Turn around and face the strange ch-ch-changes
As we mentioned, NSW made a lot of changes after Origin I lost with one converted attempt. Frankly, it felt like a bit of an overreaction.
Some of them make perfect sense. Jack Wighton is out with COVID, so Stephen Crichton is getting off the couch. Crichton’s pre-match bench selection didn’t make sense, so they switched to a more traditional two-hooker model, with Api Koroisau joining his Panthers teammates in the starting lineup and feisty Damien Cook heading into the subs. in fact, the idea of Damien Cook against a tiresome forward platoon should terrify the people of Queensland.
But the complete redesign of the front pack — taking out Ryan Matterson, Tariq Sims and Reagan Campbell-Gillard for Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton and Sifa Talakai — as well as the removal of Kotoni Staggs for debutant Matt Burton is less straightforward.
Yes, they were knocked down the middle in the opener so some changes had to be made, but it seemed like an extreme reaction to such a close loss.
The Burton thing seems to be a response to Nathan Cleary struggling to get his kicks away without being hunted by Maroons in game one. You’d think the answer would be to allow half partner Jarome Luai to kick more, but Burton’s sky-high shoe is definitely an X factor.