I reckon if Queensland wins the Origin series next month the Wally Lewis Award for man of the series should go to Paul Gallen...
Earlier this week former Blues skipper Gallen did what he does best and shot his mouth off. First he told his radio audience that just a few weeks ago half of the Maroons squad didn’t have a snowball’s hope in hell of playing Origin this season. Then he followed up with what could yet prove to be the quote of the series: ‘I don’t see them getting close to the Blues to be honest.’
You could almost hear Wayne Bennett chuckling into his cornflakes at the team’s Gold Coast ‘bubble’. If there is anything a Queensland coach loves, it is to have his players written off before a ball has been kicked. Time and time again the Blues have been doing it, and time and time again they have wound up with egg on their faces. Back in 1987 when Bennett brought Alfie Langer into the side to replace the injured Mark Murray, Sydney league writer Peter Frilingos labelled it a ‘one way ticket to oblivion’.
Not so much. Queensland won the series 2-1, with Alfie man of the match in the decider. Then there was 1995 when former Blues skipper Benny Elias said the Maroons were so weak that the series shouldn’t even be played. ‘NSW could pick a B-side and still beat this mob,’ he said.
Again, not so much. Queensland won that series too – three-blot. Bennett loves to see his teams bagged in the media so much that when a New South Welshman doesn’t do it, he gets a Queenslander to fill the role. For years if Bennett thought his forwards weren’t fired up enough he’d ask former Maroons front rower Greg Dowling to tell a reporter they were a bunch of pussycats. It usually did the trick.
Bennett will be able to save the price of a phone call to Dowling this year. Gallen has done the job for him and I reckon we might just see the results on show when Suncorp Stadium hosts the final game of the series on November 18.
What do YOU reckon?