With State of Origin Game 3 only days away, what can the Blues really do to reverse the trend in Game 2? While they won in Sydney – it was only by a small margin and the flood gates really opened up in Queensland for Game 2. The quality of the Queensland players shone through and the stop/start tactics – more based on prevention from NSW in the original game were now useless.
The NSW Blues should really look at starting the game with Kurt Gidley at fullback. Manly flyer Brett Stewart certainly hasn’t put a foot wrong, but his offensive impact has been limited at best so far in State of Origin.
Craig Bellamy could look to start Stewart on the bench and inject him when defence has tired, in a similar way Queensland smartly use Billy Slater.
Many believe that for Kurt Gidley to have a strong impact he needs to be out there for the full 80mins. This is how he does it for Newcastle on a weekly basis. The Queensland Origin side has four kickers in their team; Jonathon Thurston and Scott Prince on either side of the ruck and the Storm’s Cameron Smith can kick from dummy half, with Karmichael Â Hunt as a fallback.
For Game 3, NSW have only two genuine kickers in the side with Braith Anasta and Mitchell Pearce. Danny Buderus is not a noted kicker therefore putting a lot pressure on the new halves combination.
Although he has a good kicking game, Pearce will be under a lot of pressure as an Origin rookie and probably doesn’t have the distance kicking game under pressure that others possess.
This is where Gidley can play a crucial role.
Gidley not only has a good kicking game but he has the options and speed, thus he can run the ball as well when the situation arises.
The Sydney Roosters do score the majority of their tries through kicks, however Queensland won’t be easily beaten in the air on the fringes. Pearce and Anasta will certainly give the Maroons more to think about on final tackle plays.
Queensland have worked overtime to ensure high balls won’t be a problem and developed a good counter-strike from these attempts in Game 2.With Gidley starting the match it will help relieve pressure on both Anasta and Pearce from the outset. The more options NSW have on tackle 5, the more difficult the situation is for the Queenslanders to defend against. Having defenders in two minds, unsure whether to stay in the defence line or drop back – this could prove very handy for NSW.
NSW will lose nothing with Gidley at the back; his defence is sound and he is a good positional player, his speed is also comparable to Brett Stewart. He is the ace up the sleeve for the Blues.
Another player who was unlucky to have missed out on State of Origin selection is Sea Eagle Anthony Watmough . He has a strong running game and can tackle with aggression. Anthony Tupo is lucky to have retained his spot after having never really fired up at Origin level, he has lost that running edge and does come up with the odd error.
From a NSW point of view, a new look side was always going to find it tough against the quality of Queensland right across the park. In Game 1, NSW had the right mix of players to frustrate the Maroons. A solid gameplan from Craig Bellamy, carried out to the letter by players – it all worked.
With several key members from that NSW side now suspended or injured; the new look side has a huge task at hand. It will probably take more than a few positional changes to get this NSW side home, they will need a full house at ANZ Stadium and the bounce of the ball to come their way all night. Buckle up NSW, this is going to be tough.