Dilemma for Laurie Daley
WHAT should have been the best night of his novice coaching career suddenly turned into a 'here we go again' moment for Laurie Daley when Josh Reynolds was charged with a dangerous throw and is set to miss Origin Two.
Finally, after eight years in the wilderness, the Blues have discovered the 'it' factor - that unknown ingredient propagated by Queensland. And the livewire and talented Reynolds had it in spades on Wednesday night.
Since the Maroons started their eight-season waltz to victory there has rarely been a split hair between the two sides in ability, and on the scoreboard.
The advantage Queensland held, ad infinitum, was the capacity to win the tight games.
The history books will credit the Blues with winning the 100th Origin match 12-8. What that score won't tell us is that this was yet another titanic affair - one of the very best in Origin's 34-year history.
And the history books won't tell us that the Blues won despite a couple of poor refereeing decisions against them in the dying stages.
Nor will it tell us their tenacious defence got them home, something that has long been a Queensland trademark.
An amazing ball-and-all tackle by an injured Brett Morris on Darius Boyd six minutes from full time epitomised the 'standing shoulder to shoulder' camaraderie of the Blues. They were simply heroic in defence as Queensland threw the kitchen sink at them in the dying stages. Irrespective of the colour we support, no-one would deny the Blues were the better team. The final score, in truth, flattered the Maroons.
But Daley's post-match headache was not from consuming the sponsor's product, but what to do with his halves for game two.
Unless Reynolds somehow successfully secured a downgrade for that hideous tackle on Brent Tate at last night's judiciary hearing, he will be ineligible for the return bout on June 16.
If Reynolds is gone, does Daley swing back to the Roosters' pair of James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce, or does he match Trent Hodkinson with Maloney and throw another rookie pairing into the fray?
Even blue clouds, it seems, don't have a silver lining.
YES, yes, yes: Jarryd Hayne was magnificent in a winning side, but Billy Slater ran more metres - 220 to 172 - and had no missed tackles to Hayne's one. Both fullbacks made two line breaks; Slater had 31 possessions, Hayne 32; and Slater made five tackles to Hayne's seven.
NO, no, no: I'm not as convinced as one Sydney journo that the Josh Papalii hit from behind on Paul Gallen was a 'dog shot', although it was clearly avoidable. Interesting that the same journo did not mention the Beau Scott tackle on Billy Slater, which looked identical.