Q& A

PETER STER­LING, STATE OF ORI­GIN

Geelong Advertiser - TV Guide - - Q& A -

The 2009 State of Ori­gin se­ries kicks off on Wed­nes­day, June 3 at Mel­bourne’s Eti­had Sta­dium – the fi rst time a se­ries has started out­side of the ri­val states – and once again Nine will be pro­vid­ing in-depth cov­er­age from an in­formed team of ex­perts.

In the crowded Wide World of Sports com­men­tary box will be the col­lec­tive knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of Ray War­ren, Phil Gould, An­drew Johns, Wally Lewis and Ben Ikin. And, of course, leg­endary Par­ra­matta half­back and for­mer NRL Footy Show host Peter “ Sterlo” Ster­ling, who off ered th­ese in­sights into this year’s se­ries.

Sterlo, is be­ing named in a state team one of the high­est hon­ours for a player?

The main hon­our, I think, will al­ways be to be named an Aus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tive. But the State of Ori­gin se­ries tends to be tougher foot­ball, and the foot­ball we see at State of Ori­gin level is prob­a­bly our best foot­ball. It’s ob­vi­ously very ex­cit­ing for any young player who gets the op­por­tu­nity to take part.

Are there many new ad­di­tions to the New South Wales and Queens­land teams this year?

There will be for NSW. Queens­land is in an amaz­ing po­si­tion at the mo­ment – their back­line is the Aus­tralian back­line. We played a Test match against New Zealand a cou­ple of weeks ago, and it was the fi rst time since 1924 that our na­tional side’s back­line was a sin­gle team’s back­line. There are a cou­ple of un­be­liev­ably classy play­ers who can’t break into that back­line, play­ers such as Karmichael Hunt and Scott Prince. So Queens­land goes in dis­tinct favourites. They’ve won the last three se­ries [ un­der coach Mal Meninga]; they’re looking to win an un­prece­dented fourth se­ries in a row. No state has won four in a row in the 30-year his­tory of State of Ori­gin, so it shows the qual­ity of the Queens­land side, es­pe­cially when you con­sider they have a much smaller pool of play­ers to choose from.

How are both sides looking, com­ing into game one?

NSW, hav­ing lost the last three se­ries, is up against it. A cou­ple of weeks ago, NSW coach Craig Bel­lamy chose a 40-man squad – you can tell from that squad that there are a lot of new faces in there and it’ll be a new-look team. Now, Queens­land is in good form – its back­line is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and there are a cou­ple of front-row­ers in Steve Price and Petero Civon­iceva who are in their mid-30s and play­ing like they’re 21-year-olds. So the nu­cleus of the Queens­land side is re­mark­able at the mo­ment. It’s a big test for NSW but there are some ex­cit­ing youngsters com­ing through and they might be given the op­por­tu­nity to play be­cause what the team has pro­duced in the last three years hasn’t been good enough.

Are there any stand­outs to watch out for in this se­ries?

The most out­stand­ing new­com­ers are NSW’s Michael Jen­nings, a young cen­tre from Pen­rith – he’s ex­plo­sive but there is some con­cern about his de­fen­sive de­ci­sions. He can cer­tainly score a try but sav­ing a try is just as im­por­tant, so se­lec­tors have a tough choice to make there. There are a cou­ple of good young halves – NSW’s Peter Wal­lace played his fi rst Ori­gin game last year and got in­jured in that game but he’s shown very good form for Bris­bane this year, and there’s a young guy with a fa­mous sur­name – Terry Cam­pese, nephew of David. He plays for Can­berra, and they haven’t had a great sea­son so far, but his last 18 months have been su­perb. It looks like he’ll be pen­cilled in for a fi ve-eighth po­si­tion.

What are your thoughts on throw­ing young lions into the den of Ori­gin footy?

It’s fi ne to go in with a batch of new play­ers but the one thing that has been proven at this level is that ex­pe­ri­ence is in­valu­able. So the se­lec­tors have a tough job – they want to bring new tal­ent in but they have to re­alise that hav­ing a heap of young play­ers won’t get the job done.

So it seems like the smart money is on Queens­land. Could NSW pull off an up­set, though?

State of Ori­gin is full of up­sets. In 1995, Queens­land fi el­ded a side that was, with all due re­spect, full of ab­so­lute no-names and they won the se­ries three-nil. It’s one of the great shock up­sets in any sport, I think. That’s prob­a­bly the most out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of an up­set we’ve seen in State of Ori­gin but it seems that when­ever we talk about a state build­ing up a dy­nasty or string­ing to­gether a long se­ries of wins, it all of a sud­den turns around. And NSW will cer­tainly hope that’s the case. They’ll cer­tainly fi eld a team with great abil­ity but at the mo­ment Queens­land boasts the best play­ers in the game. The best play­ers don’t al­ways win, though.

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