Opinion | Napa Can Be Difference for Maroons
If Dylan Napa fires up front he can be the difference to give Queensland a crucial victory over NSW in Melbourne on Wednesday night.
Napa has hit some hot form. He bashed the Warriors a few weeks back in one of the best displays I have seen from him.
His take-no-prisoners approach in the middle can inspire Queensland in the same way Gorden Tallis did in his heyday in State of Origin footy. Napa is a hit man. In Origin you want someone to light the fuse, show no respect and take them down, and Napa does it so well
Queensland's chairman of selectors Gene Miles has told Napa to fire up. Bring it on.
Napa has to forget about what happened the other week with that tackle that went wrong on Korbin Sims. He just needs to go and do what he does best.
Gordie would go out and terrorise the Blues and that is what we need Napa to do, like he does in the NRL.
Gordie only ever worried about the team. He inspired us all with his actions and he didn't care about who he was playing against. That was his nature. Napa is cut from the same cloth. He just needs to do it on Origin night.
If you look at the NRL season so far, NSW have an advantage in the forwards with the in-form Reagan Campbell-Gillard leading the way.
Jack de Belin, how good is he going. The form forwards from round one to now are the NSW forwards with de Belin, Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan all on fire at the Dragons. I rate Jake Trbojevic. His tackles jolt the ball free like Terry Randall did in his prime for Manly. He runs like the wind and sets up play with his ball distribution. He is some player.
For Queensland, Josh McGuire has plenty of mongrel but he hasn't played for a month. Felise Kaufusi has come in for Matt Gillett and will do his job on the edge, as he does each week for Melbourne.
Josh Papalii is back to his best and Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess won't let Queensland down, but when you look at club form, the Blues have the edge. That is why Napa's performance is so critical.
Brad Fittler has picked a team to score tries and he has gone with youth. They have got speed across the park in that backline. That is obviously the case with centres Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts, and Josh Addo-Carr of course.
James Tedesco at the back is one of the best in the game at making the most of second-phase play, and that is when I reckon he is also at his best. He does better when he plays off-the-cuff and in broken play than he does with structure and he has players around him to create that. Imagine him running a line off Latrell with his palm and offload.
You can't deny Queensland have dominated for the last 12 years but Fittler has done extremely well with the side he has selected. I still think it is even Stevens in the backline.
It will be Jimmy Roberts versus Greg Inglis and Latrell Mitchell up against Will Chambers. I can't wait for this centre battle. Chambers is very good defensively and he's tough. If he gets a hold of Latrell he will know he's in Origin, and I can assure you Chambers will welcome him in the way only he can.
GI won't want to give Jimmy any room but he has been given the captaincy and I am sure he will go out and lead and have a blinder. Jimmy has the youth and speed but Greg is all class. He is a warrior. He has the experience and he is playing good footy.
When you look at the halves, the NSW pairing of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary play together week-to-week and they have been dominant. On the other side, Ben Hunt is the form half of the Telstra Premiership, despite his recent injury, and Cameron Munster is just a danger man. He is unpredictable and he creates a lot.
The Blues have picked 11 debutants and a virtual new side. They will take time to gel but you don't have time in Origin. Queensland's experience with guys like Billy Slater, Chambers, Cooper and Inglis will play a major factor.
I reckon this will be close but the Maroons should just get there. If Queensland does win, then I imagine Napa and Inglis will have had big ones.
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here