Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett says criticism of NSW’s team culture from Phil Gould are valid and the Blues lack a State of Origin plan.
Bennett says the Blues are in a similar situation to that Queensland found themselves in after a disastrous 2000 campaign, which ended in a 3-0 series whitewash and a humbling game three 56-16 defeat.
Gould slammed the Blues after the 26-16 game two loss at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday condemned them to a 10th series defeat in 11 years.
The former NSW coach said the Blues were being undermined by “selfishness” and not being allowed to develop a culture and chemistry to overcome Queensland.
Bennett, who took over for a third stint as Maroons coach following the 2000 disaster, says the foundations for Queensland’s decade of domination were established after that series.
“If you look at Queensland from 2001 onwards there was a hard core of players that were always in your team,” Bennett said.
“That allowed to keep the team pretty stable and not take a lot of bad losses, they lost some games but not really bad losses. NSW don’t seem to be able to do that.
“There’s a few there that have been there a while but they still can’t settle on a halfback/five-eighth combination, which I think really hurts them. I think they got it then all of a sudden they’ve gone somewhere else this year.”
Bennett says there’s no doubt Queensland have been blessed to possess talents such as Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis all at the same time.
The seven-time premiership winner says Queensland have had to endure times when they couldn’t match the talent NSW boasted, but have historically handled it better than the Blues.
“Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cam Smith, you put them in the NSW team – we’re in a very fortunate time because those guys are so good,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good players around them but they’re the keys to it.
“NSW in those key positions, just don’t have the quality that we have.”
Bennett also says NSW captain Paul Gallen deserves an Origin farewell despite speculation the Blues would be better off blooding a new player for next month’s game three in Sydney.
“You’re trying to create something within the team about consistency and how you treat players, your top players, and all that sort of stuff,” Bennett said.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take a bit of pain with that but it’s worthwhile because everyone sees how it’s done and it’s done properly.”