis, would pick emerging Dragons talent Cameron McInnes. 

And this week’s scuttlebutt is all about NSW coach Laurie Daley turning to the veteran halfback turned hooker Peter Wallace.

The path to State of Origin success has never been less clear.

And that’s without even talking about who should be picked in the halves.

Of course Daley would have a plan, he’s already discussed on television the likelihood of moving to a more mobile forward pack after the big boppers failed to deliver last year.

But more than a decade of heartbreak and disaster appears no closer to ending.

The only success NSW has had, in 2014, came through a stop-at-nothing willingness to run through brick walls and stop freight trains, rather than any form of sheer of brilliance. Daley raising a potential change in direction in the forwards is interesting, because the pack is the only advantage the Blues can lay claim.

Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell, Wade Graham, Josh Jackson and Aaron Woods, provided he is fit, are the future, we remind ourselves when clinging to any shred of hope.

So the tendency might be to find players with footwork and the line and able to produce quick play-the-balls, rather than bashing and barging the Blues to victory.

It seems a reasonable argument, until considering the conventional wisdom about the “spine” – the fullback, halves and hooker – being the key.

Give Mitchell Pearce one more last chance?

Reynolds and Maloney? Moylan? Jack Bird? 

The concern about bringing Pearce back is the same as with Farah. 

Even if you are convinced they are the best option this year, what does it offer the strategic direction.

The Blues have done all this work with bringing their former greats into the fold, this year creating a hall of fame, in a bid to create a Queensland-like culture.

And yet at the selection table, NSW remain in danger of the same muddled thinking which put them in this situation in the first place.

And sure, Queensland’s empire continues to show signs of crumbling. 

Johnathan Thurston has been injured, Greg Inglis has taken time away from the game entirely and there is a question about whether Billy Slater or Darius Boyd takes over in the No.1 jersey.

But it quickly turns into a discussion about how Queensland can lose the series, rather than how NSW can be the dominant force in rugby league’s showpiece event.

Wallace’s form holds up, especially in a Penrith team struggling, at least before their remarkable comeback against the Warriors.

The heir apparent to Farah, Nathan Peats has only played four games this year, while McInnes has been one of the great success stories since arriving at the Dragons from Souths.

If Wallace or Farah’s selection fails to excite you about NSW’s prospects, are you prepared to cop another couple of years of disappointment to invest in Peats or McInnes as the Blues next great hope?

Buderus believes Farah has proven himself as an Origin player and should remain, even though he has been coming off the bench at Souths for half of the 10 rounds.

Elsewhere, a wing spot remains vacant, with Brett Morris, or shifting Josh Dugan, at the top of the list of options to come in, now Manly flyer Tom Trbojevic – who deserved his shot – is injured.

On Monday, Daley unveils the plan. NSW fans are desperately banking on it being a road map for the future and another hopeless dead end.