Queensland should resist picking the likes of Reece Walsh and Sam Walker for State of Origin III, NSW legend Peter Sterling insists.
The Maroons have lost the opening two Origin games by a combined 76-6. Walsh was meant to make his debut in Origin II on Sunday, only to injure his hamstring beforehand and miss out on a 26-0 loss; the first time Queensland have been held scoreless in 27 years and the first time ever in Brisbane.
Sterling suggested that picking the teenage Warriors fullback, and perhaps even Roosters halfback Walker, for the final game may do more harm than good.
“I understand that sentiment. If I’m a Queensland fan and I’ve sat and watched my side get pumped in two games 76-6, yeah, I’m looking for something different, something new, something exciting,” Sterling told Wide World of Sports on Sterlo’s Wrap.
“But I think the greater benefit is to get a lot more games under their belts and throw them in next year, when I think that they’re more seasoned and ready for what is a physical and mental barrage for you over a period of time. I think you’re better served when you’ve played a lot more NRL.
“I don’t think that will be the case, I think that Queensland will look for a quick fix, but I don’t think they necessarily have to.”
Sterling said that he expected Walsh to be picked for Origin III. The Warriors ace got a call-up for Origin II after injuries to Kalyn Ponga and AJ Brimson, only to be ruled out himself after a training incident.
“The series is lost, which leads me on to Reece Walsh. I see no reason to play Reece Walsh in game three,” Sterling said.
“To me, the series is gone … the perfect thing for Reece Walsh now is to get another 20-odd NRL games under his belt and throw him in next year, before game one and he’s well prepared for it.
“I understand the argument, ‘Well, there’s no pressure on, the series is lost’. [But] there is pressure on.
“I just think that here’s an opportunity to not rush the kid. Let the bulk of the players who played for Queensland the other night go and have another shot at NSW in game three and give them a chance to … it’s not redemption, but to get something out of the series and get something out of it personally for them.
“I expect Reece Walsh will be selected but I see it as probably more upside in allowing him to get a lot more experience at the high level of NRL before putting him into the Origin arena.”
With Harry Grant under an injury cloud throughout the season and Andrew McCullough pedestrian in game two, Sterling said that Queensland should also lay-off on picking Reed Mahoney at hooker. The Eels No.9 is still coming back from a shoulder injury.
“Do you play Reed after what he’s been through?” Sterling said.
“I tend to think that, if I’m a Queensland selector, I go with the same side again, largely. I feel as though they’ve got to do something in the centres, I think it’s unfair on Kurt Capewell to be playing in the centres.
“It is a problem. I don’t know how they go about it but again, I think it’s been unfair. I know Kurt Capewell had a fantastic series last year, thrown into the centres, but I feel as though to have a back-rower out there and try to take on what he’s been confronted by, with what NSW are throwing at him, I think they’ve got to go for a bloke who plays there every week. You take a bit of a punt.”
Sterling said that Queensland had badly missed Ponga and Grant, yet would have to be careful about picking them for game three.
“There’s got to be a doubt on Kalyn Ponga, just because he’s had so little football for so long. Even if he gets back and maybe gets one or two games under his belt, I think there’s a real question mark on himc,” Sterling said.
“Harry Grant, again. It’s difficult for him to come in. They’re a different football team with Harry Grant there.
“Again, with all due respect to Andrew McCullough, who’s an experienced player, gives great service out of dummy-half – but there’s no threat out of dummy-half, not like a Damien Cook.
“Once you get a threat out of dummy-half, it takes the rest of the team forward with you, so Harry Grant adds volumes to any side that he plays in.”
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