When it comes to Origin one thing that’s important is you have a fit hooker who can play 80 minutes. It works, look at what Queensland have been doing for the past 10+ years. Since 2004 Queensland have had a strong fit 80 minute hooker in Cameron Smith. Sure he’s one of the best players the game has ever seen but the pattern starts to emerge as we’ll see, an 80 minute hooker works.
New South Wales have had 80 minute hookers for just as long. Before Robbie Farah NSW had Michael Ennis and before him Danny Buderus.
You get a strong 80 minute hooker and build your interchange to have four big forwards, or, three forwards and a utility on the interchange. This isn’t ground breaking, in fact it’s just a standard part of the game.
Now the problem NSW are facing is that their go to hooker for the previous 5 years has been Robbie Farah. Let’s look at some stats for Robbie for the previous two years.
- Games played since start of 2016 season: 19
- Games played for full 80 minutes for 2017 season: 2
- Average minutes played per game since start of 2016 season: 55 minutes
There’s a trend starting to emerge and that’s Farah not playing 80 minutes. Since the start of the 2016 season Farah has only played a full game 6 times. Out of his 10 games so far this season Michael “Madge” Maguire has benched Farah 5 times and picked Damien Cook to start the game. How does NSW select a hooker that has started from the bench 50% of the time at club level, let alone Origin? That’s not including the fact he’s played 80 minutes only twice this year.
You can understand the argument NSW select him on loyalty. But is this something they should really do? For the past 10 years NSW has struggled to win a series, they’ve won one to be exact, in a decade. Do they pick a hooker that has averaged 55 minutes since the start of the 2016 season? Do they pick a hooker that has only played 80 minutes twice for the 2017 season?
There is absolutely no doubt Farah is a solid player. His last game against his old club the West Tigers was one of his best in recent years. He played the full 80 minutes for the first time since round 1, but there does come a time where we need to be realisitc about the players that should be selected. When looking at Farah how can you confidently pick him to put in a strong 80 minute performance? Looking at the past 2 seasons and all the games he’s played you simply can’t. Having a strong performance against the worst club in the NRL isn’t Origin worthy.
Unfortunately for NSW right now their hooker prospects aren’t bursting at the seams. They’ve got Michael Liccha, Peter Wallace, Nathan Peats, Robbie Farah and Cameron McInnes to realistically select from. Unless you absolutely love Isaac De Gois, selecting Farah becomes a lot easier when you’ve got these contenders.
Nathan Peats is an emerging star and possible future Origin player. He’s been one of the Titan’s best and was one of the Eels best when he played for them. The problem for Peats is that he’s played even less minutes then Farah this year. He was out for the start of the season due to injury and has only played 4 games. Is this enough to debut Peats at hooker? Way to much too soon. Get him in the training squad though, he’s too good to leave out and it’s about time NSW started to blood him.
Cameron McInnes – The real contender for the hooker spot. McInnes is the future for the Origin hooker spot. Robbie Farah at 33 years of age is well and truly at the end slope of his career, which could also be a reason he’s now playing on the bench and making way for Damien Cook at the Rabbitohs.
Cameron McInnes is 23 years of age and debuted in 2014 for the Rabbitohs. He is now currently playing for The Dragons and has had a stellar season.
Let’s compare stat’s between Farah and McInnes.
2017 Season. Both have played 10 games.
McInnes missed tackles: 7
Farah missed tackles: 7
McInnes total tackles: 479
Farah total tackles: 244
McInnes total tries: 2
Farah total tries: 1
McInnes try assists: 6
Farah try assists: 5
McInnes line breaks: 2
Farah line breaks: 0
McInnes line break assists: 5
Farah line break assists: 6
McInnes errors: 2
Farah errors: 7
McInnes tackle breaks: 15
Farah tackle breaks: 4
When we look at these stats one thing becomes absolutely undeniable. McInnes is more dangerous when he runs the ball (15 tackle breaks compared to 4), his defence is better, he makes far less errors, he scores more tries, he makes more line breaks, he sets up more tries and he’s a tackling machine capable of making 58+ tackles a game and playing the full 80 minutes like he’s already proven.
As a Queensland supporter seeing Cameron McInnes get selected looks far more dangerous than Farah. He’s the form hooker for NSW, the future long term hooker for NSW and possibly Australia.
It’s time to drop Farah and blood the future long term NSW hooker – Cameron McInnes.