Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary and Blake Ferguson shape as possible beneficiaries of NSW’s record State of Origin thumping.
Blues coach Laurie Daley will once again drag his feet back to the drawing board this week, or maybe next, as he seeks to again find a way to defeat the formidable Queensland machine.
So dominant, so comprehensive, so overwhelming was the Maroons’ 52-6 win in the Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium that Blues fans would be forgiven if they begin to think last year’s series victory was nothing but a dream.
This was supposed to be a night in which the Blues rang in a new dynasty of their own against the ageing Queensland side. Instead it was the game’s elder statesmen such as the retiring Justin Hodges, Johnathan Thurston, man of the series Corey Parker and Cameron Smith who produced when it mattered most.
Time is on Daley’s side, he has a young squad and most of Queensland’s players probably only have a year left in them. Regardless, changes will need to be made for NSW.
Blues halves Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson were fantastic in game two, but lost their way in Origin I when it mattered and that was where the series was lost.
A number of injuries have played havoc with Reynolds’ season with South Sydney. But Daley has been keen before to lean on NRL club combinations and if he and Rabbitohs halves partner Keary start 2016 well they will both be right in the Origin mix.
Ferguson would have been a certain selection if not for a long-term foot injury and given Will Hopoate’s forgettable 2015 Origin series, the Parramatta utility will be lucky to hold his spot in the Blues side next year.
It will be 10 long months before NSW have the chance to atone for their Suncorp Stadium horror show. Daley said he will undergo a complete review of NSW’s preparation and urged his players to use that time to take the lessons from a very dark night for the Blues.
“There are a lot of young boys in the team, it is a good lesson, a really good lesson. They will be hungry next year and come back and have a crack,” Daley said.
“Twelve months time is too far out (to talk about changes), (but) we have grown as a team.
“I have to go back and look at everything because the indications were we were ready to go.”