Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Napa overlook a blessing for Blues

Napa is a shadow of former League destroyer Sonny Bill Williams.
It’s the end of the first set-of-six in the series decider and New South Wales have just been pummeled by Queensland, playing the ball on the last tackle just 15 meters out from their own try-line. Pushed back each tackle by a Maroon wall of defense.

The hostile Suncorp Stadium crowd are on their feet directing all sorts of vile abuse at the Blues as they attempt to kick their way out of the hell they’ve just suddenly and unexpectedly entered. The Maroons look nothing of the veteran-outfit they played in during the first two games, a new sting has entered their defense, a ruthless mongrel in their intensity not seen since the Gorden Tallis days.
Already, their debutant forward, Dylan Napa, has made a significant impact on the game with three back-to-back tackles, linking with Nate Myles for two; and Sam Thaiday for the other. Both players clearly spurred on by the youth’s enthusiasm. Queensland’s nicest bloke, Matt Scott, has obviously drank a can of the Napa soda, and crushes Mitchell Pearce into the turf with a late hit after the halfback delivers a wayward kick downfield, only just passing the Maroons 40 meter line.
The Blues are stunned, not even two minutes into the game and they’ve realized they’re up against a completely different opponent than they’ve played before. Mal’s men heave the ball up field with inspiring runs from their forwards. The Cauldron is living up to its name with the Blues visibly unprepared for what is upon them as they encounter a world of trouble on just the second set of the match. They face a quick-fire attacking raid by the Maroons as they spread the ball to their left hand side with a customary Queensland play that sees Darius Boyd fly over in the corner virtually untouched for the first try. The crowd erupts with the Maroons rushing over to Boyd to celebrate the try. NSW are left both breath and speechless behind the try line, with the roar of the Queensland fans all they can hear.
Enough with my attempt at script-writing ‘’The Decider”, only the players have that opportunity. But in all honesty, is Mal Meninga’s decision to leave out Dylan Napa a blessing for the Blues or what? NSW have found a raw and raging talent in forward David Klemmer and the excitement he has brought to the Blues line up has been the edge they’ve needed. He has a fire in his belly, his ruthless, and he doesn’t give a shit about reputations. This later observation clearly evident by the story of him telling Cameron Smith he was a ‘has been’ and Corey Parker to ‘Get @$%#ed’ after he was asked to display some respect for the esteemed Maroons. In Dylan Napa, Queensland have themselves a David Klemmer. Hungry, rough around the edges and a player that will display absolutely no respect for Paul Gallen or the rest of the Blues team. Exactly what you want in an Origin game.
Some of Napa’s hits have been reminiscent of one of the game’s all time best, Sonny Bill Williams. If the shoulder charge hadn’t have been banned, Napa would already have played origin. He is a player that plays on the edge, he rips in and genuinely inflicts pain into his opposition. He is obviously made for an origin type arena. He’s hit on Paul Gallen in just his third game for the Roosters was monstrous. Trent Robinson has made him work for his place the Chooks first grade team, as Napa has spent time in the NSW cup, possibly as a means to tame his aggression and develop a more overall and consistent game.
With Queensland showing their age in Origin version 36 (2015), they could have done with someone of Napa’s mold to muster a new dimension to their team. With Billy Slater out, Queensland will have Dane Gagai making his debut and the selection of Josh Papalii may point to Meninga not wanting to rush in players who haven’t been there and done it before in such a heavy game. But to win games of this nature, sometimes you need to take a little risk. Daley has done it with Klemmer, and Queensland have it in Napa, but have gone the safe option this time round. No doubt the twenty-two-year-old will get his chance, but have Queensland overlooked their best available secret weapon right when they need it?
Time will tell. Bring on game three.