Nothing better illustrated the difference in attitude between New South Wales and Queensland towards State of Origin then a Telstra Stadium not filled to capacity.
Here you had the biggest show in rugby league in the biggest city in Australia at a state-of-the-art facility, and they didn't even go close to posting the "house full" sign. What a disgrace! If you had the same size stadium in Brisbane, or anywhere in Queensland for that matter, they would have sold it out twice over.
I think the time has arrived where Queensland has earned the right to stage two of the three games every year as reward for their undying support and conversely it would be an apt punishment for the Blues supporters following their rank display of apathy towards an event that showcases the game's finest athletes. At worst, a game should go to Melbourne each year and not revert back to the original concept until such time as New South Wales has proved itself worthy for that to happen.
There should be an inquiry into why there wasn't a sellout crowd for Game II, when a victory was a must for the Blues to keep the series alive. Such an occurrence can't be allowed to be brushed away with a shrug of the shoulders from those responsible.
Now we're left with a dead rubber which for us Queensland fans is fine and dandy, we can just sit back, relax and look for the Maroons to belt the tripe out of the Blues, post a record win and sweep the series. For the New South Wales' fans, it's a case of cross everything and hope like blazes their side can stop the rot by jagging a win. And it will be a shock result if they do get up, cause let's be honest here, the scores in the first two games flattered the Blues. Given an even shake with the decisions in Game III and I see nothing but a rollicking victory for the Maroons regardless of who they send out in a Blues jumper.
Changes to the New South Wales' line-up is warranted and should occur, but all it will do is reduce the margin, won't reverse the result. Queensland are just that much better, and that trend will continue for some time to come unless they change the eligibility rules and draft in a Sonny Bill Williams and/or a Roy Asotasi.
Just on 2008, I cannot believe that Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy is being courted for the New South Wales' coaching position. The Blues' administration could not possibly be that dumb. Don't get me wrong, Bellamy is a terrific coach with a great career ahead of him, but the Blues must adopt the Queensland model if the want to give themselves the best chance of winning next year's series. By all means, have Bellamy as the assistant, he'd be perfect filling the role that Neil Henry does for Queensland. But the head coach to take on Mal Meninga head on, has to be someone not coaching in the NRL. How many times can you tell an organisation before it sinks in.
Just like Michael Hagan was a dud as Queensland coach because it pitted him against Andrew Johns, and Graham Murray has failed for the same reasons (Johnathan Thurston), Bellamy would be faced with the same divided loyalty dilemma with chief playmaker Cameron Smith and excitement machine Greg Inglis, being key figures in the Queensland side. Toss in the real prospect of other Storm troopers in the shape of Israel Folau, Michael Crocker, Dallas Johnson, Antonio Kaufusi and perhaps even Cooper Cronk also being selected for the Maroons, and it's a recipe for disaster.
Can you honestly picture this scenario if Bellamy was appointed Blues coach: "Guys I want you to smash Smith out of the game and make sure you belt Inglis and Folau when they're running the ball back!" Hmm, nah!
New South Wales has a host of candidates who would do an admirable job in the head coaching role. Brett Kenny, Peter Sterling, Blocker Roach, The Wok, Gus Gould, Laurie Daley, to name but a few.
It will be a tough assignment, but I firmly believe anyone of these men would gladly accept the challenge in a heartbeat if offered the position.
Whilst on Origin, as an exercise to underline the incredible depth at the disposal of the Maroons' selectors, I have come up with a Queensland side comprises not one player involved in this year's series thus far.
Fullback:- Bowen; wingers:- Folau and Williams; centres:- Slater and Rogers; 5/8 Burns; half:- Prince; lock:- Crocker; second row:- Thaiday and Parker; props:- Ross and Tronc; hooker:- Payne. Interchange:- Fien, Scott, Logan and Rovere, only joking and also I don't qualify on a number of grounds, least of all "ability". No, the fourth and final spot on the bench goes to a fresher than fresh, Flannery.
Oh, and one of the other reasons I wouldn't step up to plate, is due to self preservation given my honest appraisal of the New South Wales team would undoubtedly see some extra vim put into the tackle.
How do you think this team would go against the best that the Blues have got to offer? And should we introduce a triangular series to the Origin arena with the combatants being Queensland, Queensland A and New South Wales?
Me thinks however, the Blues hierarchy would put the codwash on that concept pronto for fear of it turning out like the cricket did a few years ago when Australia A met Australia in the final of the one day series. Perhaps Maroons' fans can just fantasise at such a prospect, whilst their Blues' counterpart can dread the thought.
Ahhh...some ideas are perfect one day, better the next!