RICKY STUART – SUNDAY TELEGRAPH COLUMN

ROBBIE Farah should play Origin. Robbie Farah isn’t an Origin player.

The Blues have lost the plot. Queensland have the mortgage on passion.

Look at the Blues fighting among themselves. What would your NSW team be?

If ever there was a week that showed the ability of some to twist perception to suit their Origin agenda, this was it.

Digging through all that, what I’ve come away with this week is how close we are to getting it right against Queensland.

While there has been plenty of opinion and testosterone flying around, I’m in a peaceful state of mind when it comes to the Blues.

I like all this discussion about the team. I like people volunteering who they’d pick, and whether this player is in better form than that player, or which of them has that elusive quality we now call being an “Origin player”.

For the Blues, it’s important not to get lost in all the debate and accept it as the way it is, which can be difficult. Just because they say it’s so, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

If you don’t believe it is about perception, you only need to look at what happened this week.

The man about to be named Queensland captain, Cameron Smith, ignored XXXX’s 20-year sponsorship of the Maroons to sign a deal promoting the Blues’ major sponsor, VB beer.

Nobody had a problem with it. But let’s switch it around for a moment. Again, I’m talking perception, and how some can mould it to suit their agenda.

If Paul Gallen had come out on Origin eve and signed with XXXX they would have been coming like Indians over the hill to bag Gallen and question his commitment to NSW, his passion for the jersey.

Every critic worth his blunt pencil would have had a shot at him. What about his commitment to the team? The Blues have no passion. And on and on it would have gone.

Truth be told, I don’t mind the odd XXXX Gold myself.

A big part of the difference in attitude between the Blues and the Maroons is where we are coming from.

Queensland have won six straight series, so they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

We haven’t, so the minute there is conjecture about NSW positions or injuries, the perception straightaway is that the Blues are in disarray.

Similarly, we all know Queensland coach Mal Meninga is doing nothing much more than sitting back and picking his fingernails.

And on the back of six straight series wins, that’s just Mal in control, right? If it was on the back of six straight losses – in other words, if we were playing it down exactly as the Maroons are now – it would still be a lack of passion coming from the Blues camp.

Yet, truth be told, Mal and I are probably working as hard as each other.

The perception is different because everyone hears that Queensland has cornered the market on passion and so they go along promoting it without ever really thinking about the efforts both states are making.

But again, I’m comfortable, because I know exactly where the Blues are.

There’s no question some of the previous criticism directed at the Blues was deserved.

NSW did lose their way for a spell there.

We got comfortable after three straight series wins and did not plan for the future. When trouble started, we looked for bandaid solutions.

Nobody remembers Queensland had their own problems at the time – three straight series losses, but then Wayne Bennett got involved and Queensland’s response was quick and correct.

But the Blues found their way again in Craig Bellamy’s final season.

He worked out what it was to be an Origin player and that sometimes it required a different type and slowly the pieces have begun to be put in place.

We built on that last season and if anyone now thinks they can question the commitment of the NSW players, and what they feel for their jersey, then they don’t know people and they don’t know football.

As a coach, you can feel it when you’ve got it, the same as when you don’t.

Our job this year is to not only continue building on that, but to win.

We’re coming to win, and when the team is named next week it’s a team that will have enough to win.

There will be arguments about the merits of the team, but that’s good.

It shows we’re interested.

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