The tried and true formula of the Queensland Maroons justifiably secured another State of Origin series victory at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Contentious penalties, players on report and squirrel grips all took centre stage but through it all, one of the country’s most consistent, skilful and exciting teams stepped up to be counted once again.
Whether you’re a one-eyed Blues supporter, a Maroons tragic to the point of still having to bang on about the refereeing regardless of your 50 point win, or even just a three-times-a-year Origin fan, no one can deny that Queensland’s golden generation have simply been too good for New South Wales for the best part of a decade.
One thing that seemed pretty clear to me was that when Cameron Smith retires, State of Origin is anyone’s game. Particularly when considering Wednesday certainly wasn’t an entirely grim scene for the Cockroaches.
Dylisappointing Walker got a chance to show what he could do when he was elevated to the Blues’ starting side, in place of the injured Josh Morris.
To the bloke’s credit, he was actually not all that bad. A few early fends aside, he did a pretty effective job of shutting down GI and offered something of a handy kicking and ball playing option on the edge.
Now all he has to do is add a little consistency to a solid performance like that and I might even consider him good enough to run on at NSW Cup level. Shan’t be playing beyond Game 3.
An undeniable win for the Blues was the emergence of Tyson Frizell and Jack Bird.
I was more confused than a homeless man on house arrest when Frizell wasn’t picked in 2015, so it certainly goes without saying that I was more excited than Rob Schneider receiving a call from Adam Sandler when he was confirmed for Game 2.
His defence was immense, the way he savaged the line was sensational and he gained plenty of metres up the middle from the outset. His 120kg frame even managed to run down a winger in a mercy dash back to his own try line. Shame on you, Dane Gagai. Oh wait.
By the sounds of things, Jack Bird was cockier than Ron Jeremy at a buffet in the lead-up to Wednesday and deary me, was it good to see a young lad’s actions finally live up to his words.
I’m pretty confident Justin Bieber was already four albums deep by the time this kid was born, but Bird was certainly the word several times throughout 25 minutes of debut game time.
Paul Gallen is already retiring from Origin at the end of the series, but if the Blues are seriously going to bridge the remainder of the gap then Robbie Farah and Greg Bird have to go.
They were game breakers once upon a time and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved them… when they were lining up for Pharaoh in the Imhotep Cup. Off to the greener pastures of obscurity with you, boys!
Spare me of people who say there is no such thing as a ‘dead rubber’ in a State of Origin series. I’m looking forward to being one of the twelve people that turn up to ANZ Stadium in three weeks.