NEWS Mam or Dearden? Why Munster agony should signal Ezra’s moment to shine

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Just last year, Maroons coach Billy Slater signalled his philosophy when it came to bestowing Queensland jerseys: form would prevail over reputations.

For that reason, Broncos star Ezra Mam should be considered the frontrunner to fill the void set to be left by Cameron Munster, courtesy of yet another injury.

The sight of the Melbourne Storm five-eighth clutching in agony at his troublesome groin during his side’s 48-16 Magic Round triumph on Sunday is expected to leave him in a cluttered Queensland casualty ward for State of Origin Game 1 on June 5.

He will join Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Thomas Flegler and Tom Gilbert, while reigning Dally M medal winner Kalyn Ponga is also on the sidelines.

Munster was set to get scans on Monday, having missed the first month of the season with the same setback, and concern is rife his year could be over if surgery is required.

“Don’t put me 100 per cent here - but I think if he has an operation now he probably won’t play again for the rest of the year,” Storm coach Craig Bellamy said post-game.

“He missed the first four or five games of the season with it. If he’s capable of playing towards the end of the season we might go that way, but he has to have a say in it, too.

“I had a chat with Billy the other day – at the end of the day I’m not saying he can’t play Origin either ... I’ve never stopped anyone from playing Origin who wanted to play.

“That’ll be a decision for Cameron to make when we find out what the damage is and our plan to try and mend it.”

While Munster’s absence would be a cruel blow to the Maroons’ hopes of sealing a third straight series win, Mam has been electric for Brisbane without halfback Adam Reynolds, out with a bicep tear.

The 21-year-old’s best performances this year have come without his regular partner in crime, and he now appears destined to enter a two-way battle with Cowboys maestro Tom Dearden for Munster’s Maroons jumper.

Dearden, who starred in his sole appearance for Queensland two years ago, produced a timely reminder of his credentials in Magic Round – his two tries and a pair of linebreaks helping North Queensland break a five-game losing streak against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

But since the Broncos’ round six win over the Dolphins, Mam has surged into contention, registering three tries, eight try assists and eight linebreak assists in his past five games.

His defence has also improved – often the first man in the tackle on kick chases – and his instinctive style could be the perfect foil for halfback Daly Cherry-Evans.

For his part, Dearden has registered five tries, three try assists and five linebreak assists in 11 outings this year.

But Maroons centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow believes past relationships could give Dearden the edge.

Tabuai-Fidow made an emphatic comeback from a hamstring injury in the Dolphins’ Magic Round triumph over the Tigers on Sunday, and is ready to reclaim his place on the Maroons’ left edge.

“The Hammer” also played alongside Dearden with North Queensland, and experienced first-hand what impact pre-existing partnerships could have in Origin when he lined up with close friend Murray Taulagi.

“I played with Tommy Dearden at centre too, and we all know what he can do,” Tabuai-Fidow said.

“Obviously, Murray plays the same side as him, and it will give him confidence as well - they play week in, week out and if he does come into the team I think he’ll do a really good job for us.

“He works hard, and he’s a good attacking player, too. Obviously, we have big names out, but whoever pulls on that jersey I know is going to put 100 per cent into it as well.”

It is a compelling argument, and may also work in Mam’s favour given his rapport with Reece Walsh and Selwyn Cobbo.

Slater also showed last year his willingness to decide on form when he chose Walsh to become the state’s new fullback, despite Ponga’s man-of-the-match performance in the decisive Game 3 clash the year prior.

He displayed that same mentality in selecting Gilbert – traditionally a middle forward – in the second row at the expense of seasoned campaigners Kurt Capewell and Felise Kaufusi.

And when it comes to the big stage, cast an eye over Mam’s grand final hat-trick just seven months ago.

He proved then that the game’s most daunting cauldrons would not deter him.

Sydney Morning Herald
 
Big Del

Big Del

NRL Captain
Apr 22, 2017
4,550
5,357
keys know it well. No need to google. Essentially the idiom refers to the practice of harming one person to act as a warning to the others involved.

A sort of slaughter the chicken and let the monkeys watch sort of concept.

Interesting that you would know that one.

Yep cut the Roosters throat and let the monkey watch .
Just about as obscure as your shoogly peg .
 
broncos4life

broncos4life

International Captain
Forum Staff
Oct 5, 2011
25,508
26,050
That one play optimises Origin though. Be good if you could one day grow up enough to take the Broncos glasses of every once in a while. We all love Mam but rubbishing Dearden just to get Mam an Origin jersey is next level dumb.
I don’t want Mam to play origin we need him, I am just stating my opinion that Dearden is greatly overrated, a lot of Cowboys fans agree.

The irony of telling someone unprompted to grow up just because you disagree with their opinion is pretty great though.
 
Bucking Beads

Bucking Beads

International Captain
Contributor
Mar 5, 2008
22,509
4,687
I don’t want Mam to play origin we need him, I am just stating my opinion that Dearden is greatly overrated, a lot of Cowboys fans agree.

The irony of telling someone unprompted to grow up just because you disagree with their opinion is pretty great though.
Ok.
 
Manofoneway

Manofoneway

NRL Player
May 22, 2022
1,479
3,905
Mam is the obvious choice but boy I hope they pick dearden..
 
Mustafur

Mustafur

State of Origin Captain
Contributor
Jun 13, 2019
9,249
13,475
I think Dearden would get it, Mam does offer a completely different type of play from 6 though and with Walsh and likely Cobbo next to him it wouldn't be that hard to slot in though.
 

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