Thursday, 27 May 2010

I love State of Origin rugby league and my love affair has stood the test of time. The relationship has now lasted 30 years since its inception in 1980.

Me and a mate from Riversdale had our first OE way back then, when we followed the All Blacks on their Australian tour. With the three-test series tied at one-all heading into the Sydney Cricket Ground decider, you’d have thought the papers would have been all over the rugby.

But no, league hogged the headlines, with the first ever Origin game, sandwiched between the second and third tests, dominating the headlines.

Hardly surprising when such household names as Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis and Mal Meninga (Queensland) were up against the likes of Tom Raudonikis, Steve Rogers and Mick Cronin (NSW).

For the record the Cane Toads won 20-10 in front of 31,000 frothing fans at Lang Park, Brisbane, with Meninga celebrating his 20th birthday in style by kicking seven goals.

* Murray Deaker raised a very valid issue on his television show this week when he opined that Graham Henry was fawning over Sonny Bill Williams by driving his dodgy manager around half the country to peddle his client’s wares, in what appears to be a dance of the desperates.

The knowledgeable (that’s a euphemism for know-all) Deaker was right-on the money by suggesting some of our great coaches of yesteryear would sooner select Colin Farrell than resort to such reverence (my words, not his).

What happened to the good old days when it was the player’s job to impress (aka suck up to) the coach?

Surely the NZRU is taking a huge gamble if they’re hoping SBW will be a fix-all for a lack of genuine talent in the midfield. Wasn’t Luke McAlister supposed to do just that upon his return from the UK?

Graham, here’s an idea for you rather than running cap-in-hand to the over-hyped, over-paid SBW. Why not look a little closer to home and pick someone who has played a bit of footy with the obvious centre selection, Conrad Smith? Someone with experience, a solid defender, a great distributor and, most importantly, someone who is the equal of Smith in the IQ department.

Now that Richard Kahui is out of the No. 12 equation, the answer, Graham, is staring you in your grizzled-schoolteacher face. Hurricanes back-up midfielder Jason Kawau is your man!

Besides it’s about time Balfour got another All Black!


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