Todd Carney fends off a tackle during his playing days with the Sydney Roosters.
Todd Carney fends off a tackle during his playing days with the Sydney Roosters. Mark Metcalfe

Todd's big ask: Can he or Carney?

IF TODD Carney thought he was under pressure when he assumed the No.6 jersey and the accompanying playmaker duties at Cronulla this year, "he ain't seen nothin' yet".

I think it was Matthew Johns who predicted last week that if Carney plays as poorly on Wednesday night as he did in Origin I, the Blues will be thrashed.

He then added that if Carney played a 7/10 game, the Blues would struggle to win, but if the five-eighth had a blinder, NSW was a great chance of squaring the series.

That, coming from a former Blues five-eighth and a much-listened-to and respected commentator, is pressure.

But it is what former champions in New South Wales do to their players, regularly.

Retreat three weeks to the lead-up to game one.

Former Blues prop Steve Roach put hooker Robbie Farah under the blow torch when he said the Tigers hooker was not suited to Origin football.

To his credit Farah was very good in Melbourne - so good in fact that Ricky Stuart has now decided he does not need a deputy sitting on the bench.

Blues fans will hope Carney responds similarly.

Carney has put his below-par performance in game one down to nerves.

He admits to stage fright on the biggest night of his life when four million Australians were watching.

I have no torch to carry for Carney - in fact for the negative publicity he has drawn to rugby league in recent years I have often thought the game was better off without him.

But he is a survivor, and a great talent, and he deserves a second chance at the Origin arena.

If he doesn't play that magical game in Sydney though, the Blues don't win and he is turfed on the scrap heap, Carney at least won't be lonely.

And he will be in very good company.

Since the Origin Maroon wash started in 2006, NSW has used 14 different halves combinations in the 22 games played.

Queensland, conversely, has used four.

Johnathan Thurston, arguably the No.1 player in the game, has been the Queensland constant in those 22 games.

He has combined 15 times with Darren Lockyer, twice with Scott Prince and once alongside Karmichael Hunt and his newest partner Cooper Cronk.

The most prolific Blues halves paring was last season, with Mitchell Pearce and Jamie Soward playing all three games.

On Wednesday night Carney and Pearce, in their second outing together, will join Pearce and Trent Barrett and Braith Anasta and Brett Finch as the next most-used halves combination for the Blues, with just two appearances.

Is it really any wonder the Maroons have won 14 of those 19 games?

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