State of Origin 2 – 2008: Scott Prince Returns

9 06 2008

FINALLY, Scott Prince is in the Queensland State of Origin side after a ten match absence, even if it is due to an ongoing injury to skipper, Darren Lockyer. Lockyer pulled out of Wednesday night’s game on Sunday after trying to give his knee as much time as possible to come good for the return bout at Suncorp Stadium.

One of the reasons given by selectors for not including Prince in game 1 is that he is, apparently, a poor defender. Granted, he doesn’t average as many tackles per game as some halfbacks in the NRL but it isn’t his job to make 30 tackles a game. However, the effectiveness of his defence (77%) is only marginally worse than his New South Wales counterpart Wallace (79%) but better than the guy he is replacing, Lockyer (74%) and Thurston (75%) and on a par with Greg Bird when playing 5/8. It doesn’t seem like sound reasoning to me.

He is a genius with the ball in hand and is in the top three halfbacks for try assists and line break assists, and has one of the lowest error counts and penalties conceded. In fact, I think Queensland will lose nothing with Lockyer unavailable and Thurston and Prince in the halves. It will give them real creativity either side of the ruck, great kicking options and yet another goal kicker.

New South Wales welcome back arguably the best fullback in the competition with Kirt Gidley named on the bench for the Blues. He has averaged nearly 200 metres per game this season at fullback and the second best on kick return metres. Gidley’s fitness is one of his trade marks and defencively he is as sound as any other at the back. His previous placement in the halves for Newcastle makes him ideal for a bench spot. He can make good metres playing closer in, is capable of a high defencive workload and is as creative as any halffback or 5/8 in the NRL. He will be the danger man.

The major concern for the Maroons faithful is debutant Darius Boyd. With Steven Bell now back to full fitness with the Sea Eagles, this seems almost as silly a selection as Hunt over Prince in the halves for game 1. Bell has played Origin five times and has never had a bad game. This would have kept Brent Tate on the wing and given Cam Smith another familiar face in the centres.

I don’t think it is a decision that will cost Queensland the game but I know i am not alone in my amazement that the Queensland selectors would choose a game that the Maroons must win, with Lockyer always in doubt, in which to debut a young player when someone with the experience of Steve Bell is sitting on the side lines.

The teams will line up like this:

Queensland

Position

New South Wales

Billy Slater

1. Fullback

Brett Stewart

Darius Boyd

2. Wing

Steve Turner

Greg Inglis

3. Centre

Mark Gasnier

Brent Tate

4. Centre

Matt Cooper

Israel Folau

5. Wing

Anthony Quinn

Johnathan Thurston

6. Five Eighth

Greg Bird

Scott Prince

7. Halfback

Peter Wallace

Steve Price

8. Prop

Brett White

Cam Smith

9. Hooker

Danny Buderus

Petero Civoniceva

10. Prop

Craig Fitzgibbon

Michael Crocker

11. Second Row

Ryan Hoffman

Sam Thaiday

12. Second Row

Willie Mason

Dallas Johnson

13. Lock

Paul Gallen

Karmichael Hunt

14. Interchange

Anthony Laffranchi

Nate Myles

15. Interchange

Anthony Tupou

Ben Hannant

16. Interchange

Steve Simpson

Ashley Harrison

17. Interchange

Kirt Gidley

Mal Meninga

Coach

Craig Bellamy

With Queensland also welcoming back their other work horse prop, Steve Price, things should be a little different in the forwards this time around. With him and Civoniceva in the side, even without Lockyer, Queensland’s chances of a win to force a decider increase dramatically.

It will again be the ball playing of the Blues’ back rowers and their defencive line speed that will have the greatest effect on the Maroons. Queensland has to come out and match the early barrage that New South Wales launched in game 1. If they don’t get into the game early then New South Wales will go into game three looking to wrap up a 3 – 0 whitewash.

Game 1 Highlights

Queensland to win game 2 by 6.

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2 responses

11 06 2008
Dan Yarrow

The Prince JT combo rolled them… good move to interchange the way they did… 30 zip .. they played well.. lets see if they can bring that to Game 3 !!

11 06 2008
bigredman

Hell yeah Dan. Darren who?

Surprised Inglis got man of the match though given Brent Tate’s workload. And how about Hunt’s hit on Bird? KABANG!!!!

Was great to see a true halves combination rather than the made up one of game one and the last three for NSW. Bird proved tonight he is no 5/8 and that his defence in the halves is a rwal concern. Both Prince and JT finished with 90%+ effectiveness in defence based on initial stats.

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