FIRST of all, apologies for the lack of action on The Hickey Stand recently.
Much like Fitzroy and Brisbane, we engaged in a significant merger over the past few weeks between a Victorian and a Queenslander – but instead of inheriting a rich history I snagged throw cushions and decorative soap.
And a pretty awesome wife.
With our honeymoon in Tasmania occurring at the exact moment that Tassie’s rivers decided to swell like a dislocated knee, we had a lot of time to drive around and look at the countryside.
It felt like home. Not because of the shitty weather. Not because of the rolling hills and green pasture. It was because of those eight white posts erected in just about every little town we passed through.
For those who haven’t driven south to north on the mainland, there’s a point about 1/3 of the way through New South Wales where the eight posts so familiar to every footy fan give way to those ridiculous crossbar posts.
The ovals turn into rectangles, the Carlton Draught signs turn into Tooheys New, then XXXX, and – as I learned too late on my first trip up here – you have to flick the channel over to 7Mate to see live footy.
It’s a bizarre place up here.
But one thing they do have right is State of Origin. It’s the jewel in the Rugby League crown. It’s brutal, it’s skilful, it’s spine-tingling and it manages to elicit the deepest of love and hate from both sides of the border.
It makes you burn for Origin to return to Aussie Rules.
Of course it wouldn’t work. In the AFL your God is your club. In Rugby League your God is your state. In Rugby Union your God is your country. And in soccer you have an Ancient Greek-styled Polytheism where your Gods take form in many leagues and tournaments.
Our worship of club success stops us from having nice things.
But it doesn’t stop us from speculating. So here are the State of Origin of teams and what they might look like if Origin returned today.
B: Brett Deledio — Scott Thompson — James Frawley
HB: Luke Hodge (c) — Tom McDonald — Jimmy Bartel
C: Scott Pendlebury — Patrick Dangerfield — Travis Boak
HF: Dustin Martin — Jarrad Waite — Steele Sidebottom
F: Steve Johnson — Jeremy Cameron — Jake Stringer
R: Shane Mumford — Joel Selwood (vc) — Gary Ablett
Int: Jarryd Roughead — Brendon Goddard — Jack Steven — Ollie Wines
Emergencies: Taylor Adams, Jack Crisp, Ben Cunnington, Ed Curnow, Luke Dahlhaus, Nick Dal Santo, Sam Docherty, Josh Jenkins, Jordan Lewis, Zach Merrett, David Mundy, Robert Murphy, Drew Petrie, Jasper Pittard, Ben Reid, Tom Rockliff, Koby Stevens, Easton Wood, Jack Ziebell
>>> SO we’ve gone for a slightly different take on the traditional State of Origin and followed the under-18’s system instead.
Mainly because a united Victoria would be too damn good for just about everyone else.
Vic Country alone has a midfield that in Round 12 notched 172 touches between them (with Pendlebury still to play).
Any one of those emergencies could be brought into the team and do just as good a job as those named. Feel free to comment with the changes you’d make to the team.<<<
B: Bachar Houli — Josh Gibson — Heath Shaw
HB: Kade Simpson — Daniel Talia — Trent Cotchin
C: David Zaharakis — Sam Mitchell (vc) — Luke Parker
HF: Marcus Bontempelli — Tom Lynch — Robbie Gray
F: Tom Lynch — Jack Gunston — Brent Harvey (c)
R: Todd Goldstein — Josh Kennedy — Dan Hannebery
Int: Max Gawn — Rory Sloane — Callan Ward — Adam Treloar
B: James Frawley — Josh Gibson — Heath Shaw
HB: Luke Hodge — Tom McDonald — Jimmy Bartel
C: Scott Pendlebury — Patrick Dangerfield — Luke Parker
HF: Marcus Bontempelli — Tom Lynch — Dustin Martin
F: Jake Stringer — Jeremy Cameron — Gary Ablett
R: Todd Goldstein — Joel Selwood — Dan Hannebery
Int: Max Gawn — Rory Sloane — Sam Mitchell — David Zaharakis
