Robbie Farah’s dramatic decline as a dominant playmaker looms as a potential Achilles heel for NSW in State of Origin I on Wednesday night.
Blues hooker Farah has been involved in only two tries, from two try assists, in his seven NRL games for Wests Tigers this year, according to Fox Sports Stats. It is an output well below his offensive best.
That compares to 13 try involvements from 11 NRL games this year from his Queensland dummy half counterpart Cameron Smith.
The Blues have consistently struggled to score points under coach Laurie Daley, recording just 16 tries in nine games since he took over in 2013.
The selections of James Maloney, Matt Moylan and Dylan Walker indicate Daley could move to a more expansive game plan. But Farah’s inclusion may hinder that.
His efforts for the Tigers this year in terms of his attack are well down on 2015, when he managed eight try assists and two tries in 17 NRL games.
And that is well down on his prime in 2010, when he notched up 23 try assists and six tries in 27 games.
Farah’s attacking malaise is indicative of lesser attacking thrust in the Blues spine when compared to that of Queensland.
Queensland’s quintet of Smith, Thurston, Cronk and Boyd have registered 78 try involvements in 44 games this year at an average of 1.8 per game. Thurston leads the way with 29 in 11 games.
But NSW’s spine of Farah, Adam Reynolds, Maloney and Moylan have registered 44 in 31 games at an average of 1.4 per NRL game. Maloney is the Blues best with 19 try involvements in 11 games.
Given that Origin fixtures are traditionally lower scoring affairs than first grade matches, that could be the difference between winning and losing game one.
That coupled with the long-time understanding Smith, Cronk and Thurston have due to the number of Origin games they have played together, gives Queensland a significant edge in attack.
In contrast, the Blues quintet have never played together and have had just three major training sessions to find Common ground.
Either way Farah remains a key component of the Blues set up in Origin I and has set his sights on playing the entire match.
“I am expecting to play 80,” Farah said.
“But that is the good thing about having a utility on the bench like Dylan Walker who can come on and play a number of positions with the limited interchange.
“If you do lose a player through injury you need to be able to cover that.”
TRY INVOLVEMENTS IN THE NRL THIS YEAR FROM ORIGIN’S PLAYMAKERS
Johnathan Thurston: 29 (one try, 17 try assists and 11 contributions) from 11 games
James Maloney: 19 (four tries, seven try assists and eight contributions) from 11 games
Michael Morgan: 18 (seven tries, eight try assists, and three contributions) from 11 games
Cooper Cronk: 18 (six tries, 10 try assists, and two contributions) from 11 games
Cameron Smith: 13 (eight try assists and five contributions) from 11 games
Adam Reynolds: 12: (one try, nine try assists and two contributions) from 12 games
Matt Moylan: 11 (one try, eight try assists and two contributions) from seven games
Robbie Farah: 2 (two try assists) from seven games
* Source: Fox Sports Stats