Origin Preview 1: Maloney, Pearce need to run it more — and they know it.

Source: Daily Telegraph.

The NSW halves pairing of James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce were superb in Game One of the 2013 Origin Series.

26 Rounds gave Maloney a B for his performance; while he came out all guns blazing he was a little bit quieter in the second half than in the first when he broke the line and looked dangerous with every touch.

Meanwhile, this writer gave Pearce an A. He directed the team around like a composer and his combination on the right edge with Luke Lewis was near-unstoppable, with Lewis crediting MP7 during his Man of the Match interview and the next day.

But tellingly, both players said they need to run the ball more if they are a chance of winning.

As Pearce told the Australian:

“I think what we did really well (in Origin I) was we kicked really well, we controlled the game,” Pearce said.

“But I think we’re going to have to add a bit more polish to our sets and do things better.

“We’re going to have to ask them more questions and score more points because they’re going to come hunting.

“If you’re playing out of your own end you’re not going to be running the ball for the sake of it like a front-rower. In the second half (of Origin I) there wasn’t a lot of chances because we dropped a lot of ball.

“But I think there’s going to be opportunities for me and Jimmy to run if we can mount some pressure.

“We got a good jump on them early in the last game and I have no doubt it’s their plan to do the same to us.”

Source: NRL.

He’s right. While Pearce took it to the line and passed within it on countless occasions, and Maloney broke the line and kicked well, both players combined to run it just four times for 62 metres, the majority of those metres coming off the line break from the BBQ.

Their counterparts, Cooper Cronk and Jonathan Thurston, combined to run it 15 times for 112 metres, and while they ended up losing, in the second half they took control and made a game of what was looking like a one-sided contest.

Maloney especially needs to run it more, and back up the likes of Gallen, Lewis and Fifta where possible. The BBQ’s biggest strength has always been his support play and running game, while Mitch can be used to take care of the general direction of the squad.

As Mitch said in the interview with The Australian (full story below), you shouldn’t just run for the sake of it — and MP7’s stats from that game are deceptive as he ran right to the line often before passing at the last minute.

But both players have the zip and strength possible to take the line on to great effect. And they’ll face a halves pairing that is fit (Thurston played clearly injured in the last game)  and playing in front of a huge crowd.

From The Australian:

NSW halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney are coming off an assured performance in the opening State of Origin game but Pearce believes the pair will need to do things better — and possibly unleash their running games — if the Blues are to wrap up the series at a seething Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.

“I think what we did really well (in Origin I) was we kicked really well, we controlled the game,” Pearce said.

“But I think we’re going to have to add a bit more polish to our sets and do things better.

“We’re going to have to ask them more questions and score more points because they’re going to come hunting.

“If you’re playing out of your own end you’re not going to be running the ball for the sake of it like a front-rower. In the second half (of Origin I) there wasn’t a lot of chances because we dropped a lot of ball.

“But I think there’s going to be opportunities for me and Jimmy to run if we can mount some pressure.

“We got a good jump on them early in the last game and I have no doubt it’s their plan to do the same to us.”

Pearce only ran the ball twice in the opening game for the princely total of 17 metres. Maloney was more active, running four times for 62m. Significantly, he broke the line in the first half when he sliced between Queensland forwards Matt Scott and Sam Thaiday.

“I think sometimes in the media (there’s a perception that) someone needs to run the ball,” Pearce said.

“There’s some games where I have seen (Johnathan) Thurston or (Cooper) Cronk, they have had two runs but they’re effective runs and they’re taking the line on at the right time.

“I don’t think it’s running for the sake of it. But it’s running at the right times and when it presents itself.

“I think I am identifying it a bit more, especially in Origin.

“Late in each half when they get tired, with the go forward we get, there will definitely be opportunities to take them on.”

Pearce also downplayed any suggestions of complacency and revealed the Blues would renew their tactic of kicking high to Queensland fullback Billy Slater, a move which allowed NSW defenders to circle the Maroons’ No 1 by the time the ball arrived.

“It’s just human nature to come off a big win and think it’s going to happen again,” Pearce said.

“But that’s something our coaches drive at the Roosters.

“The reason you get the big wins is because of the hard work you put in.

“Every game is different. You can’t go in under an illusion that you can roll up and it will happen again. It’s going to be a completely different scenario.

“For all we know, we could be on our line for 20 minutes at the start. Or we could be down their end.”

via Mitchell Pearce, James Maloney prepared to play running game for Blues | The Australian.


