Facing an unprecedented seventh consecutive State Of Origin series loss, New South Wales is looking to Todd Carney to be their saviour.
Carney makes his Origin debut at five-eighth, a position unsuccessfully maintained over the past six years by Braith Anasta, Mark Gasnier, Greg Bird, Terry Campese, Trent Barrett, Jamie Lyon and Jamie Soward.
The revolving-door of players to wear the number 6 jersey exemplifies the unsettled and fractured nature of a team in desperate need of a drought-breaking series win.
Where Queensland has enjoyed the luxury of fielding a solidified core and simply replacing players that switch codes, retire or suffer injury, NSW selectors face a annual headache of feverishly tinkering with lineups in search of a magic formula.
Carney’s selection is a clear no-brainer this year, as he’s once again overcome off-field problems and re-emerged as one of the most dynamic playmakers in the game.
He helped take down three of Queensland’s best in his most recent club game with Cronulla as the Sharks notched a breakthrough win over Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and the rest of the previously unbeaten Melbourne Storm.
NSW coach, Ricky Stuart got it right with Carney at five-eighth, but there are some more ways that this team could be maximised with potential Origin saviours;
Wests Tigers winger Beau Ryan in for Penrith Panthers centre Michael Jennings.
Yes Beau Ryan, the class clown of the NRL.
At face value this proposal seems as nutty as one of Ryan’s ‘Beau Knows’ segments.
Ryan and Jennings represent polar opposites in terms of personality and right now what the NSW team needs is Ryan’s infectious enthusiasm and positive energy.
The NSW squad has been increasingly intensified each year with the pressure of escaping the incredible choke hold Queensland has them in.
They are unnecessarily stressed and uptight when they need to take a step back, stay loose and relaxed, Ryan’s uncanny ability to create comic hijinks is just what the doctor ordered.
If the NSW team has a fever then the only prescription is more Beau Ryan.
Jennings was recently sent to reserve grade for numerous behavioural and performance reasons, NSW does not need him moping around camp like a sad sack and bringing the mood down.
And while Ryan wouldn’t typically be considered a player of Origin standards, right now he’s in the best form of his career.
He’s one of only three Tigers to have played every minute of the season thus far and has made steady increases in his work load.
Ryan has led the Tigers in dummy-half runs the past three games, while averaging over 100 running metres over that stretch.
New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow in for Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.
Mitchell Pearce is the son of NSW Origin great Wayne Pearce, but in the Origin arena he is no son of Wayne Pearce.
Mitchell Pearce bears a strong resemblance to NSW Origin legend Andrew Johns.
Pearce could easily play the role of Johns in a television mini-series about his life, but he falls terribly short in the role of playing a champion halfback for the Blues.
The golden boy is yet to live up to lofty expectations of becoming NSW’s next star halfback, and subsequently disappeared during the 2011 Origin series.
Tim Tebow might not always win, but he’s a winner at continually defying the odds and has made a career from unexpectedly producing as an underdog.
Playing alongside the virtuoso Carney in the halves, Tebow’s inexperience in Rugby League can be compensated by his exceptional ball running skills and physical durability.
Although his kicking game may be non-existent, he’s known for setting up field goals and he’s shown he can tackle.
Carrying 107 kilos with his 6’3” frame, Tebow cuts a Hulkish figure by League standards, he’s used to evading Behemoth NFL defensive enforcers and has extensive experience with lateral passing and handing the ball off in the wildcat formation.
NSW could pin their hopes on Tebow the saviour, however rumour has it that Queensland officials already claimed his eligibility for the Cane Toads back in January after he led the Broncos to a surprise playoff win over the Steelers, go figure.