Albert Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If that’s true, well, we’re all fucked up.
We continually sit through hours and hours of sport, the majority of it bad. There a refereeing blunders, knock-ons galore, people pissing on fields, spear tackles, players diving…
What the fuck are we doing? Are we mad?
Yet it’s the same every weekend. We watch every game, even those we have no vested interest in. We get into wars on Twitter over this shit.
We watch too much bad sport, but we keep coming back because there’s a really small chance we can see something great.
I watch far too much bad basketball on the off-chance that I might get to see a Kobe 81-point game, a Larry Johnson four-point play or a 13-points-in-35-seconds barrage from Tracy McGrady.
I don’t care about State of Origin in the same way I care about the Roosters, but I watch for the slim chance I’ll see Mark Coyne score to win the game, or a Billy Slater kick and regather, or Andrew Johns destroy an opposition with the perfect game.
I watch Origin in the hope I see a performance like I did from Jarryd Hayne on Wednesday night.
If there was a big moment, he was there. He was the main man responsible for setting one up. He scored one himself when he had every right to be tackled. He broke through the line when the Blues were under the pump. He saved a try following a break from Greg Inglis when he effectively sacrificed his body — and no-one stops Greg Inglis at that speed.
He used his boot, the biggest in the game, to find grass when the Blues were forced by the Maroons to kick within their own 30. He played like a second five-eighth, tackled like a back-rower, cleaned up loose balls — he simply would not let the NSW squad lose in Queensland once again.
It was a complete performance that should — nay, WILL — go down in Origin history as a masterpiece, alongside Joey’s 2005 return.
Why he has been forced to play out of position on so many occasions at Origin level — in much the same way Andrew Johns inexplicably once was — is the most confounding part of the past eight years. His performance on Wednesday night makes those decisions seem even more ridiculous in retrospect.
It was a performance that reminds us why we watch sports.
Origin Halves — no looking back now, with good reason
It’s going to be a tough slog for Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney to get back into this Origin squad, as their “replacements” did exactly what was expected of them in the upset 12-8 win over the Queenslanders on Wednesday.
Josh Reynolds, in particular, provided everything the Blues have needed from their five-eighth: intensity, probing runs, solid (enough) kicking game and a never-give-up ethos.
He also did Josh Reynolds-type things (see: grub stuff) but you take the overwhelmingly good with the potentially awful. Every run he decided to make threatened to break a resolute line open, and it will be very hard to remove him from there.
He is very, VERY lucky to be available for Origin II. If you don’t think it’s bad, or the outcry is overrated, put one of the players from the Roosters (or your own club) on the receiving end.
But he got off, and as such he’ll be one of the first picked.
Hodkinson was solid without being spectacular, and perhaps that is all they ever really needed from their halfback. He was never touted as “the saviour” and never expected to dominate, or even come close.
And let’s face facts: Hodkinson didn’t exactly stand out in this one. He had a neat grubber for a repeat set in the first half and didn’t miss a tackle, and when the Blues were in territorial trouble it was their fullback who did the long-range kicking.
He was solid, not spectacular by any stretch; in other words, he played exactly how we wanted him to.
The Bulldogs halves are here to stay for at least this series and, if they win, even longer. They deserve it after an incredible first-up win.
Aidan Guerra is an Origin Player; Is Tupou?
Surprisingly, the Roosters’ best player in Origin came from the losing squad in a performance that showed his selection wasn’t a reward for playing with the premiers.
Aidan Guerra was simply outstanding in limited minutes for the Maroons, nearly scoring a try and repeatedly hammering the Blues with tough defence and metre-making charges. He, along with Matt Gillett, became the unexpected enforcers towards the end of the game when the Queenslanders desperately tried to force an error and both were their squad’s best backrowers.
He’s done enough to keep his spot even when Sam Thaiday comes back, as he was far better than the great urban myth, Josh Papalii.
Jennings was bottled up but has a Blues Jersey for as long as he wants it based on past performances. He had a few key darts and did what he could with limited ball, and acted as a blocker for his winger.
Did Tupou do enough to guarantee selection for the next two games? His running game was fine especially once the intensity of the opening 20 minutes dissipated and his nerves subsided, but he made four errors including dropping two bombs.
He would have come under fire had the Blues lost, with Merritt comparisons likely to ensue. But thankfully they won and he should be able to retain a berth. He was much better in the second half — a dropped bomb notwithstanding — than he was in the first, and will be much better in Game II for the experience.
Morts heading to Canberra?
Reports surfaced on Wednesday that Daniel Mortimer is being chased by the Canberra Raiders, and that the Roosters won’t stand in his way if he wanted to leave.
I haven’t heard anything, and the next time the source of the original story is correct, it will be the first. But I wouldn’t begrudge Morts looking for an opportunity elsewhere.
Morts was used primarily as the back up to Jake Friend last year and as insurance for injuries in the halves, but didn’t even get a start during Pearce’s suspension two weeks ago. This year he has barely scored a run in grade, averaging less than 20 minutes in seven games.
To be honest, using him off the bench last season was a luxury the Roosters could afford. The game was slower and the forwards could go longer; it gave Friend a rare spell and the Roosters a fresh player to make a few darts.
But the game is too quick to save a spot on the bench for a backup of a player who can go the 80, as the need for size off the bench is critical. The Roosters should let him go if a club in need comes calling, because he’s done everything asked of him with a smile on his face.
He’s twice the player he was when he first arrived. His kicking game is solid, he’s a better organiser and he’s won two premierships (Jets and Roosters). He remains a fantastic support player and the ultimate teammate, and he’s proven he’s versatile.
The Roosters have Jackson Hastings (although he’s currently injured) should they need an emergency back-up anyway, and Morts has earned the chance to prove himself capable of leading a club around on a regular basis.