B: Jeremy McGovern — Alex Rance — Elliot Yeo
HB: Jason Johannisen — Harry Taylor (vc) — Daniel Rich
C: Nat Fyfe (c) — Matt Priddis — Stephen Coniglio
HF: Mark LeCras — Lance Franklin — Stephen Hill
F: Eddie Betts — Josh Kennedy — Jesse Hogan
R: Nic Naitanui — Mitch Duncan — Patrick Cripps
Int: Aaron Sandilands — Daniel Wells — Rhys Palmer — Alex Fasolo
B: Shaun Burgoyne — Phil Davis — Corey Enright
HB: Brodie Smith — Heath Grundy — Shannon Hurn
C: Ryan Griffen (vc) — Scott Thompson — Bryce Gibbs
HF: Paul Puopolo — Matthew Pavlich (c) — Lachie Neale
F: Chad Wingard — Justin Westhoff — Daniel Menzel
R: Sam Jacobs — Brad Ebert — Bernie Vince
Int: Brodie Grundy — Jared Polec — Hamish Hartlett — Danyle Pearce
NEW SOUTH WALES
B: Dane Rampe — Sam Rowe — Michael Hartley
HB: Matt Suckling — Logan Austin — Harry Cunningham
C: Isaac Smith — Anthony Miles — Will Langford
HF: Isaac Heeney — Taylor Walker (c) — Ben McGlynn
F: Luke Breust — Tom Hawkins — Josh Bruce
R: Jarrod Witts — Jarrad McVeigh (vc) — Kieran Jack
Int: Sam Lloyd — Callum Mills — Jacob Hopper — Craig Bird
B: Sam Gilbert — Daniel Merrett — Clay Cameron
HB: Courtenay Dempsey — Rory Thompson — Lee Spurr
C: Dayne Beams — David Armitage — Adam Oxley
HF: Jarrod Harbrow — Nick Riewoldt (c) — Josh Smith
F: Lachie Weller — Charlie Dixon — Kurt Tippett
R: Tom Hickey — Tom Bell — Dayne Zorko (vc)
Int: Zac Smith — Claye Beams — Alex Sexton — Josh Wagner
Emergencies: Aliir Aliir, Harris Andrews, Liam Dawson, Jono Freeman, Shaun Hampson, Ben Keays, Jake Spencer, Joel Tippett, Jesse White, Brendan Whitecross
>>> LIKE New South Wales, the talent is there but it’s not quite up to the standard of the big three.
Populated with Queenslanders who wanted to come home (Beams, Bell, Harbrow) and Queenslanders who turned their backs on the Sunshine State (Dixon, Tippett), it’s a mix of exceptional talent and unfulfilled potential.
There’s a lot to like about the youth of Queensland, with guys like Josh Smith, Lachie Weller and Tom Hickey showing glimpses this season of what they might become. <<<
B: Jake Kolodjashnij — Alex Pearce — Colin Garland
HB: Kade Kolodjashnij — Henry Schade — Jimmy Webster
C: Grant Birchall (vc) — Aaron Hall — Jesse Lonergan
HF: Eli Templeton — Jack Riewoldt (c) — Luke Russell
F: Josh Green — Liam Jones — Jeremy Howe
R: Ben Brown — Mitch Robinson — Mav Weller
Int: Ryan Harwood — Jackson Thurlow — Mackenzie Willis — Brady Grey
B: Ryan Nyhuis — Steven May — Curtly Hampton
HB: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti — ??? — ???
C: Jake Long — Steven Motlop — Jed Anderson
HF: Daniel Rioli — ??? — Nakia Cockatoo
F: Jake Neade — ??? — Shaun Edwards
R: ??? — Cyril Rioli (c) — Mathew Stokes (vc)
Int: ??? — ??? — ??? — ???
>>> OBVIOUSLY short on numbers at AFL level, the Top End would have to dive into lower level leagues to fill out the squad.
That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of talent around. McDonald-Tipungwuti has shown there’s plenty of quality players in the Territory if you look hard enough.
Recent history has also shown great players have joined the AFL from the Top End, before feeling unsettled with the dramatic change of scenery, heading home after a season or two.
Getting those players together for a one-off Origin series for the NT would be exciting – and they would cause an upset or two along the way. <<<
BONUS ALLIES TEAM
B: Grant Birchall — Steven May — Pearce Hanley
HB: Jarrod Harbrow — Rory Thompson — Jarrad McVeigh
C: Dayne Beams — David Armitage — Aaron Hall
HF: Steven Motlop — Nick Riewoldt — Luke Breust
F: Cyril Rioli — Taylor Walker — Jack Riewoldt
R: Tom Hickey — Dayne Zorko — Kieran Jack
Int: Tom Hawkins — Mitch Robinson — Anthony Miles — Jeremy Howe