Darius Boyd is under pressure to retain his place in the Queensland line-up. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
Darius Boyd is under pressure to retain his place in the Queensland line-up. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

Smith decision causes Origin wing confusion

YOU know there is something special about a dummy half when the shockwaves of his departure rumble all the way to your left wing.

Ben Ikin, former Origin utility and host of Fox Sports show NRL360, made this point as Queensland coach Kevin Walters confronted the riddle for which there is no obvious solution.

Who should kick goals for Queensland in the first State of Origin match following the shock departure of Cameron Smith?

Ben Hunt, Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga, Valentine Holmes or Daly Cherry-Evans?

The trouble with the most seasoned goalkickers among those contenders, Cherry-Evans and Ponga, is that they probably won't play.

 

The problem with the trio more likely to be chosen - Hunt, Munster and Holmes - is that they have not had a solitary goal kick between them this season.

Imagine that. You are lining up for a Johnathan Thurston-style matchwinner from out in the bleachers on the strength of zero shots this season before this series.

Talk about sweaty palms.

Pressure is mounting on failsafe Darius Boyd, for so many years an automatic selection, as the push for Holmes to play as a goal-kicking winger intensifies.

Valentine Holmes could be pushed on to the left wing for Queensland. .Picture Gregg Porteous
Valentine Holmes could be pushed on to the left wing for Queensland. .Picture Gregg Porteous

"I would have Holmes do it (the goal kicking) and he could fit in on the left wing, but it is a very finely-balanced decision,'' Ikin said.

"Having someone who can turn four points into six is vitally important and I heard he was neck and neck with Chad Townsend to do the goal kicking (for Cronulla) this season.

"Having Holmes outside Greg Inglis could be really explosive.

"I know how much Darius Boyd's experience and leadership means (to Queensland coach Kevin Walters) but I just think he has been struggling a little bit this season. He is not far from full capacity but that missing five to 10 per cent makes a difference.''

Walters said Ponga's goal-kicking prowess could have him in consideration despite his inexperience.

It’s unlikely Daly Cherry-Evans will be picked despite his kicking prowess.
It’s unlikely Daly Cherry-Evans will be picked despite his kicking prowess.

"He is a goal kicker, so that certainly does put him into the frame if that's the line we go along," Walters said.

"The last couple of years we've won games by a goal kick, we know how important it is.

"We've been so blessed over the years with Thurston and Cameron Smith, I don't remember anyone else taking a shot at goal for Queensland in the last 15 years.

"It's so important, goal kicking today ... Smith was up around 80 per cent in games, it's a huge thing, particularly in Origin."

Queensland's jaw-dropping run of 11 series victories in the past 12 years has masked the fact that they often only squeaked home - seven games were won by two points or less and another two by four points in this period.


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