The NSW Blues are facing an identity crisis when it comes to their State of Origin merchandise. A simple Google search will reveal a myriad of options, including dark-blue jerseys with light-blue vees, stripes, and pipes. Some merchandise even features shades of blue that are not quite blue, but more greyish or greenish. It seems as though the designers took inspiration from the NSW selectors themselves. With such a wide range of merchandise available, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a black or pink jersey in the future.
In contrast, Queensland Origin merchandise is a lot more straightforward. Maroon is the dominant color across the board, with jerseys, hoodies, beanies, and stubby holders all proudly displaying the iconic color. Occasionally, there may be some white piping, but overall, the merchandise stays true to the maroon theme. Queenslanders know exactly who they are and don’t shy away from it. They embrace their maroon identity.
The discrepancy between NSW and Queensland extends beyond merchandise. It is evident on the scoreboard during State of Origin matches. In the last ten minutes of games, NSW often struggles, revealing a cultural problem within the team. This cultural problem is analyzed and discussed in black and white, emphasizing the stark contrast between the two states. NSW is a complicated state of mind that sometimes hates itself more than it hates Queensland, which is one thing the two states have in common.
Over the years, NSW coaches, including current coach Brad Fittler, have attempted to solve this cultural problem. They have tried to replicate what comes naturally to Queensland by organizing bonding camps, drinking sessions, and visits from old players. The hope is that these activities will instill a sense of camaraderie and unity within the team. However, despite their efforts, NSW struggles to recreate the Queensland’s cultural success. Queenslanders still manage to maintain a superior chip on their shoulder, as highlighted by Reece Walsh‘s recent comment about NSW thinking they’re better.
Finding a solution to this cultural deficit is a challenge. It’s difficult to manufacture something that occurs naturally. Occasionally, though, an authentic NSW culture shines through in spontaneous moments. Andrew Johns, a long-serving assistant coach to NSW, displayed his frustration towards his Queensland fellow commentators on live television last year. This genuine display of emotion highlighted his discontent with years of being taunted. Perhaps, the solution lies in embracing these moments and allowing the team to be themselves without overthinking.
Caring too much has become the true legacy of NSW’s history of “not getting Origin”. The team often becomes tangled in a web of overthinking and overexertion. This was evident in their recent match in Adelaide, where they struggled to trust themselves and were overwhelmed by a Queensland team that simply played footy. The key is to find a balance between caring and letting go.
Now is the perfect time for NSW to let go and stop caring. It’s time to forget about the Blues culture and individual player performances. Mitchell Moses should embrace the fact that the only way is up from here. Supporters should also consider detaching themselves emotionally from the team. The concept of caring too much about the result of State of Origin is no longer productive. It’s time to give Queenslanders the limelight they enjoy so much.
In the unpredictability of State of Origin, the greater the certainty about the result, the more likely the opposite will occur. So, it’s time to take a deep breath, let go of the stress and tension, and embrace the uncertainty. It’s time to adopt a mindset of not caring, not because it’s a clever tactic like George Costanza’s “opposite” strategy, but because it allows the team to play freely, without the burden of expectations. And who knows, maybe that’s what NSW needs to finally turn the tide in their favor.
Feels better already, doesn’t it?