Nothing more embodies NSW’s Origin predicament than James Tamou’s hair.
Down one-nil in the series, the Blues have appeared sloppy, misguided and loose – exactly like their prop enforcer’s current coiffure.
Sure, his hair arrangement is on trend and looks fashionable at face value, but it lacks cohesion entirely.
His locks on top have a raison d’ětre that says ‘we are free, we are flowing, we will go where the wind blows’, and then bang – as his head slopes away you marvel at something akin to a tightly run military operation. Where is the pattern? Where is the symmetry?
How can we expect Hodkinson to marshal forwards and backs when Tamou’s hair suggests they just don’t work at all?
How can the right and left side of NSW’s defence expect to cooperate if Tamou can’t even demand cooperation from his strands?
NSW will never be able to run effective second-man plays so long as Tamou is permitted to retain that hair. It’s too free, it’s too experimental, it’s not on strategy.
James Tamou now looks like a cartoon character. An ineffectual one. At best, he resembles Scar – the bad uncle from the Lion King. At worst, he is Prince Valiant – a wussy dandy with a bowl cut.
Neither comparisons are complimentary. While Scar was a moderately scary figure for a 7 year old, he was ultimately a study in sour grapes and inefficacy. Valiant on the the other hand, was a fop whose tediously long and boring tales wasted precious real estate in the newspaper comics section.
Last year when the Blues were winning, Tamou was a picture in efficiency. His head was shorn of frippery (and hair). It was tight, disciplined and focused.
The old Tamou hairstyle was no nonsense, imposing and determined. One look at his melon and you knew James Tamou wanted one of two things: to win origin, or steal your wallet. Then he grew a beard that was more Tasmanian old growth forest than hipster, but was nonetheless intimidating.
But the frequent changes have hurt Tamou and they have hurt NSW. It’s little wonder NSW can’t settle on a consistent halves pairing when Tamou can’t keep the same look for more than three months.
If Queensland were a haircut, it would be a symmetrically arranged, elegant short back and sides. The ideal combination of sausage and sizzle. In other words, it would be Cameron Smith. A classic. It never goes out of style.
You know why Queensland have been so successful? They haven’t changed a winning formula.
In contrast, NSW are defined by their propensity to chop and change. Always looking for the next best thing. The short-cut. The big superstar. The middle-parted undercut.
We are talking about truly micro inefficiencies with a macro impact.
By Sam Perry and Ben Shine