Todd looks good for his first Blues jersey but really he needs to be great
SET OF SIX
Todd Carney ... no shoo-in for Origin ... yet. Photo: Getty Images
1. TODD Carney might think he's ready for State of Origin, but in reality he isn't. Not yet. He needs to produce a much higher degree of quality involvement in games before he can command the NSW five-eighth spot. Origin, as any player who has experienced it will tell you, goes so quickly that if you don't make sure you get involved early, there is a good chance you won't get involved much at all. Carney has shown encouraging signs since he joined Cronulla, but at his best this year he's been good, rather than great. Two years ago, when he was playing for the Sydney Roosters and won the competition's Dally M player-of-the-year award, he was consistently great. There were again some good touches from Carney in the game against St George Illawarra, but it was a game in which defence ruled and no individual took charge in attack. By far the biggest reason the Sharks have performed so well this season has been the contribution of Paul Gallen. He is a lesson in quality involvement, and they wouldn't be sitting on half of their four wins without him. Of course Carney wants to play Origin. Who doesn't? And the truth is Carney, in his best form, would pick himself and give the Blues a great chance of winning the series. But wanting to play Origin and being ready to play it are two very different things. The jumper is there for Carney if he wants it. But he has got to prove he deserves it, by dominating.
2. TIM Moltzen is entitled to be nervous about his future. He could be in the first year of a three-year deal with St George Illawarra, but instead he's in the last year of a contract with Wests Tigers and his form is poor. The Tigers, when it suited them, took advantage of the fact Moltzen didn't want to leave the club and refused him a release to the Dragons, but the last time I checked there is nothing in the club guidelines encouraging them to offer contracts to players based on sentimental reasons. What Moltzen will be doing this time next year is anyone's guess but no one would be rushing to offer him a contract based on what we've seen so far this season.
Under pressure ... Benji Marshall. Photo: Getty Images
3. ANTHONY Griffin is the coach of the year in the NRL - so far. There were fears in the wake of superstar Darren Lockyer's retirement the Broncos would have to take a step back before they could go forward again, but Griffin has done a great job of steering them into the post-Lockyer era. After six rounds the Broncos have a 5-1 record and Corey Norman is doing a terrific job at five-eighth. Griffin is contracted until the end of next season, but it's not too early to extend someone who is clearly doing a great job. The word is out there in league circles the Brisbane management are yet to offer Griffin an extension, and if the word is circulating it means there is outside interest in Griffin. Brisbane have a tremendous record of being able to reactivate themselves quickly after a champion player retires or moves on. Wally Lewis left at the end of 1990 and they won the premiership in 1992. Allan Langer quit midway through the 1999 season and they won the competition the following year.
4. WHEN you line up Ben Te'o's tackle on Matt Groat against Frank Pritchard's tackle on David Simmons, Te'o's hit is worse. He lined up Groat for a shoulder charge that went wrong in the game between Brisbane and Wests Tigers, while Canterbury's Pritchard had less time to think about it before his shoulder charge flattened Simmons in the first round. But even if Te'o were to get a grade-two careless high-tackle charge, an early guilty plea would see him avoid a suspension because he has a good record. Pritchard had form at the judiciary, which ensured a one-match suspension on a grade-one careless high-tackle charge whether he entered an early guilty plea or was found guilty. Now there is a debate about whether shoulder charges should be banned from the game. You don't have to ban them - start charging a few as reckless, bringing the possibility of longer suspensions, and players will soon have second thoughts about doing them. Shoulder charges are OK if you get them right - but that isn't easy.
5. THE statistic that says teams with 1-5 starts to the season can't win the premiership will stand up again this season. It's a given with Parramatta and Gold Coast - their records are indicative of the fact they are simply not good enough - and that leaves us with Wests Tigers. They have made great recoveries from poor runs of form in the past, and their fans will be hanging on to the hope they can do it again, but there are too many negatives standing in their way this season. They began the season hoping young James Tedesco would be a hit at fullback and Tim Moltzen at halfback, but Tedesco went down with a season-ending injury in the first round and Moltzen has lost confidence. When the Tigers won the premiership in 2005, they had Brett Hodgson at fullback, Benji Marshall at five-eighth, Scott Prince at halfback and Robbie Farah at hooker. Their spine is now bent. It's going to be up to Marshall and Farah to conjure something incredible if they are to win the premiership, but that is too much to ask - even from players as good as them.
6. WE should spare Nathan Hindmarsh from having to bare his increasingly tortured soul at post-match media conferences. He deserves to go out of the game on a massive high, but the form of his Parramatta team is such there is no way it is going to happen. Avoiding the wooden spoon would be a good result for them, the way they're going. Hindmarsh had no answers as to why the Eels served up what they did against Newcastle yesterday. He was simply gutted.
Poll: Who should be the Blues's five-eighth?
- Todd Carney
- Jamie Soward
- James Maloney
- Terry Campese
- Jarrod Mullen
Total votes: 3742.
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Poll closed 16 Apr, 2012
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