MARK CARROLL: NSW Blues need to target Reece Walsh and I’d loved to see Jake Trbojevic hit Daly Cherry-Evans

Mark Carroll
The Nightly
Things are heating up ahead of the second State of Origin battle between the Blues and the Maroons.

I heard rumours there’s a game being played this Wednesday night in Melbourne.

Apparently, a State of Origin match.

Seriously, what a boring build-up we’ve had to both Origin games so far this series.

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All the players are too bloody nice and don’t want to upset the opposition with an inflammatory comment.

The only interesting thing that’s been uttered came from Blues coach Michael Maguire when he was defending his team against claims they unfairly targeted Reece Walsh in Origin I.

“Glass houses,” he said.

That set off a guessing game as to who Maguire was actually talking about!

Everyone assumed it was his rival Billy Slater, because of his judiciary record as a player.

But when it was put to Slater, he refused to have a crack back.

Why not? Let’s have some fun boys!

Instead of talking about Liam Martin’s toe injury for five days, let’s lob a few hand grenades.

Surely the Blues can come out and say we “owe” the Maroons and are going to “get square” at the MCG.

Why can’t the Queensland players say, “hey if you hit Reece Walsh again – it’s on!”

Suddenly, you’d have everyone frothing about Origin II.

Casual fans would change their plans to make sure they sit in front of the telly.

Some people will argue that outspoken comments could be pinned up in the dressing-room and be used as motivation by the opposition.

Do you really think a team about to play in a State of Origin match is searching for reasons to be motivated?

If they are they shouldn’t be playing.

Let’s forget being so PC and have a go!

We need more villains like Wally Lewis, Blocker Roach, Paul Gallen and Choppy Close. Where are the nigglers like Benny Elias who used to get under the skin of Steve Walters?

It probably doesn’t help that the rival skippers are genuinely nice blokes – who are also teammates at club level!

Jake Trbojevic could do the Blues a favour by whacking Daly Cherry-Evans early in the contest on Wednesday night.

Not an uppercut, but just a good strong tackle. Go looking for DCE and nail him.

State of Origin was put on the map 44 years ago when Queensland legend Artie Beetson put one on the chin of Mick Cronin, a club teammate at Parramatta, in the very first game.

Artie sent a message that night that he didn’t care who was in his way – if he was wearing the wrong colour jersey, he was going to cop it!

In 1995 I earned my first Origin jersey by smashing a teammate.

It happened when I was playing for City and my Sea Eagles buddy Nik Kosef was lining up for Country.

He was running the ball, and I gave him everything I had, with Nik’s nose ending up closer to his ear.

They gave me my first blue jersey after that.

I should confess, I lost one of my contact lenses just a minute earlier, so I was pretty much blind in one eye and had no idea it was Nik running the ball!

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 05:  Paul Gallen of the Blues punches Nate Myles of the Maroons during game one of the ARL State of Origin series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium on June 5, 2013 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Paul Gallen and Nate Myles square off in 2013. Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

As for how to handle Reece Walsh, the Blues don’t need to change a damn thing at the MCG.

If Walsh didn’t slip at Accor Stadium, Joseph Suaali’i doesn’t get him high, and it’s play on.

It was a split-second thing, and the Blues should go after him again. I reckon he’ll have a few seeds of doubt in his head.

I’ve heard the Queenslanders moan about Walsh being targeted. Of course he’s being targeted.

Everyone gets targeted in State of Origin!


I’ve had a gutful of local councils closing sports fields with every passing shower.

I feel so sorry for the thousands of kids who jump in their footy gear every Saturday morning only to be told the oval is too wet.

We demand our kids get off the screens and be active.

We tell them sport is good for their mental health.

But then the Council decides it’s more important to protect the precious grass.

Hey Council – why do you have ovals in the first place?

To play sport. Might as well use them.

Seriously, kids and their parents will walk away from sport if this keeps up.

Why would you pay hundreds of dollars in player registration fees when you might only play six or seven games a year?

Yes, some days are genuine washouts and we’ve certainly had a few in Sydney the past couple of years.

But from what I can see, Councils are just taking an easy option of cancelling games any time it rains.

This is a huge problem – and not just for rugby league.

Kids are also being robbed of memories that could last them a lifetime.

My favourite games were played in the wet. It was so much fun to see how far you could slide, or how muddy you could make your jersey.

This needs to be sorted out or our kids will be lost to the dreaded screens forever.


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