State Of Origin
Right, it’s the day after State of Origin. Talk about it here. Sorry, everyone west of Broken Hill. For all your sport news needs, hit up news.com.au/sport.
But hey, it’s also over. Doneskies. The victor has been victorious.
What else is happening in your worlds today? What’s on your mind?
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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.
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Being a Queenslander is something altogether greater than being a mere Australian. It allows us to regularly embrace mighty achievements, something that the rest of Australia does not understand.
When 13 players enter the football cauldron in Brisbane for a State of Origin game they unite with the unique pride, spirit and camaraderie of what it means to be a Queenslander. This Queensland spirit is broader than football - there are many examples throughout Queensland history to typify it.
The recent release of the 2011 Australian Census data is a good starting point for illustrating why the rest of Australia fails to appreciate what sets Queenslanders apart.
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Rugby league is a rough and tumble sport. It never has had, never will have, the mass appeal to all echelons of society which the AFL enjoys, for the simple reason that league attracts hard men who don’t always manage to conduct themselves in the manner of a Maître d’.
League players tend to drink a bit. They’ll occasionally get into pub brawls and pee in inappropriate places. And man, can they murder the English language. (For the record guys, the correct past participle of the word “come” is “came”.)
But not all league players are ineducable thugs. In fact, many are much brighter than colleagues I’ve shared newsrooms with down the years. Just this weekend, rookie NSW prop Tim Grant revealed himself to be a man of supreme honesty, modesty and dignity. Another guy I’ve always liked and respected is Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah, whose mother, Sonia, passed away yesterday.
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A rugby league game happened last night, and at the risk of offending those who don’t care, which is bound to be at least half of you, we couldn’t resist embedding this hilarious video, which parodies QLD’s dodgy selection policy.
The video was made by Denis Carnahan, who’s a talented musician and bloody good bloke, even if he’s from Canberra.
Anyway, football schmootball. What else is on your mind today?
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If New South Wales fails to win tonight’s pivotal State of Origin match, let me tell you what the collective state mood will be tomorrow. It’ll be exactly the same. No one will be depressed, no one will feel less significant and by about 10 am, no one will even remember the result.
We New South Wales folk aren’t insecure or small-minded enough to pin our self-worth on the fortunes of a mere football team. We are the least chest-beating, biceps-flexing, horn-honking state in Australia for the very good reason that we know our state is clearly superior to all others.
Well, it is.
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We are taught early in life that we should not question authority. We must listen to our parents, our teachers and our uniformed sporting officials or face the awful consequences.
A little later on, we learn about a thing called the legal system. We learn that it has courts and that if you’re not happy with a court’s ruling, you can go to a higher court, and maybe even a higher one after that.
Not long afterwards, most of us end up owning a T-shirt emblazoned with the anarchy symbol, or the suave silhouette of Che Guevara. We then spend the rest of our lives jaywalking, texting while driving, putting tax returns in late and downloading whatever we can get our grubby little hands on.
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Football happened last night.
One colour reigned supreme. Or there was a draw. This open thread was written well before the game. Anyway, last night was effectively another epic clash in the eternal war between the primary colours blue and red. (Maroon, pah, it’s a variation of red). A war that has played out on several fronts: between Republicans and Democrats, Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, Manchester United and Manchester City.
And more. What’s your favourite blue versus red rivalry? And what other colourful things are happening in your lives?
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In the classic Hollywood sports flick script, a ragtag bunch of losers and misfits take on the arrogant team of pretty boys and spoilt brats. The bad kids then proceed to teach us all a lesson about sport, life and the triumph of the human spirit or some such baloney.
Act One of this script will be played out tonight. The arrogant pretty boys are Queensland, who have clearly superior players, yet whinge and exploit loopholes like only the privileged can.
NSW are the basket cases, with a team full of drunks, ex-jailbirds, thugs, head cases, and players hopelessly out of form. And the player in the best form of his career, Tigers skipper Robbie Farah, is unwanted and unloved by his own fans.
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They don’t play the AFL grand final in Sydney for the very good reason that the code’s sporting soul is located in Melbourne.
Wimbledon happens at Wimbledon, the Super Bowl takes place in various football-mad US cities, and the only reason they shifted the famous Dakar rally from the north African desert (to South America of all places) was that bandits kept terrorising competitors.
No one’s been terrorising anyone in Sydney or Brisbane lately, give or take a few feral bikies. So remind me again, why have we dumped one of the year’s showcase rugby league games on Melbourne for a seventh time?
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Two major events loom large on the rugby league horizon. On May 23, the first Origin match of 2012 will be played in Melbourne. But before that, and just as keenly anticipated, comes the NSW team selection.
It’s a game unto itself. A week from now, Bob Fulton, Bob McCarthy and Geoff Gerard will sit down and no doubt do the dumb thing they always do, which is picking guys they believe to be “Origin style players”.
Talk about an urban myth. I have watched every Origin match since 1980 through goggles tinted deep blue, and here’s what I’ve seen. Queensland players who star in the NRL also excel at Origin. There really is no magic success formula beyond that.