9 responses to “Origin Preview 1: Maloney, Pearce need to run it more — and they know it.

  1. If I’m to be at all critical of MP7 it is that sometimes he fails to build to his impact by taunting defences, keeping them guessing and in two minds. More often he settles into a style of game concentrating only on what’s before him and seemingly preoccupied with providing those around him with the best of the opportunities he creates. I’d like to see him on such occasions catch the opposition out by using the less likely play available to him, but this of course requires others be on the same page and assisting to create the required deception. Luke Lewis proved during the first SOO that MP7 has these other dimensions to his game and while you would expect Queensland to be awake to Lewis this time around, it does provide MP7 the perfect foil to go elsewhere when the time and setting is right.


    • I agree with the last point insofar that he’ll have to create somewhere else, so the challenge on such a big stage will be whether he is able to adapt on the fly. People will find out more about MP7 tonight than they did in game one, that’s for sure.

      Whether that’s through taking the road less travelled I.e. taking on the line himself, I guess we’ll find out as well.


  2. It is now seemingly a foregone conclusion that Queensland will take their 8th straight series win in Sydney in less than 3 weeks time. NSW are void of any patterns of play and go to options that can be relied upon to keep them in a game and in the wrestle. I feel for the NSW players in this regard with Daley and Stuart the sole blame preparing consecutive NSW sides that offer little more than an ad-lib style of football against a well drilled Qld opposition that grows year after year. Bellamy, considered a failure at this coaching level, is now vindicated.
    Much will be made of the poor kicking options (again) in the aftermath. Merritt will be crucified. The usual rollout of excuses by the insert-coach-name-here and so called andrew-johns-style-expert suggesting the home state advantage / momentum was just too much to overcome on the night, while the rhetoric re the ‘planning’ for game 3 in Sydney will focus on a few tweaks around the edges, getting back to basics topped with yet another dose of bonding blues brotherhood nonsense. Please!
    The future of SOO remaining a competitive series now rests with NSW identifying a suitable coach who is able to bring together an elite squad of players once a year with the ability to mould them into a competitive unit. And yes I do mean change the rule excluding non-current coaches from holding the post. WTF, surely coaches aspire to test themselves at an elite level also? But instead we have a situation where untried individuals have the running, looking only to bolster their credentials for a full-time NRL coaching gig off the back of gutsy but ill-advised playing personnel. If this is not the cart before the horse then more fool me. Such RL ‘wisdom’ should be stored at Lucas Heights indefinitely. The NRL would be wise to take note. IMO the situation has become this ridiculous. The immediate task is to instil some core values into a side and develop a style and set of plays that will provide a solid foundation and some benchmarks for the this and the subsequent squads on which to build. Mere talent and brawn of itself has proven insufficient to win such contests, 7 and soon to be 8 years running. You may have guessed by now I don’t buy the once-in-a-generation Maroon team malarkey either. The inability of NSW to identify and work on weakness within the current crop coupled with some extraordinarily poor selection options over the years continues to be the main problem when ad-lib football is your modus operandi and your only vision consists of the forest and not the trees.
    I can only hope the NRL is as bitter as I am given the current situation. Not for the loss, (congratulations must go to Qld for putting the kind of football on display one comes to expect at this level), but for the position the so called ‘visionaries’ have left us NSW supporters.


  3. While the disappointment is understandable, it’s important to remember how dominant the blues were in game 1. And they were; from the forwards to the play of the halves.
    We need to be mindful of making wholesale changes — but some extra grunt up front would be a start if they do decide to make some changes outside of the forced ones from games 1 to 2.
    Regarding the coach — It’s tough. We’ve had some real decent coaches at the helm to no avail: Bellamy comes to mind. So what do we do? do we hope that Gus comes back?
    The Queensland team is the single greatest collection of talent the game has ever seen outside of an Australian side, with at least four players bound for the hall of fame and maybe more — and at least three touted as possible immortals when their time is up (Slater, Smith, Inglis).

    We have Gallen.


