Tony Durkin: Experience, not age, is key to Origin success
PUBLICLY, the composure of Laurie Daley after Wednesday's one-point Origin loss was admirable.
The Blues coach did nothing but heap praise on the courage of his players.
But under that unruffled exterior he must have been seething. As has happened so often in the past decade of Queensland domination, their southern counterparts simply don't know how to seal the deal.
Sure the Blues won last year's series, and deservedly so. And they won in two cliffhangers - 12-8 and 6-4. But when it came to clean sweeping the series, they crumbled 32-8.
Following a supposedly flawless week in camp at Coffs Harbour and in front of 80,000 home fans, the Blues did enough on Wednesday night to take a vital lead in the series. But again they fell at the final hurdle.
Twice in the dying minutes they had the chance to square things with a field goal, yet stuffed up both times.
Firstly they ran the ball on the sixth tackle, then centre Michael Jennings kicked it dead, giving Queensland seven tackles coming out of trouble. And then, with just two minutes left on the clock, Blues skipper and dummy half Robbie Farah conceded the ball went to the wrong player for a failed field goal attempt.
Okay, it wasn't exactly Keystone Cops stuff, although Trent Hodkinson failing to find touch from a penalty deep inside his own territory is as serious as Origin blunders get.
But failing to nail the big occasions has become fatalistic for the Blues.
And that is why this continual carping about Queenslanders being too old is so hard to swallow. In this era, 30 is not old, just experienced. And it is experience at vital stages in close games that is the difference between winning and losing.
The Maroons have it in spades, whereas the chopping and changing over the years has not enabled NSW to build any momentum in key positions. When it has been time to call the big shots, confusion reigns supreme.
And Blues supporters thinking things will be better in Melbourne in three weeks are fooling themselves.
Greg Inglis will never play as poorly in an Origin match as he did on Wednesday night, nor will Darius Boyd. And the great Johnathan Thurston was very quiet, by his standards.
Age, as they say, shall not weary them.