The Fantasy King: Origin Wash Up

Filed in From The Couch, NRL by on June 28, 2013

By Mick 'the King' Adams

The concept of fantasy origin leaves me lukewarm at best. If anything, all it does is make me long all the more for a major change to the structure of the NRL season along the lines suggested by Nick Tedeschi in this week’s From The Couch. The idea of a knockout-style mid season competition, within which the State of Origin series could be comfortably housed without disrupting the regular season, has been raised often in the past couple of years. Unfortunately however it does not seem to be on the minds of anyone with any real power within the NRL. I don’t know why, as it would make the NRL season ridiculously good. Not only would we have another meaningful trophy to award each year, raising the prospect of teams vying for a triple crown of knockout, NRL and WCC championships, but the season proper would not be so fundamentally compromised for a third of the year as it is in its current state.

For fantasy players the difference would be even more pronounced, which is why the Supercoach Origin competition only leaves me hungry for a better fantasy set-up. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how the stars of fantasy football fare when put up against (and alongside) each other. And it really is the stars of fantasy- of the top twenty fantasy pointscorers of 2013, only six players eligible for Origin have not been selected for either game one or two. Of those, surely John Sutton and Adam Reynolds must come into consideration for game three, with Jamal Idris for Josh Morris an equally logical decision. Because such moves do seem so logical, I doubt we’ll see them occurring.

Anyway, after going over the fantasy output of each team so far in the series, here are a few notes:

The Unfairly brief Origin career of Nathan Merritt (Game 1: n/a; Game 2: 3)

Ouch. Poor Nathan Merritt doesn’t deserve to be in the one-and-done club, given he should have made his Origin debut a few years ago. Unfortunately, after one of the more defensively inept performances you will ever see on the game’s biggest stage, this is what he’ll be consigned to. I laughed loudly when reading in this morning’s paper that either Merritt or Dugan would make way for the return of Jarryd Hayne. There is no way NSW will drop one of their few genuine attacking threats in favour of retaining Merritt, whose fantasy score of 3 actually flattered him. If it’s any consolation to Merritt he’s in good company- Phil Blake, David Peachey, Darren Albert and Ricky Walford are among the many quality players to have a lone Origin appearance to their names.

More from Merrin (Game 1: 42; Game 2: 28)

The Dragons’ lock has had a very productive fantasy season, and with an average just shy of 75 sits comfortably within the top ten. But I can’t help but feel that the breakout season we had been promised is yet to arrive. He remains a few rungs below the fantasy heights set for many years by blues teammates such as Gallen and Watmough (the latter has somewhat fallen off the fantasy cliff in recent seasons but was a gun in years past). In reality he seems to be at that same juncture. As the heir apparent to the aforementioned NSW mainstays along with renowned “Origin-type player” Greg Bird, Merrin has now played six Origins without really owning it. As it stands, his signature moment came with his punch-up and subsequent sin-binning last night. It’s still a much better signature moment to have than his Dragons teammate, the notoriously biff-shy Ben Creagh, but I want more from Merrin, and I know he’s got it in him. He’s still young enough to be a force for many seasons to come, and by no means did he have a bad night in game two, but he needs to make his presence felt come game three.

The Return of JT (Game 1: 20; Game 2: 73)

I don’t know if there’s been a bigger disappointment in fantasy this year than Jonathan Thurston, who I considered a top three draft pick at the start of the year. He has had some typically standout performances but has been seemingly mired in the Cowboys’ ongoing struggles. I was actually quite surprised when he re-signed with the Cows, feeling a change of scenery might be the spark he needed. Regardless, his poor game in Origin One was confirmed in fantasy, with JT posting the game’s second lowest score. Well, what a difference a game makes. Thurston was sensational in Game Two. I could watch his masterful cut-out ball for Darius Boyd’s second try on an endless loop and never tire of its beauty. His efforts in linking up with the owner of rugby league’s most punchable face for his first try was only slightly less impressive. He went from second worst fantasy score to second best in the space of a game. Vintage JT performance.

Josh Reynolds- A+ coaching Loz (Game 1: n/a; Game 2: 11)

Only the unfortunate Merritt had a lower fantasy score than Reynolds, whose performance confirmed that Laurie Daley put precisely no strategic thought into how to use him. This is not to slight Reynolds at all- I remain a big fan of his work. But to see him on the field performing the rake duties that Robbie Farah handled exceptionally well on his own for eighty minutes in Game One had me screaming at the television. This was especially so when the blues were attacking Queensland’s line minus Farah, the one player who displayed even glimpses of the creativity necessary to get across the stripe. [Side note: I thought this was one of Mitchell Pearce’s better Origin games, which is damning him with the faintest of praise. He looked sharp and dangerous at times when he ran the ball. Unfortunately, anytime he was even within the same postcode of the Queensland tryline he went to water, and was wholly ineffectual. He cannot possibly be retained for game three.]

I will never understand the logic of picking a bench utility for the sole purpose of playing a cameo role at dummy half, and Reynolds’ appearance smacked of Daley just wanting to avoid looking foolish by leaving him on the bench for another eighty minutes. He cannot possibly be picked for game three if this is all Daley has in mind for him. 


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  1. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe you thought Mitchell Pearce was OK.  I thought he was atrocious.  His kicking was rubbish and his attack on QLD's line was pathetic.  At one stage he did one of his inside balls (that look really fancy, but achieve nothing) to a forward standing still, and this was about 8m out from QLD's line, and this was on the 4th tackle.  He was very poor.