Lateral thinking: Blues can give Maroons the run-around
Benji Marshall
May 20, 2012

There haven’t been many positives for NSW over six series of Queensland dominance. But there might be one chink in the northerners’ armour: I just wonder if the Maroons will be as desperate as the Blues this year.

I’m not saying Queensland will not be driven; there is no doubt they will be desperate to win a seventh straight series. But I feel NSW will be more desperate. I think Ricky Stuart has been saying the right things about the decisions he has made and the players he has picked, and I believe the Blues will win. I can only go off what I’m reading and seeing, but the way the Blues are talking, they have a quiet confidence.

It’s obvious they want to play some football this year and try to move the Queensland pack around. I really feel the ability to do that has been lacking in recent years. The Blues have attempted to go through the middle and have tried to dominate the big Queensland pack. When you play sides like Queensland, you need to move their big forwards around, making them work laterally so you can put pressure on them on the edges.

Sure, State of Origin games are won with great defence, but the way I see it, if you’re playing in the NRL, you can tackle. Good defence is all about attitude, so if Ricky picks players who can attack but have the right attitude, he will find the right balance. I think they’ll attack Queensland where they haven’t been attacked before. No NSW team has really tried to play footy on Queensland. That’s the way they can win.

I like the selections of Robbie Farah and Todd Carney. They will be able to fight attack with attack.

Queensland would love it if the Blues just tried to run straight at the big guys. As soon as you start to move the defensive line laterally, it pays dividends. They can open them up with Robbie creating opportunities.

Robbie has been wanting this since his last game for the Blues, in 2009. He didn’t enjoy the fact that he was not getting another chance to prove himself. He won’t let anyone down.

He is going through a tough time personally. I know what this means to Robbie and his mum.

The Blues also have try-scoring strike-power all across the park - the Stewart brothers, Greg Bird on the edges and Akuila Uate. Mitchell Pearce has started to find some form of late at halfback, while Todd has been one of the form halves in the competition so far this year.

I guess Todd had to. He has had a few chances and has been thrown a few lifelines; this was probably the last one. He has really made the most of it so far this year with Cronulla.

A quick note on the Wests Tigers’ win over the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night - I think it was our best win of the season. The Warriors are a good side, a big side, and we were missing three international forwards in Robbie, Gareth Ellis and Chris Heighington. I thought our young forwards really stood up, Aaron Woods in particular. I’m ecstatic he has been named 19th man for the Blues. I think he was unlucky to miss out in the first place. If he carries on the way he’s going, I dare say he’ll play some part in the State of Origin series.

There has been some focus on me switching to halfback. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. Not much has changed at all. Chris Lawrence didn’t want to wear the No.7 jumper, so I had to.

My job is hardly different. I might touch the ball a little more but that is not going to hurt my game. It should ensure I don’t go for the big plays so often, because I will be getting more touches and picking my plays a bit more. It hasn’t been one of my best starts to the season as I’m still feeling my way into it. But I think it’s slowly coming together for me and the team.

We’re winning, even though we are not playing very well. At this stage of the season, we just need to be winning. At the end of the year, you don’t look back at the margin.

As long as we start gaining momentum and are getting better each week, I’m comfortable with how we’re travelling.