BREAKING: Zerotackle.com has broken the news that Reynolds has been ruled out of Origin at 2.00pm Wed 06/07. With a replacement to be named today.
Adam Reynolds sustained a shoulder injury in the round 17 match against the Cowboys in Cairns. It has been reported that Reynolds is now in doubt to take the field for NSW in Origin 3 next Wednesday.
NRL.com has today speculated NSW (have been training with) could look at Bird to pair Maloney in the final game for 2016. The other 'speculated' shift has been that Bird stay on the bench and Moylan come back into the side where he would share the role with Bird.
They don't call them playmakers for nothing. They are the organiser's they are ultimately responsible for the game plan. They are the Quarterback. So why fill the spot with a makeshift utility.
Why do that?.
You want to give Reynolds every chance to be fit, however this game is so important for NSW. If they lose it means the last time they won an Origin game would be game 2, 2015. And the last time they won a series was 2014. And in that series they got thumped in game 3.
People call this a dead rubber, but it holds a lot more weight than people think. Daley has bowed to criticism and brought more young players into the side (Graham, Tedesco) and dropped Greg Bird, Matt Moylan and Dylan Walker.
He is now fielding a very inexperienced side that is a shadow of the 2014 winning campaign surely they wouldn't put a part time driver at the wheel.
So with the ushering in of a new generation of blues, now, more than ever, you want to give them a winning feeling. You want them to believe the QLD team can be beat, and you don't want a young side in 2017 already talking about redemption. This game presents a massive opportunity for a young NSW side to take some momentum into 2017 and the halfback position is so key in this formula.
If they do go with Bird or Moylan at No 7. and QLD win, it could be the final nail in the coffin for Daley. Yes Bird would probably be solid and he is a ball player but he plays centre week to week. Moylan might be a No 6. of the future but he isn't ready yet. Particularly in the toughest game on the Rugby League calendar.
Let's look at the options.
Chad Townsend: Halfback, Cronulla. One of the players responsible for for their streak of 12. The positive is he plays with Maloney week in week out so they don't need to form a combination.
Josh Reynolds: Five eighth, Bulldogs. The Bulldogs blistering form of late has been helped out along by the improved efforts of Reynolds. Can play halfback, has played Origin before. Was the winning pivot for 2014, so knows how to win at Origin and loves to Win!.
Trent Hodkinson: Halfback, Newcastle. While Newcastle are in the worse shape the club has ever been in, Hodkinson "Mr Cool" has still been in good form. Newcastle's form probably cost the 2015 incumbent his spot. Trent can control a ruck and a game and keeps his cool when everyone else is in a frenzy. Also knows how to win at Origin pairing Reynolds in 2014.
Mitchell Pearce: Halfback, Roosters. Ben Ikin said it best. If not for the decade of dominance Pearce would be considered one of NSW best halfbacks. Unfortunately for Pearce he was the fall guy and copped most of the criticism as Lockyer/Cronk/Thurston and Smith ripped NSW teams to shreds in the last decade. But Mitchell Pearce is a great halfback and probably NSW best halfback. Also his little indiscretion before the 2014 Origin campaign cost not only him his spot but it cost Maloney his spot too as Daley was all about combinations back then. It took Maloney until this year to get a recall. I reckon Mitchell Pearce owes Maloney a NSW win.
Blake Austin (just for a bolter!): Five Eighth, Canberra. Probably would be last to contend for a spot, purely because he is a ball running pivot and so is Maloney. I think their style is too same same. Austin has been knocking on the Origin door for a couple of years now and when he is switched on is the hardest five eighth to tackle in the game. QLD would hate to defend against him. Plus if anyone needed a ride to the game Austin would provide!.
There are 5 options that play in position, in the NRL, week to week and who are all in good form.
The other thing to consider is who is on the other side of the park. They aren't throwing a pivot in against another pivot or another young halfback. They are playing against one of the best half/five-eighth combinations in history, and the most winning. This is Cronk and Thurston you have to contend with, how much simpler could the equation be? Replace a halfback with a halfback.
Ball's in your court Laurie!.