Tuesday 24 October 2017 / 06:55 PM

BACK TO SQUARE ONE FOR BLUES

Of the 11 series defeats the Blues have suffered in the last 12 years, this is the one that hurt the most. The Blues had the better team. They were playing the better football. They were one act of Jarryd Hayne selfishness away from sealing the series before halftime of the second game.

But they blew it. The pressure became too much. The ghosts began to haunt. They retreated into themselves.

Of course, the seeds for the capitulation were planted a long time ago and were sewn in the conservative selection policy that will be Laurie Daley’s legacy as NSW coach. No player represents that more than Pearce, who has now been given 18 games and seven series to prove he is up to Origin standard. There can be no excuses. Robbie Farah lost his spot because of the way he hurt Pearce’s game, it was said. This was Pearce’s team. Unfortunately, it certainly was.

It is clear that NSW are being crippled by a culture that fears losing. There is a level of post-traumatic stress disorder in the players who have endured so many defeats. This year’s blow, though, has been the cruellest because they can no longer look across the park and say they got beaten by an unbeatable force. Instead, they look across and see the likes of Jarrod Wallace, Tim Glasby, Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper surrounded by a few remaining superstars and realise they got beaten by desire, will and belief.

It is time for New South Wales to start again. Daley is gone, everyone can accept. The list of available candidates is not long but it would be great to see a left-field choice like Andrew Johns, someone not weighed down by the pressures of rugby league politics, to take the reins with a genuine coaching brain like Ivan Cleary or Trent Robinson as his assistant.

Almost an entirely new squad is needed, if for no other reason than to put the past in the past. Of the 17 players used this series only James Tedesco and James Maloney should ever play again from the backline while among the forwards the starting backrow, Andrew Fifita, David Klemmer, Jake Trboejvic and Wade Graham are the only players that can be considered. The likes of Blake Ferguson and Jarryd Hayne have done too much damage while the likes of Aaron Woods and Josh Dugan have suffered too much trauma.

The Blues need to start again. It is that simple.

Game 1 2018 NSW Team: Tedesco, Cotric, T Trbojevic, Roberts, Mansour, Maloney, A Reynolds, Vaughan, Cook, Fifita, Cordner, Crichton, J Trbojevic, Klemmer, Graham, Peachey, Frizell

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About the author

Nick Tedeschi

You will not find a more passionate rugby league man than Nick, whose Making The Nut column has garnered a huge cult following over the last decade. The Sydney-based raconteur co-authored The Book of NRL Lists with CBS stablemate WILL EVANS in 2014 and has penned several other books; he joined the CBS team with his weekly Six Up The Middle feature in 2016.

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