Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

League: Daley's dilemma as defeat sinks in

NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley. Photo / Getty Images
NSW Blues coach Laurie Daley. Photo / Getty Images

They weren't expected to win the State of Origin series but it's a pretty grim picture facing New South Wales now.

Not only have they lost the series 2-0 with one match to play but there is in-fighting among New South Welshmen and some extraordinary things being said by players.

Coach Laurie Daley is in a dilemma. He's now got one of the most successful coaches in NSW history in Phil Gould saying he's got it all wrong by trying to replicate Queensland's approach in both loyalty to players and game plan.

He can either heed that advice or basically raise the middle finger to Gould, and others, by sticking with his long-term plan.

Daley hopes loyalty to players will eventually bring success, in the same way it has for Queensland. Well, it hasn't worked for Daley and it doesn't look like improving any time soon. Yes, there have been some close games but they have still lost and there is truth in what Gould is saying.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of creativity in the halves. Both James Maloney and Adam Reynolds are capable players but they don't offer a lot in terms of sparking the side.

Until they sort that out, they are going to continue to have issues. Maybe they need someone like Bryce Cartwright, who is a second-rower but who has been doing a good job playing five-eighth for the Panthers recently.

James Tedesco would offer something different to Matt Moylan at fullback. He has a knack of scoring tries or setting them up for others.

One of the other issues I have with NSW at the moment is what some of their players are saying. A lot of them are backing Daley and urging the selectors to remain loyal.

Even Jack Bird, who made his debut the other night, is dipping his toe in. Who is he to be commenting on Origin selection? What it looks like is players trying to hang on to their A$30,000 ($31,500) match fees.

Origin continues to be a cash cow, and you can see why Australian rugby league officials tout it as the pinnacle of the game, but it's lost a lot of its lustre for me. I will still watch every game but my interest has waned as the product has been diluted. I don't condone the violence of yesteryear but the aggression and confrontation we used to get was one of the best things about Origin.

Now it is a different type of toughness but it can all be a bit sterile.

The NZRL have often toyed with the idea of staging their own Origin but it's a concept they should leave alone. It would be difficult to come up with the right formula and would struggle to generate the sort of interest (and revenue) the NZRL desperately need.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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