Mmm… can you smell that? Appearing out of nowhere and filling your nostrils, like a walk past the Bakery? I’ll tell you what that stench is – fear.
The fear that you felt all last week that one of the key players from your club was going to step on the wrong divot and do his ACL during the City Country match in Mudgee. It didn’t happen this time, but the fear remains. You’d cop it if it happened in proper Origin. Maybe even during a Test (although probably not against a team like Samoa… or even Great Britain). But for this? That would be a bitter pill to swallow.
Unfortunately, the existence of this risk is unavoidable. The match can’t be played on a large cushioned mattress the size of a football field – they don’t have one in Mudgee. Each player who took the field on Sunday put themselves at this risk, unnecessary and pointless.
Ricky Stuart has said this would be a legitimate trial game for certain positions, but let’s be real – Josh McCrone would have to single-handedly score 40 points to put him in contention.
Some of the positional choices produced results that are interesting enough. BJ Leilua and Aaron Woods looked the goods, and Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney outplayed their halves contenders. The question is – couldn’t these players have impressed enough in the first 7 rounds of the season when there was something on the line, and not risked injury? If you can’t decide who the form players are based on their week to week performance with their clubs then you don’t deserve to be a selector.
Danny Buderus copped a significant amount of flak for his decision to take the Matt Cooper approach to City Country, but I believe more players should adopt this mantra. Think of the years Cooper has added to his career by conveniently injuring himself during the selection period, often making a remarkable, Lazarus-like recovery to back up the next weekend. Between 2005 and 2010 the centre could’ve played five games for Country, instead playing a grand total of zero (albeit missing one because he was representing Australia).
I’ll admit I’m a little biased. The Dragons had five key players selected for the game. I wanted to spend Sunday afternoon relaxing. Instead, I spent 80 minutes glued to the set in absolute agony waiting to hear Ray Warren mention someone limping in back play.
The country area of NSW is essential to League’s survival, but there’s got to be a better way to do things. Maybe we could have a country round when all the teams play in regional areas. NSW don’t need an extra trial match to beat Queensland. All we really need is 17 Paul Gallens.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAVE A RANT BELOW.