May be time for Blues to cut Gallen, Pearce loose
MAYBE the opening-round injury to Paul Gallen and the enforced holiday for Mitchell Pearce could be a blessing in disguise for Blues coach Laurie Daley and disillusioned New South Wales fans.
Blues supporters don't need reminding - and Queenslanders won't let them forget - that nine of the past 10 State of Origin series have come north of the border.
Daley, who has won one series in three, is the fourth coach thrown into the fire by the NSW hierarchy in that time.
And during his shaky tenure, both Gallen and Pearce have been pivotal - Gallen because he has been skipper and Pearce because he missed the only series the Blues won.
But the alarming statistic is the win-loss ratio of both players.
Gallen has made 21 appearances for the Blues for just eight wins, and Pearce stands at three victories from 15 games.
Both Gallen and Pearce will be back in action before Origin one on June 1.
And because of his unswerving loyalty, that will apply pressure on Daley to pick them.
But in staring down a Queensland side brimming with confidence after the record-breaking 52-6 win in last year's decider, should the loyalty card really mean anything now?
Hasn't he given many of his troops more than enough chances?
As Henry Ford once said - and others including Wayne Bennett have often since repeated - if you do what you always do, you will get what you always get.
And with Queensland changing coaches this year and making some other tough decisions on staff and players, the time may be opportune for Daley to follow suit.
No one can doubt the qualities of Gallen as a leader, particularly in the Origin arena.
His winning record may be poor but no one gives more on the field of battle than he does.
Daley's allegiance to him is undisputed, but the coach must be alarmed by his recent run of injuries.
In the past four seasons Gallen has appeared in just 59 of a possible 101 games for the Sharks. He may be as tough as nails, but approaching 35 his body is obviously starting to become brittle.
And while Daley has been publicly supportive of Pearce in his most recent misdemeanour, his rep career could well be over.
After all, the Trent Hodkinson-Josh Reynolds combination did the job for the Blues in 2014.
An interesting few months of Origin speculation lie ahead.
Smart move: Crestfallen Mitchell Pearce has had a minor windfall. His $75,000 fine has been donated to charity, affording him a tax deduction.
Smart move 2: Melbourne Storm securing Craig Bellamy until the end of 2018. His record stands him alongside the very best to have coached in the game.