State of Origin II Preview: Presenting the Worst Prepared Blues Team in Origin History
Louis Pasteur said "Luck favours the mind that is prepared". If that is the case, Queensland are on their way to a big win in game II of the State of Origin series, writes Nick Tedeschi.
There has never been a more poorly constructed and ill prepared New South Wales team in the thirty year history of State of Origin football. Against a Queensland team that may be the most talented ever fielded and who are on the verge of history, New South Wales would seem little hope of stopping the Maroons juggernaut.
The problems for New South Wales started at the selection table when Bob McCarthy and his cohorts dropped young five-eighth Terry Campese and replaced him with aging pivot Trent Barrett.
Barrett is being hailed as a saviour yet he has played only twelve matches in the NRL since 2006 for a team that has been locked in last place for much of the year. Barrett has also played only seven matches for New South Wales and has never played an entire series. His record for the Blues is only a fair with three wins from his seven matches. Barrett's only role in a winning series was in 2004 when he was called in for the game three decider which was won by New South Wales 36-14.
Barrett also entered camp with a back injury that saw him go down hurt during one session. Barrett was not the only injured player selected. Michael Jennings was picked to play left centre but was ruled out last Friday.
Hooker Robbie Farah could not train until the weekend with former Blues legend Andrew Johns training in his place. Paul Gallen continues to battle a shoulder injury that ruled him out of game one. Utility Craig Wing, whose impact in game one put the Blues back in the match, had a dodgy hamstring and that got progressively worse as he was forced to train more. He was ruled out on Monday. His replacement is Bulldogs centre Josh Morris. Morris played on Friday night and his inclusion will force a major reshuffle in the Blues backline if the Blues lose or need to rest a half or hooker.
New South Wales have lurched from one disaster to the next since the team was selected. That kind of preparation won't cut it against this red hot Queensland team with weapons all over the park.
New South Wales once held a dominant record against Queensland at ANZ Stadium but that hoodoo seems to have been busted over the last two series with Queensland winning two of the last three matches in Sydney, holding New South Wales to a touch over twelve points per match in those three encounters. Twelve points will not be nearly enough for New South Wales.
Traders have a number of betting options available to them and all will involve betting Queensland to win and win well. Queensland at anything better than 1.50 is a big bet in the Match Odds market while spotting 3 ½ points down to 1.72 is another wonderful play. A Queensland/Queensland half-time/full-time double at above 2.05 is another sound wager: Queensland have won their last three matches they have led at the break. The final bet is to play New South Wales under 16 ½ total points. Games at ANZ have been low scoring in recent times and with a possible backline reshuffle and the lack of practice time together, it is difficult to imagine the Blues constructing too many tries.
This is Queensland's moment and Mal's boys will do it in style.