  4. Not advocating for wholesale player changes here. In fact, ‘reckless’ selection gambles aside I have been reasonably happy with the NSW sides that have been chosen considering the talent that has been available. However talent playing out of position is another thing. And players asked to perform herculean tasks year after year without the necessary game structure or practised percentage plays in place borders on suicide. The ability to devise a counter game plan against what you rightly describe as perhaps ‘the greatest collection of talent’ or even so much as to identify a set of the most likely of plays is seemingly non-existent. The ‘foundation of what works’ as it’s often described by the enemy is lost on NSW. These things are sadly the hallmark of NSW sides of the last few years. Leave aside the focus and any possibility of winning the series for the moment and let me ask what has been the single biggest improvement in NSW over the last 5 series? What have they learned and how have they developed as a better side in which to go into the next battle? Having played a reasonably settled Qld squad over a number of series now one would expect the gap between the sides to have narrowed somewhat. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Nor is it the case that Qld’s ability to ambush an ‘unsuspecting’ NSW team is any less prevalent. So let me pre-empt your answer here and ask you, what cost and what amount of wasted player sacrifice over say the last 14 games that in the end we see no real development of a team?
    Let’s also put game one of the current series in perspective. Qld won the second half. And without trying to analyse what NSW did, or Qld didn’t do in determining the final outcome, Qld had corrected the problem by games end. Again my focus is not particularly the final result but the ability to identify and make the necessary adjustments to their play accordingly. Are Qld really that much better a team? You bet they are. From the coach to his support staff, tacticians, trainers, motivators, team admins down to and including their bus driver.
    Can refer to your ‘throwaway’ line and reply in kind with one of my own;
    We also have Fulton.


    • You mean Liam Fulton?

      I do think this is really Mitchell’s last chance to win an Origin series. At home, 1-1, with the crowd behind him, it’s also his best chance.

      And you’re right, not much has been learned. But also not much is made of the fact that this is the single greatest selection of talent NSW have come up against. It is nigh on impossible to beat this squad without luck, home field advantage and go forward. One of those is assured; one isn’t up to them; and one is totally up to them and depends on the right selections and the right start.


  5. Lol Liam. LMFAO…
    In fact I meant his dad.
    The ‘captains’ insistence and influence in certain player selections is nothing less than disgraceful.
    Re: MP7 I think you’re correct, but I also think that as he has matured and come to grips with his game, it is becoming clearer in his own mind that he is unable, if not impossible, to contribute in the kind of manner and style he is capable of to a NSW side prepared in the makeshift fashion that it is. I would not be the slightest bit surprised if he makes himself unavailable for selection for the 2014 series right after game 3 this year. In part, to clear his own head for the remainder of the NRL season with the Chooks, and so as not to deny Reynolds his opportunity to better fit the current NSW style. I don’t believe this would necessarily mean the end of MP7’s future selection chances for NSW either. But let’s wait and see on that one.
    Back to SOO as a competitive series, again one must first learn to walk. I’ve not dwelled at all on whether NSW win or lose. Of course I would dearly like to see them win, mainly for the playing group itself and for the sake of the many youngsters who have never known NSW to win a series. How would you fee if you were 8 years old? How would you feel if *somehow* Gallen is not selected for Australia at the next team announcement? Has Gallen performed *that* much better in consistently beaten and dominated sides? Is there not reasonable justification coming from *elsewhere* to maintain other established and well performed combinations?
    Questions like these are the little discussed implications glossed over by the constant talk of the quality, strength and performance that this champion Qld side commands. Next cab of the rank is the call for Queenslander’s to dominate Australian selection. The cab after that one idles for another 3 weeks, until it becomes ‘Not for Hire’ and automatically re-focuses on winning the series again in 2014.
    Meanwhile back at the Newport Arms life is good, life goes on. While somewhere in Queensland a youngster dreams of pulling on a maroon jersey and playing at Lang Park one day.


    • Fair call all. And yes, its the great untold story that gallen has failed to win an origin series as captain; MP7 shoulders the blame all the time despite very solid showings. I do hope they win for his sake because this is honestly his final shot at it.


  6. I don’t want to labour this but could not resist this gem from Dugan;

    “Yeah I think so,” Dugan said, if he and Hayne could run on together. “I’m not too sure what the selectors are thinking. I’d love to stay at fullback. In saying that Jarryd had a great game in game one so that’s not for me or Jarryd to decide. It’s up to Loz [Daley] and the selectors.”

    Now try to imagine the same scenario…
    Cherry-Evans re: Thurston.
    Barba re: Slater
    Boyd re: Hodges

    Verbally laying claim whilst playing in a care-taker role… WTF?
    Unless there’s some obscure advantage to be had playing more than one fullback, in which case we should recall Minichello, reinstate Stewart and play all 4 in SOO III.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/hayne-and-dugan-go-in-the-mix-in-quest-to-add-more-zest-to-series-decider-20130627-2p023.html#ixzz2XQFgFvih


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