The 2021 State of Origin series has concluded, but despite a dominant display by the Blues there was still plenty to learn from the series. The Inner Sanctum assess what the five key takeaways were from the series.
The Blues now have a squad that could rival the eight straight Maroons
With an average of 25.9, and only two members of Wednesday night’s team over 30 years old, the victorious Blues are no doubt due for a sustained period of success.
With youth on their side they will begin to draw comparisons to the great Maroons team that won eight series in a row, and with some serious talent and depth it is a claim that could be worth considering.
Players such as Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr are amongst the best players in the competition. While players like Brian To’o, Cameron Murray and Payne Haas are having an impact at the level despite still being in the early stage of their careers.
The Blues depth is something to be marvel at as well, with players such as Jack Wighton, Mitchell Moses, Apisai Koroisau, Liam Martin, Nicho Hynes, Stefano Utoikamanu and Clint Gutherson all on the outside looking in despite having great seasons for their clubs.
While it might be too early to compare them to the eight straight Maroons, the Blues are definitely going to be hard to beat over the coming years.
Latrell and Turbo are the long-term dynamic duo at centre
The pair would arguably be in the top five fullbacks in the NRL but at Origin level they provide a different and exciting look in the centres.
In game one Trbojevic lurked out the back in a role customary to what he plays at Manly, but in game two he stayed closer to his wing as the Maroons packed the middle third of the field in the hope of curbing his creativity.
While Mitchell looked most damaging as the Blues probed their line with repeated sets.
With young exciting fullbacks such as Ryan Papenhuyzen, Nicho Hynes and Will Kennedy waiting in the wings for James Tedesco’s retirement, Trbojevic and Mitchell in the centres could take the pressure off them as they come through, and haunt the Maroons for years to come.
Blues happy to play anywhere any time
For the first time in State of Origin history there wasn’t a game played in Sydney due to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis in New South Wales.
However, with such a distinct advantage the Maroons failed to capitalise, furthering enhancing the credentials of this Blues side.
While there are already calls for Sydney to host two games next year, is it time to question the validity of the home ground advantage? The best teams always find a way to win, a mentality the players will now have to adopt as a majority of them rejoin their teams in a Queensland hub.
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The Maroons need to develop their depth quickly
The Maroons were decimated with injuries and suspension in the series, which severely tested their depth.
Players such as Kalyn Ponga, Harry Grant and AJ Brimson missed games due to injury, while Cameron Munster and Dane Gagai had an interrupted preparation for game one, and Reece Walsh suffered a hamstring injury before his debut in game two.
David Fifita, Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow all also missed games through suspension.
With so much talent missing from the Maroons squad it allowed them to blood some new players into the squad. Winger Kyle Feldt, centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and forwards Francis Molo and Thomas Flegler all made their Origin debuts.
While their is some promising talent there, the Maroons coaching staff must work hard in order to ensure that if another unavailablity crisis plagues the Maroons again, they don’t falter like they did in the first two games.
How good is balanced refereeing?
Gerrad Sutton has now refereed 23 State of Origin games in a row, and it shows. The experienced referee has shown how the game should be officiated league wide.
Coming into game one, all the talk was around the league wide crackdown on head high hits. During magic round there were 14 players sent to the sin bin for head high hits that had been let go in the weeks prior.
However, there wasn’t a single sin bin in all three of the State of Origin games.
While some will complain about the six again count in the final game, many would agree that Sutton mostly allowed the players to showcase their talent on the big stage.
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