Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The NSW Blues has officially won the 2021 instalment of State of Origin 2-1, and have recently lifted the shield.
The Blues put on a clinic for the majority of the series, with many backline players receiving deserved praise for their contribution.
However, New South Wales’ forward pack had a part to play and one player’s efforts throughout the series have gone largely unnoticed, and that player is Isaah Yeo.
Writing this article today is fitting, as Everything Rugby League put a piece out around a year ago detailing why Yeo was perfect for Origin.
Most reacted with something along the lines of “he deserves to be there, but likely won’t get the chance due to a stacked New South Wales forward pack”, which could be said for Yeo’s career up until 2020.
The State of Origin Shield is ours 🙌
Game Three match report here ⬇️https://t.co/qCMXo9tek0
— NSWBlues (@NSWBlues) July 14, 2021
A player on the cusp of greatness and notoriety that just fell to the wayside every time.
For a while, this writer conceded that to be true, but we sit here a year later and Yeo is a State of Origin series winner and an irreplaceable component of New South Wales’ set-up.
In game one, Yeo’s impact was largely in defence, missing just one of his 31 tackle attempts, and putting in a great defensive effort to pull off a try-saver late in the contest despite New South Wales already having the game comfortably in the bag.
Origin two would see the lock put up an even better defensive display, missing just one of his 46 tackle attempts; however, this performance can be seen as a great attacking one too, with Yeo getting the ball in hand more and notching up 34 post-contact metres in the process.
Like the majority of his teammates, Yeo’s quietest performance came in game three where he still managed to make 39 tackles, the second most tackles any New South Wales player made on the night.
Should Isaah Yeo have won the Wally Lewis Medal?
Not necessarily, as a worthy winner received the honour, but it is time to give Yeo and the NSW Blues forward pack praise for what was an exceptional Origin series.