A PROMISE they would be part of an eventual golden State Of Origin period for NSW underpinned the Blues’ sort-of drought-breaking win over Queensland.
In the first Under 20s Origin match at Centrebet Stadium, NSW players piled on top of each other at fulltime in an 18-14 win while the Maroons looked as distraught as their senior counterparts would if their half-decade purple patch came to an end later this year. There were fights, sledging and big hits – just like the big boys – a crowd of 5105 and a social media frenzy.
Assurances from current senior Blues coach Ricky Stuart and former NSW heroes Craig Fitzgibbon and Jason Ryles in the lead-up to the match played a key role in the result, according to Baby Blues captain and current Sydney Roosters first grader Boyd Cordner.
“The key point to get across is that Origin is still a big part of NSW, even though Queensland have dominated it in the last six years,” Cordner said. “(Stuart) was very passionate about us being the next generation, the future of Origin.
“I think we got a lot out of that. We were all paying attention.
“We had Jason Ryles in the camp, who passed on some real good advice. I’m pretty sure all the props and the forwards would have got a lot out of him being there. Craig Fitzgibbon came and handed out the jerseys – it was a massive buzz for the Origin greats to come in.
“There was that extra bit of niggle because it was State Of Origin. I think everyone would agree that it was a pretty tough match and a physical match. I’m glad to be part of the first ever one.”
Edrick Lee, cousin of NBA basketballer Patrick Mills, scored an eye-catching double and was probably the best player on the field, although man of the match honours went to Blue Harry Siejka. NSW prop Kane Evans was also a stand-out, posting a tearaway try which saw him bump off a series of would-be tacklers in the 24th minute.
And according to NSW coach Dean Pay, the biggest endorsement of the fixture was the fact the scoreline didn’t blow out as so many Toyota Cup games do. Queensland captain Ben Hampton said: “Everyone dreams of playing State Of Origin, from when they’re a little kid. Now that it’s gone to the under 20s, I think it’s fantastic.”
Final team lists:
NSW: Evander Cummins (St George Illawarra); Young Tonupaipea (Melbourne), Cheyse Blair (Parramatta), Ed Murphy (Canterbury), Chanel Mata’utia (Newcastle); Harry Siejka (Penrith), Jacob Miller (Wests Tigers); Vaipura Tia Kalifi (Penrith), Boyd Cordner (capt, Sydney Roosters), Alex McKinnon (Newcastle), Shannon Boyd (Canberra), Michael Lichaa (Cronulla), Matt Groat (Wests Tigers).
Reserves: Paul Carter (Canterbury), Jack Stockwell (St George Illawarra), David Klemmer (Canterbury), Kane Evans (Sydney Roosters).
QUEENSLAND: Lachlan Maranta (Brisbane); Hymel Hunt (Gold Coast), Tautai Moga (Sydney Roosters), Edrick Lee (Canberra), Aaron Whitchurch (Brisbane); Kurt Mann (Newcastle), Ben Hampton (Melbourne); Benn Malley (Brisbane), Caleb Timu (Brisbane), Chris Greusmuhl (North Queensland), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters), Alex Elisala (North Queensland), Mitchell Frei (Brisbane).
Reserves: Brandon Tago (Sydney Roosters), Corey Oates (Brisbane), Travis Peeters (Brisbane), Moses Mbye (Canterbury).
Referee: Dave Munro