BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Matt Prior has probably played his first and last State of Origin game for New South Wales after being overlooked by Blues coach Brad Fittler ahead of Game III at Suncorp Stadium.
Fittler has instead opted to move Paul Vaughan into the starting front row alongside David Klemmer allowing Tariq Sims to become the 13th debutant used by Fittler in this series.
The Blues are shooting for a rare clean sweep.
Prior’s axing makes the decision to pick him in the first place even more bizarre.
When incumbent prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard was scratched for the remainder of the series, most believed another rookie in Ryan James would score his first sky blue jumper. That honour instead went to toiling Cronulla veteran Prior.
Why was he picked for Game II when there was an opportunity to blood James?
By selecting Sims, the Blues also now go into Game III with a smaller pack.
It’s an interesting argument.
Some say Prior wasn’t good enough in Game II.
But Fittler didn’t pick him to run for 200 metres like a Jason Taumalolo. Prior’s job was to fill the gaps, hit and stick, the shitty jobs other don’t want to do. He may have only ran for 30 metres but he also made 27 tackles at a 97% proficiency. In other words, Prior did the job he was given.
To put Prior’s performance in perspective, Jack de Belin played 60 minutes and ran for just 54 metres.
Prior only got 33 minutes.
Prior is on the wrong side of 30. The chances of him getting another crack at Origin are very slim.
He has every right to be upset. After all, NSW are up 2-0 in the series. Apparently you don’t change a winning side.
At least he has a jersey.
What does Ryan James have to do?