RICKY STUART – SUNDAY TELEGRAPH COLUMN
ANYBODY that saw Bill Harrigan’s explanation for allowing the Greg Inglis try in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph will know what I am talking about when I say I can’t talk to the man _ I never get a straight answer from him.
His explanations come in riddles. He’s never wrong. You never walk out with any meaningful outcome.
Even when you’re convinced you’re right, the understanding of a game you’ve spent more than 30 years playing and coaching, he hits you with all this jargon and convoluted explanations detailing why he’s right and you’re wrong you walk out more confused than ever.
No wonder so many NRL coaches are either struggling with him or, by now, have given up on him.
Three weeks afgo Canberra coach David Furner got fined for saying the referees go into the game with a preconceived idea of what the outcome might be, and referee accordingly.
He was fined, because it broke the rules, but I don’t think he was saying the referees were cheating, as it appeared.
The referees first denied this and later justified it, but we know they arm themselves with tip sheets on each team, and the obvious outcome of that is they must go into a game with a preconceived idea of how teams play _ that’s the purpose of tip sheets.
So to deny it Furner spoke for many coaches
Because I can’t talk to Harrigan I have set up a meeting with his superior, Nathan McGuirk, and NRL boss David Gallop.
Gallop made the invitation yesterday through the press.
The first thing we all want as coaches is consistency and, unfortunately, we’re not seeing a lot of that in the game at the moment.
Some weeks back Bob Fulton said the wrestling tactics were slowing the game and making it boring. Wayne Bennett came out and agreed with him.
Together they have coached more than 1000 games, won nine premierships, both coached Australia. Both played for Australia and Fulton is one of the Immortals, so you think they would know their footy.
And for a time after they raised their concerns we saw a better game, a quicker game, as the referees cleaned up the ruck and watched the 10m.
But then they went back to their old ways and Harrigan, as their boss, has seemingly sat by and watched it happen.
When you are picking a team for Origin, which brings the best against the best, you have to know the style of play the referees are going to allow and, most of all, that they will stick to it.
That’s the importance of such a meeting with Gallop.
I believe we were the best team on the night. Having said that, we need to improve to win Origin II, and we’re aware of it.
Queensland have a very experienced side, one that knows when to lift, when to slow down the play-the-ball, risk penalties, all of that stuff you can’t put in young heads.
James Tamou was terrific for a player on debut. Paul Gallen was strong, as always. Jarryd Hayne stood up and Greg Bird was superb, winning the team’s gameball.
About six weeks agao I came out and put the heat on Robbie Farah, telling him Danny Buderus was ahead of him for Origin and that I wanted him to put his selection in his own hands.
Make the decision for me.
I can’t telly ou how proud I am of how he responded. Immediately his club football improved in all those little one-percenters we look for in Origin.
He earned his ticket to the game and then Wednesday he came out and showed he was an Origin player. Not just someone who qualified for a jersey, someone with the grind to make it on the big stage.
That’s what this kind of football is about.
THE DRESSING ROOM
It was important for us not to have our heads down.
We’ve lost the first battle, but before the players left the dressing room they were already thinking about the next game.
Origin is so intense you can’t afford to dwell on anything.
I told the players their body language and mood before the game had me believing we were about to win, and when they came back Origin II i wanted them thinking the same way.
It’s important they don’t lost that.
THE MEDIA BAN
As you can appreciate, emotions were pretty high in the game afterward.
That’s always the worst time to talk. I told the players I didn’t want them talking to the media because the last thing I wanted was them saying something based on emotion rather than reason, and getting headlines for all the wrong reasons.
On Friday the sting was gone and I sent them all a text message saying they could talk to the media to whatever level they were comfortable. “I thought it was important for you not to say anything you may have regretted today,” I wrote.
Losing Tony Williams is a huge disappointment.
Like the players, I wish Origin was on again right away but the reality is there’s still two weekends of football to go, which means two more games for the players to get through without injury or suspension.
I hope the fit players all come through without worry, and can’t see any point in thinking about the team until we know who’s available.