'Ricky Stuart must stay on for series sake'
Heading into yesterday’s decider all the talk was that New South Wales boss Ricky Stuart would be stepping down and heading back to the NRL, writes Marvin France...
But he can’t go now, not after coming so close. State of Origin depends on him.
When Stuart took over at the beginning of 2011 he inherited a team in despair, banging their heads against a massive Maroon wall without a clue of finding a way around it. NSW were all but dead and buried and the Origin concept not far behind, as one of sport’s most intense rivalries turned into a procession.
Stuart changed all that. He gave the Blues a plan, restored their passion, and, most all, he gave them belief. Belief that they could beat one of the greatest rugby league sides ever assembled.
That was evident all throughout yesterday’s heartbreaking defeat: there when they fought back into the match after Queensland’s double strike just before half-time. There when they somehow stopped a barnstorming Greg Inglis when he seemed certain to seal the match. And there when Todd Carney, who’d kicked terribly all series, nailed a sideline conversion to level the scores.
Even without brilliant fullback Billy Slater, the Blues had no right to push this Queensland juggernaut so close, on home soil no less. Yet if it weren’t for Cooper Cronk’s miracle drop goal this column would be totally different.
Sure, the belief Stuart instilled would’ve been shattered by Cronk’s right boot, but when they look back after the dust has settled they must realise they’re closer than ever than toppling this Queensland dynasty. And with the benefit of a year’s experience for what is a relatively young squad, they might just go all the way next season.
But the Blues, and Origin, will surely be back to square one if the man known as ‘Sticky’ isn’t convinced to stick around.