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After coaching the Queensland State of Origin team to a record sixth State of Origin win last week, Mal Meninga wrote a controversial Courier Mail column in which he essentially said “nyaah-nyaah-nee-nyaah-nyaah.”
He is also reported to have said “they said it first, Miss” and “I never” and “I know you are but what am I?”
Before taking up the Origin coaching role in 2006, Mr Meninga was previously known as the man with the shortest serious political career in history – yes, even shorter than Julia Gillard’s.
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“Sometimes you just can’t account for champions.”
With these words, uttered after Queensland’s first try, Nine commentator and rugby league ego-in-chief Phil Gould summed up why Queensland won State of Origin III, and with it, an unprecedented sixth straight series
That first try was so classy. Billy Slater slipped the ball away when held by two players, Johnathan Thurston held the ball just long enough to create confusion, then poked through a beautifully-weighted grubber for Greg Inglis. There wasn’t much room in the corner. Inglis never needs much room.
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NSW has the Snowies, Queensland’s got the Reef. We’ve got Byron Bay, they’ve got Noosa. Sydney has the Sydney Opera House, Queensland has, um, the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach. NSW has the tiny border town of Jennings, pop. 130, Queensland’s got the neighbouring town of Wallangarra, pop. 385.
Wallangwhere? Wallangarra, thank you very much, the town which is the symbolic home of the one Queensland commodity which NSW can never seem to match. Passion.
Wallangarra is where Qld State of Origin legend Billy Moore grew up. Actually, he was born in Tenterfield NSW, because the base hospital is closer than the one in Stanthorpe, on the Qld side of the border. But as Moore told The Punch this morning, “my Mum assures me I was rushed over the border before the oxygen had time to affect my lungs.”
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The State of Origin happened last night, and it’s fair to say The Punch Team sank a schooner or two as the Blues nearly won, but didn’t. Did you watch. Do you care?
What else is on your mind? You know how this works. Share it here. And be nice to those of us who are New South Welshies. Or don’t…
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In a startling and unprovoked piece of scapegoating, rugby league suit Geoff Carr telephoned Qld Origin star Greg Inglis this weekend to apologise “on behalf of the game” for the Andrew Johns racial slur
But the game itself has lashed back at Mr Carr for implicating it in the latest Johns brothers misdemeanour.
“Nope. Nuh-uh. No way known should anyone have apologised on my behalf,” the 13-a-side code told this website this week.
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Update: Blues lost, again.
Tonight is game one of Rugby League’s State of Origin.
I don’t know about you but I’m pretty excited. Origin is still the best advert for the superiority of rugby league over its more cosmopolitan, but often boring cousin, union. The weather has been rubbish in Sydney which will make tonight’s game even more trench warfare like than usual.
Of course what we’re all hanging out for is a good fight, my contender for the best Origin fight in history goes back to 1984. They certainly don’t make them like this anymore, and I also love the fact that whoever made this video put a soundtrack to it. Keep an eye on a young Fatty looking for somebody to punch. Go Blues.
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THERE are certain things you’re supposed to say when people ask what makes you proud of your home state. Nice things like the shimmering Harbour, the Opera House, the SCG or the Olympics.
I would trade them all for the bloodied grin that Brett White gave Justin Hodges in the moments after knocking out Steve Price on Wednesday night.
As the flashy Hodges ranted about payback, positioning himself behind bigger teammates, White simply poked out his bloodied tongue and smiled, mocking Hodges for the pea-hearted, adolescent sook that he is.
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All the SoO II action with The Punch team and a few friends we’ve bribed with beer, live right here. Kick off is at 8pm.
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For centuries, humanity has grappled with some of the universe’s biggest conundrums.
An intelligent creator or a bunch of randomly evolving strands of DNA? The chicken or the egg? And why does Darren Lockyer have such a gravelly voice?
But there’s one mystery which has divided the great thinkers like no other. Do sporting coaches really make a difference?
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Despite the seemingly inoperable state that Rugby League can appear to be in at times, the advent of the three-match State of Origin manages to redeem it as an amazing sporting spectacle year after year. It is also a venue in which players are still given the green light to punch on.
Although nothing quite like this anymore (keep an eye on the Blue’s 13 whose idea of tackling is just to come in swining along with a young Paul Vautin)
This year the first match is in Melbourne and some deluded weirdos argue (see below) today that Origin has no place being played in AFL’s heartland. But I say let Origin be staqed in whatever city can guarantee a packed stadium of enthusiastic fans engaging in the lost art of interstate hatred. Furthermore if Melbourne wants an annual Origin clash we should give them one.
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Tonight State of Origin travels south to Melbourne. It should be the last time it does so.
Sure, it’ll be a great chance for the several dozen Melbourne Storm fans to get together, along with several thousand ambivalent corporates who will be chatting over Crownies about whether Terry Wallace jumped or was pushed as Richmond coach.
As a spectacle though it’s an insult to real league fans in Sydney and Brisbane - which offers nothing to Melburnians who simply don’t get the game, and will no doubt be shouting “high!” and “ball!” at inappropriate junctures tonight.
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