Queensland players Justin Hodges (left) and Greg Inglis celebrate following their State of Origin 3 match against New South Wales at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Queensland defeated NSW 21-20. (AAP IMAGE/DAVE HUNT)
NATIONAL: PHIL MUNDINE* presents his monthly round-up of the winners and losers in the world of Australian sport.
There is a song being played on eastern states’ airways in regards to the real origins of some of the NRL State of Origin representatives.
Is Auckland part of Queensland? Is Christchurch part of New South Wales?
Just how far can the rules be bent to allow someone to qualify for either team?
It appears that both states, one slightly more than the other, have decided that winning at all costs far surpasses the basis on which the title of “Origin” was born.
I suspect the NRL and NSW Rugby League are under pressure from their sponsors and fans to produce a winning team after a more than a half dozen seasons without a series win.
As usual the NSW team was based around the same old squad of players who have managed to drop the ball for the last six seasons, and now seven seasons.
Alas, the players with the talent to make a difference have either aged into retirement or given up the ghost of ever being selected on a regular basis (being regular enough to make an impact that is).
The selectors are now trying out a new group of up-and-coming players seemingly having decided it’s too late to start blooding the older stars.
This final 2012 match has shown that the proof is in the pudding, or damper according to your tastes.
Queensland selectors are also under the drum from their supporters but for an entirely different reason.
They just want to keep on winning.
For decades the cream of Queensland rugby league had been lured away to the richer NSW clubs and irony upon irony selected to play for NSW against Queensland and of course more often than not, hammering the Maroons.
Revenge is sweet for the Cane Toads and the longer it lasts the sweeter it is. Too bad Tiger Black is not here to see this turn of events.
NSW Rugby League and their sponsors have been flogging the living daylights out of anything slightly anti-Queensland and working on the frustrations of the Blues fans to keep them from becoming lackluster and stagnant.
Another series loss has only made it all the more tougher, and not just on the players, but also to stimulate an ever more fatalistic public.
I have this season and last seen Rugby League fanatics deserting their pubs and clubs at the beginning of the TV broadcast of a State of Origin game to head home with a “I’ve got to work tomorrow” excuse even considering that we have in the past stood six deep around the television watching to the final moments of even a dead rubber game.
I recall lobbying with others for my local club to buy or rent a larger screen TV just for the series.
If the NRL insists on having a game in Melbourne they might consider having the decider there so that all NSW and Queensland supporters can attend a home match while the series result is still in doubt.
The last two seasons had impressive wins for NSW in Sydney but the all-important final was played in Brisbane, a home ground advantage if ever there was one.
Now for the biggest question of all. When will Nathan Merritt become a regular NSW Blues team member?
Friday night lights
Am I alone in questioning what’s going on when Friday night NRL is reduced to one televised game and the other is replaced with a cricket match?
It is mid-footy season isn’t it?
With the AFL and the A-League knocking on their back door I hope the NRL are keeping a close watch.
Go the Tigers
In the AFL my mighty Richmond Tigers appear to have temporarily run out of steam.
After a couple of almighty victories which had me prematurely crowing (my apologies to Adelaide) the Tigers, they have lost that edge that makes the difference between a regular winner to an occasional winner.
The good news is there have been no great floggings but some very frustratingly close losses which experience has taught me will come back to haunt me, or us, Tigers come semi-final time.Congratulations to the Hawthorne Hawks who have hit the proverbial purple patch and are leaving a trail of destruction in their wake as they stampede towards the finals.
One successful pick out of my four or five for finals contention isn’t all that bad with the large amount of on-and-off again form being shown by the top eight or nine clubs.
That’s my get out of goal card and I am playing it early because as they say, my tipping has gone down the gurgler as of late and I don’t see a change coming soon.
The London Olympics are right on us and as I write we have already a couple of Aboriginal representatives in the Australian team, a couple of boxers, hockey players and of course basketball with the opportunity of more to come as the trials continue. Watch this space.
Aboriginal not Indigenous.
*Phil Mundine is a Bundjalung man, an avid sports-watcher and a legend of the NSW land rights network. He is also Tracker’s new sports editor.