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Comment: Losing is a disease. Does Laurie have the cure?

The Roar The Roar 28/06/2016 Mary Konstantopoulos
Coach Laurie Daley of New South Wales. © Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images Coach Laurie Daley of New South Wales.

“Losing is a disease… as contagious as polio. Losing is a disease… as contagious as syphilis. Losing is a disease… as contagious as bubonic plague. Attacking one… but infecting all. But curable.”

This is a quote from one of my favourite movies of all time – the 1984 drama The Natural, starring Robert Redford. While that movie might be older than some of you (it is certainly older than me), the quote is very appropriate when we talk about the state of the NSW Blues at the moment.

NSW are absolutely infected with the disease known as losing. Will 2016 see the squad find a cure?

It’s been almost an entire week since State of Origin Game II. I was lucky enough to have been up at Suncorp Stadium and it’s true what they say, it is certainly an experience like no other.

Part of that is because Queenslanders really do love State of Origin much more than we do in New South Wales. Perhaps that’s what happens when you support a team that knows how to win. In Queensland, people wear their Maroons jerseys to work with pride.

In New South Wales, I get odd looks from co-workers when I wear my Blues scarf to work on Origin day. They may be looks of pity.

The experience in Brisbane was so exceptional in fact, that I wasn’t even disappointed when the Blues lost. Instead, I found myself caught up in a sea of Queensland emotion that didn’t quite extend to me applauding Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

But now that it has dawned on me that NSW has just succumbed to its 10th series loss in 11 years, I can’t get the words from The Natural out of my mind – or this quote either – “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Will insanity prevail for Game III or will Laurie Daley dare to do something different? The answer to this question very much depends on what Laurie’s position on loyalty is.

Laurie began to make his position clear after the siren sounded for Game II. Only moments after the Blues had gone down, Laurie fronted the media and declared that there would be no changes for Game III because his team wanted to win.

It’s a shame that wanting something does not always make it so.

Should Laurie Daley decide to field the same team in Game III, the only possible explanation is that it is a nod to loyalty and will give players like Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah, Michael Jennings and Greg Bird one last opportunity to run out in front of their home crowd.

Irrespective of what happens in Game III, this will be Paul Gallen’s final stand.

Despite my desire to win at least one game this series, I am a person that believes in loyalty and could completely understand why Laurie would choose to field the same team.

Even though Paul Gallen has been one of the most unsuccessful captains in Blues history, perhaps even State of Origin history, I think he has earned the right to lead the team out one more time. He may not have earnt much in terms of success and may have forgotten how heavy the trophy is, but I feel he has earnt an appearance in Game III at least.

Even though the other three players I mentioned have not made any declaration about whether they will be available for Origin next year, should Laurie select them for Game III, I am hopeful that it is also a nod to loyalty. This must be their last series, along with Gallen.

Michael Jennings in particular not only blew two try-scoring opportunities, but also had a hand in two of the Maroons tries. He should not play Origin again.

There are plenty of people who disagree with giving Gallen and Co. their final opportunity to celebrate with their home fans. Some have argued that to have a celebration, there needs to be something worth celebrating. We all know that there has been precious little to celebrate in the Blues dressing sheds over the last decade.

Instead, the argument is that Game III could be used as an opportunity to blood some new players and give them the Origin ‘experience’ before next year.

Daley made comments over the weekend suggesting that one of the reasons he was careful about blooding young players too early was because he was blooded too early and he felt like this had been detrimental to his career.

If there is one thing we have learned from this year’s series though, it is that the debutants selected were more than up for the challenge particularly Tyson Frizell and Greg Bird, who were among the best for the Blues last week.

While, blooding new players too early might be a potential risk, I hardly see the risk at giving players an opportunity in a game that means nothing. The alternative is far worse – exposing the newer members of the squad like Moylan and Mansour to three losses in a row and absolute Queensland dominance.

If this route is taken, this game should be promoted as an opportunity to give NSW Blues fans some hope for a win and some hope for a future rather than as a ‘farewell’ for one of the most unsuccessful State of Origin captains this state has ever seen.

Going back to the quote that I started this piece with, the important thing for coach Daley to remember is that while losing is a disease, it is most certainly curable.

I would be very keen to hear your thoughts though – do we make big changes for Game III or let Gallen run out one more time?

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