How our Origin stars have stolen finals
Another case of the Blues looms ... and we’re loving it
QUEENSLAND continues to smash the Blues with just one Sydney rugby league team battling it out against a multitude of Maroon superstars in this year’s NRL finals series.
Of the 27 players used by Queensland in this year’s threegame Origin series, either on the field or as 18th man, 22 are still in contention for an NRL premiership ring this season.
And injured superstar Johnathan Thurston (shoulder) continues to spur on the Cowboys from the sideline.
The NSW Origin team will have just three of its 17 players left to pull on a jersey this weekend.
Only three weeks ago, those south of the border were crowing about how this year’s finals series would belong to Sydney teams.
But when former NRL boss Dave Smith called Queensland the “heartland” of rugby league, he probably knew what he was saying.
Of the four teams left in contention for the 2017 title, just one hails from NSW, the Sydney Roosters.
Sydney sides have had their chances in the finals but the Cowboys have disposed of the Sharks and Eels, while the Broncos last Friday eliminated the Panthers.
Not only are the Broncos and Cowboys still well in the race, Queensland’s next favourite team, the Storm, remain hot favourites to lift the trophy.
The Queensland surge in the finals should come as no surprise as the Maroons have been so successful in the Origin arena again this year. Queensland rugby league great Gorden Tallis said the state’s finals domination was no surprise to him, given the experience of the Origin players.
While the Maroons had to blood eight debutants this year, Tallis said everyone who had worn the Queensland jersey knew what it was like to be a winner and step up in the big moment.
“This is why you want these guys playing Origin,” Tallis said. “All these guys, they know how to
win the big moments. This is the proof.
“Queensland doing so well is no surprise … it’s what you want from the game. It’s the National Rugby League, not the NSW Rugby League. “This is what you expect now.” The last all-Sydney grand final was in 2014 between the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs, after the Cowboys and Broncos starred in the big dance in 2015 and the Storm fell to the Sharks last year. Many are hoping for a repeat of the 2015 showdown between the two Queensland teams, a scenario that became very real after the Cowboys beat the Eels last Saturday.
Tallis said the Cowboys had the potential to destroy Sydney’s finals hopes against the Roosters.
And it is Townsville-born sensation Michael Morgan who Tallis believes will get them to the grand final on October 1.
“The real surprise packet for me this year is the Cowboys,” he said.
“The way Michael Morgan has improved as a playmaker, he’s been absolutely brilliant. He is a future Queensland captain.”
LOOK AT HIM NOW: Michael Morgan as a junior and (inset) celebrating a try in the Cowboys’ upset of the Eels on Saturday night.
WARM WELCOME: Jason Taumalolo (centre) and Corey Jensen arrive home in Townsville yesterday, flanked by assistant coach Josh Hannay (left). Picture: Zak Simmonds