Former New South Wales hero Steve Roach ignited one of the year’s spiciest debates last month by declaring Tigers hooker Robbie Farah was not “an Origin type player.”
This week’s announcement of the New South Wales team means that Farah is the Blues No 9 whether big Blocker likes it or not. For what it’s worth, I don’t like it one little bit.
The Blues have a backline potentially bristling with points. To beat Queensland, it needs a rock solid foundation up front and a steady supply of possession to and from the creative halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney.
Farah has always appealed to me as a flashy, instinctive club performer who has plenty of skill but can go to water when the acid is applied in games that matter most. At club level, he has been given an extraordinary liberty to do as he pleases irrespective of field position, the match plan or game status.
That may well suit Tim Sheens and the Tigers’ cavalier playing style but it doesn’t work at Origin level where a misdirected kick, pass or selfish dummy can cost a team the game and/or the series.
Farah pretty much got the job by default as coach Ricky Stuart was lining up Danny Buderus for New South Wales duty before injury struck the Newcastle veteran an untimely blow. Bulldogs rake Michael Ennis was also in contention but injury has clearly prevented him from showing his best form this season.
Now that he has the job, at least for the series opener in Melbourne, does anyone think Farah will change his natural game and become more of a team player than a soloist? Can he change his modus operandi to accommodate the richly gifted attacking men chosen specifically to outscore those marauding Maroons?
I believe Melbourne’s Ryan Hinchcliffe was the right man for the New South Wales job, even though he can’t get a start at No 9 with Cameron Smith running the show so well for the Storm, Queensland and Australia.
Hinchcliffe is a slick dummy half performer and I rate him a better defender than Farah. He knows precisely when to pass or go himself, he’s a superior team player.
How Farah performs in the searing heat that rises for every Origin series opener is sure to be a huge talking point before, during and after the May 23 battle at Etihad.
There are other players, especially from the Blues camp, who will attract heaps of column inches as well as radio and television airspace.
Todd Carney’s second (or is it third?) coming as a young man and a rugby league player is a truly great story. Remember this is his State of Origin debut and recall where he was in his personal and sporting life just six months ago.
While speaking of debutantes, is Manly’s mini-cement truck Jamie Buhrer up to Origin standard or will he become another selectors’ whim cast aside when they pick the side for Origin 2? I am a Buhrer fan and I think he’ll make it. He has easily passed every test set by the Sea Eagles and seems to play even harder when the going is toughest.
The choice of Dragons man Ben Creagh was puzzling. He was ineffective in last year’s Origin while in club football this year, he has scored three tries and made just one line break.
Creagh looks to have no semblance of a step or a swerve and will more than likely get creamed every time he touches the ball. It could be Blue Murder in footy boots.
Tony ‘T Rex’ Williams was a very interesting choice for the bench. It’s a huge gamble picking a footballer who has been without football for eight or nine weeks, but this man mountain has the ability to scatter the best laid defences at will.
The choice of Michael Jennings from Windsor Wolves ranks caused a predictable ruckus but he is super quick and a stepper – the type of player Justin Hodges struggles to contain.