Game I New South Wales Origin Team

Tom

State of Origin Rep
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They have a point though. Farrah is used to running the club and I can imagine what it would be like to play in a team with him. He gives great service for the most part, but does like to call the shots and try and control the whole team. That's the halves job, not his, he's in charge of the forwards.....and I can see him ignoring Pearce because he "saw" something. Speculating of course.
fixed it for you :biggrin:
 

Dexter

State of Origin Rep
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Of course, but the bleachers at Suncorp are still pretty good seats. People always complain about the price gouging, but you don't need to be paying $200 for seats.
Well somebody does when all the better priced seat are gone.
 

Dexter

State of Origin Rep
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A Kingdom For A Halfback

Tomorrow night, Mitchell Pearce will play his 16th game as State of Origin, his 13th technically as halfback. That puts him alongside the likes of Andrew Johns (16 as halfback), Ricky Stuart (14) and Peter Sterling (13) as one of the most capped halves in Origin history. Unfortunately for Mitchell Pearce, he simply isn't as good as those players and has copped a lot of criticism. While I believe some of the criticism is deserved, this amazing record is merely an encapsulation of what has been a notoriously poor era for NSW halves.

When Mitchell Pearce first broke into the NSW team, it was during a transitional period for the Blues. Sans Andrew Johns, the Blues were looking for the right kind of halfback who could help lead them to victory. After giving players like Brett Finch, Craig Gower, Jarrod Mullen, Brett Kimmorley and Peter Wallace a shot, the Blues turned to Pearce in the foolish hopes that his combination with Roosters team mate Braith Anasta would yield a positive result.

Despite Queensland being without their legendary skipper Darren Lockyer and his replacement Scott Prince who suffered a broken arm 20 minutes into the contest, they still managed to win the game, setting the scene for Pearce's tenure as halfback. While Pearce escaped criticism, with most fans placing the blame squarely on Anasta who had failed in his previous three stints, to introduce a player of Pearce's experience into an environment like that with that level of expectation really did him no favours.

In a perfect world, Mitchell Pearce's Origin career would mirror that of Cooper Cronk. In a way, both players are very similar players. Both of them have strong long distance kicking games, both like to take the line on and play direct as possible. While I believe there is a level of professionalism that separates the pair, the other factor in play here is that Cooper Cronk was a late bloomer.

Cooper Cronk didn't develop into the player we've come to know until 2006, when he was 23. For a time, there was a theory that Cooper Cronk was a one dimensional player who relied heavily on the stars around him to make him look good, but that eventually dissipated as the roster changed and Cronk's level of performance endured. At 27, Cronk was able to get his first taste of Origin football, as a utility subbing in for the recently departed Karmichael Hunt. Then at 29, Cronk graduated into the starting halves role where he ultimately used all of his experience to calmly slot a pressure kick that would separate the two states at the end of the series.

Mitchell Pearce is 28 years old, he's been in the deep end ever since he made his first grade debut at 17. While I don't think he'll ever mature into a player like Cooper Cronk, apart of me just wonders if he was shown the same patience what type of player he would be. Even with his messy NRL development, he's matured into a very solid player and dare I say a match winner for the Sydney Roosters so far this season.

The problem with Pearce is that he's had to shoulder the blame for an entire generation of bumbling NSW halves. Every year we hear the same complaints from Blues supporters, but we see very little in the way of alternatives. The players that are typically proposed are more or less shots in the dark with no real form guide or rationale behind their selection other than being the alternative. It's been a sordid history, so let me break it down, era by era

2008 - The Blues were an utter mess. Originally the plan was to go with Kurt Gidley as the halfback, who was one of the form players of the competition at the time and had done a reasonable job in the Blues Game III 07 victory. Unfortunately Gidley suffers an injury and instead of going with the logical replacement in Grand Final halfback Matt Orford or the in-form Brett Kimmorley, they go with the unheralded Peter Wallace. Wallace, who couldn't even making the City starting side, surprised on debut delivering a solid performance. Wallace ruptured his testicles in Game II forcing a reshuffle and instead of going back to Kidley, they bring in the 19-year old Pearce who is clearly out of his depth and Queensland win with K.Hunt at 6.

2009-2011 - The Blues are an absolute train wreck during this period. Just a mish-mash of agendas with no real leadership or direction moving forward. Despite being out with injury, it's decided that Mitchell Pearce is the Blues halfback moving forward and they'll pick and stick with him no matter what. While you could argue for Pearce's candidancy, the biggest problem with the Blues around this time is their inability to nail all their other selections. It's during this period we see Hayne dropped and players like Jason King, Dean Young, Kade Snowden, Tim Mannah, rookie Trent Merrin, Old Man-A-Chiello & Galloway among others selected. Pearce wasn't ready to come into the team, and I don't think any halfback could make it work in that environment.

2012-16 - The Blues get their act together, but fall short for one reason or another. This is the point in time where I believe Pearce should have entered the Origin scene, but he shouldn't have been considered the senior partner. He should have come in with a Jamie Soward, Todd Carney or James Maloney leading the ranks. Unfortunately for one reason or another, they got that wrong and now Pearce has lapses in his game where he'll just come up with one bad option too many. It doesn't help that NSW win their one and only series without him. A lot of fans read into that, even though the result had little to do with who the halves were and was based more on Hayne's brilliance, their rugged defence and a few injuries going their way. In 2015, Pearce returned, but he didn't have the luxury of playing alongside Jarryd or coming up against a weakened Queensland outfit. In the one game Queensland were without Cooper Cronk, Pearce has arguably his greatest Origin performance before crashing down to earth in the decider. One dirty Australia Day session later, NSW get a chance to see their other options, only to discover that Adam Reynolds is a one dimensional player who struggles to read the play and usually just sits back.

2017 - Even though Pearce should really be focusing on his club duties, he's thrown back into the mix because all the other halves shit the bed. Reynolds can barely stay on the field, Moylan is struggling with the demands of being captain and Sezer has yet to mature into a reliable match winner. Fortunately for Pearce, he isn't the dominant half in this combination, James Maloney who had an up and down series has tenure and there's the sense that Pearce has been selected merely for his benefit. Without that weight of being the senior half, Pearce can mind his own performance, just like he did in Game I 2013.

The problem with NSW is that there wasn't a generation after Johns to take over. For whatever reason, the Brett Firmans, Matt Heads, Jamie Sowards, Peter Wallaces, Jarrod Mullens, Matt Orfords, Todd Carneys, Michael Dobsons, Luke Brooks, Trent Hodkinsons, Blake Greens, Kris Keatings, Beau Henrys, Harry Siejkas etc. didn't kick on and didn't present the selectors with a compelling alternative. For once the Blues decided to pick and stick, unfortunately it was for a player who hadn't matured and needed as much time to assume the role.

I wonder now that Pearce has had his sabatical what sort of player we'll get? I believe this is the right environment, the Blues are no longer the inferior side on paper like they were in 2010 but is this just one mental barrier he cannot surpass? Is Mitchell Pearce simply a representative of an entire generation of halfback down south that have simply failed to forge a legendary career for themselves? Or was he simply their answer to Cooper Cronk?

BP's Hindsight Halves Pairings
2008 - Bird/Orford
2009 - Campese/Mullen
2010 - Campese/Mullen
2011 - Soward/Hornby
2012 - Carney/Pearce
2013 - Maloney/Pearce
2014 - Maloney/Hodkinson
2015 - Maloney/Hodkinson
2016 - Maloney/Reynolds

I always rated that Harry Siejkas, whatever happened to him?
 

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