To win Origin, NSW must lose its marbles
Blues second rower Greg Bird made a horrendous tactical error last week when he claimed that NSW would be the hungrier side in tomorrow’s State of Origin decider.
It is just plain stupid for any Blues player to question the passion and commitment of the Queensland team, particularly on the eve of such a monumentally important game. Nothing could be more certain to fire up the Maroons for a big performance.
But while Bird should have thought twice before supplying his opposition with extra motivation, his attitude is undoubtedly a model for the rest of the NSW team.
If every Blues player is thinking the same way then an earth-shattering upset could actually be on the cards tomorrow night.
All of the odds are stacked in the Maroons’ favour, of course.
The game is being played at Suncorp Stadium, which will obligingly transform into a seething cesspit of fifty thousand boisterous, bloodthirsty Queenslanders for the occasion.
It is worth remembering that throughout the entire history of Origin, only five teams have ever managed to win a deciding match in enemy territory.
Similarly, just five teams have managed to claim a series victory having lost the opening game. The Blues will be running into strong historical headwinds.
Not to mention the fact that their opposition is one of the most ruthless and talented rugby league sides ever assembled. What the Maroons lack in looks, they more than make up for in footballing lustre.
So the Blues are in fiercely unfriendly territory, are fighting against all historical precedent and are decidedly second best as a footy team, at least on paper.
That would seem to be a recipe for disaster.
But none of these factors will be more instrumental in determining the victor tomorrow night than a little thing called hunger. Greg Bird, being the fountain of wisdom that he is, clearly understands this.
Queenslanders long ago claimed a monopoly on passion in State of Origin. Their hatred for the cocky city slickers from down south is uniquely deranged, and I mean that as a compliment.
Few avid fans will ever forget the bitter wailing over Origin’s supposed death back in 2006, just before NSW was dethroned. The Blues were chasing four consecutive series wins that year. Yes, really. Look it up.
Such petulance from Queenslanders has always been run of the mill. Why do you think the Schoolies crowd is so attracted to the Sunshine State?
It is little wonder that Maroons fans are often labelled immature or even plain nuts on the other side of the border. But their various idiosyncrasies are simply a byproduct of the fact that they really do care more than your average Blues supporter.
Nobody in NSW has claimed that a seventh consecutive series victory for Queensland would spell death for Origin. Why not?
Your typical cockroach realises that life will continue after Wednesday night, win or lose. Even in the event of a humiliating defeat, Blues fans will wake up on Thursday morning and run off to their jobs as though nothing embarrassing ever happened.
It has to mean more than that. If beating Queensland is the aim of the game, then the people of NSW must finally sink to their opposition’s level of derangement.
They came close after that “try” was awarded to Greg Inglis in game one. The outrage nearly boiled over that night. So we know it is possible.
Screw maturity, patience and good grace. The Blues have been trying that for six years now, and no team coached by intemperate old Ricky Stuart should ever indulge in such nonsense anyway.
The Blues need to play as though the very survival of Origin depends upon their performance. They need to believe that the world will end if they fail.
Anything less, and the game will be lost before a ball is kicked.
Within an instant of Bird opening his mouth last week, any shortage of motivation in the Maroons’ camp disappeared. Come tomorrow night, the first order of business for the faithful at Suncorp Stadium will be to set the record straight.
It will all come down to who wants the victory more. So you NSW fans had better start praying for Greg Bird’s wrongheaded comments to be proven right.
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