NSW powerful and strong

Michael Hagan May 14, 2012, 2:05 am

I have just flown into beautiful Queensland for this year's State of

Origin series having had the honour of being asked back as Maroons
assistant coach.

On the flight north from Newcastle I had time to
look and digest what I think is a powerful and skilful NSW side. The
Blues have copped some criticism but that comes every season. You cannot
please everyone.

I know that our coach, Mal Meninga, has looked
through the NSW side and hasn't found too many weaknesses although there
were a couple of surprise selections.

There is no doubt that
Manly's Jamie Buhrer is a bolter. Whether he handles the big occasion
remains to be seen and physically he isn't a massive bloke. But Buhrer
has good foot work and has some ability with the ball.

Big Tony
Williams has been chosen despite the fact he won't have played for nine
weeks going into Origin I due to suspension. We have been told though
that Williams has been flogged at Manly training and comes into camp fit
and fresh.

'T-Rex' is made for State of Origin - he has size, strength and aggression - three qualities needed for Origin football.

A lot has been said and written about Michael Jennings' selection from the Windsor Wolves.

I think it came down to loyalty. Jennings did a job for Ricky Stuart last year and he has been rewarded again in 2012.

will know his side has to score a fair few points to beat Queensland
and Jennings will have a point to prove. There weren't a lot of options
at centre for NSW either.

I had a good look at James Tamou playing
for North Queensland last weekend and he looks a monster. He will give
the NSW plenty of aggression and just seems to plough forward each

Robbie Farah's selection is no surprise, he has been in
good form for Wests Tigers. Farah has played one Origin game but I
recall him playing with injury that night. He will be better for that

We shouldn't forget NSW copped plenty of criticism
before Origin I last year and they were in front with just 10 minutes
remaining at Suncorp Stadium.

A fair bit of thought has gone into
this team and I know Ricky has been working toward Origin I for six
months now. NSW will be ready and pumped and Queensland will be
expecting a Blues side that will be playing for their lives.

year the critics come after the NSW coach and selectors, but we won't be
fooled. This is a strong and tough side. The previous six years will
mean nothing come kick-off on May 23.

Origin is alive and well. The match can't come quick enough.

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