Whoever gets the gig as the new NSW State of Origin Coach has just received a fantastic piece of news, and it didn’t really involve a NSW player.
The worst kept secret in Rugby League has been revealed with the news that the Sydney Roosters have found room under their salary sombrero, and have signed Cooper Cronk to a two-year deal.
So why is this great news to the new State of Origin coach?
The likely lineup at the Roosters is unlikely to have Mitchell Pearce playing half-back, which all but ends any chance he has to be picked as half for the Blues in next year’s series.
Queensland have picked Jonathon Thurston at five-eighth.
While he plays half for the Cowboys, I don’t think Pearce’s most ardent fans would put him in the same class as JT.
This will allow NSW to pick someone like Nathan Cleary, assuming that he continues his improved form next year.
Not only has Cleary demonstrated the ability to lead his forward pack around the park this year, but when the Panthers did get the ball over the stripe, Cleary turned four points into six with monotonous regularity.
For most Blues fans, who have questioned Laurie Daley’s decision to continue picking Pearce for NSW (despite his lack of results), this will be a Godsend.
The thing with Pearce is that he is a good club half who has failed to step up in the representative arena.
Sure, he had led the Roosters to a premiership and a few minor premierships.
But in the rough and tumble of origin, he has failed to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and deliver the results that Blues fans have been craving for the last decade.
When NSW have been under the pump and the fans screaming for their playmaker to step up and lead the team – Mitchell seems to have gone missing.
So 2019 may prove to be a decisive year for NSW fans.
Either we win the series, or have to find another scapegoat.
And remember, there is no such thing as too much sport.