#1: QUEENSLAND 10 NEW SOUTH WALES 5 at Sydney Cricket Ground, June 22 1982.
CONVENTIONAL wisdom has it that NSW only started to take the Origin games seriously when they became a series in 1982. “Tommy Raudonikis says that,” comments the Maroons winger in games one and two and fullback in game three, Mitch Brennan. “He’ll say they thought it was just a bit of fun. I say that’s bullshit!” For many years the Maroons always had two home games as the concept was essentially invented for them. But losing one of those two home games (20-16 first up) didn’t dent their confidence. “That’s because we had Arthur Beetson there,” says Brennan, who was with South Sydney at the time. “It was obvious to me he had learned a lot from his mentors – Harry Bath and Jack Gibson. He said ‘we don’t just know what we do, we do what we know’. He was quietly confident we deserved to win game three. Pretty much all my memories of that series were of Arthur.” Brennan says small things change Origin games and people trick themselves into believing one team was great and the other was terrible on the night. “I’m fully confident Queensland will come home with another series win,” says Brennan, who travels internationally as a consultant.
#2 NEW SOUTH WALES 16 QUEENSLAND 4 at Sydney Football Stadium, June 19 1992.
ROD Wishart has a very rounded perspective of Game Three 21 years ago. He started it as a player and finished it a spectator, falling victim to the bane of his career, his hamstrings. His replacement Tim Brasher, went on to star for the blues in a big victory. Like this year, NSW won the first game `14-6 before and Allan Langer field goal in Sydney tied the series (result: 5-4). “We were pretty confident,” says the then-Illawarra winger. “We always had a great forward pack. I always looked at them and felt safe, because they were pretty intimidating. I think that’s the key in Origin. If you’re comfortable in your surroundings, you play your best football. This Queensland side, they must look around at each other and say ‘we’re going alright here’. Origin’s different football and feeling comfortable is a big thing.” Wishart remembers the psychological ploys of coach Phil Gould as a big factor. “In many ways, this NSW side still has its backs to wall, really,” he observes. “That’s natural when you look at the series wins Queensland have had. But hopefully the Blues can overcome that and get a result in this third game.”
#3 QUEENSLAND 19 NEW SOUTH WALES 4 at Sydney Football Stadium, June 19, 1998
AS you might be starting to gather, catchphrases play a big role in Origin. In 1998 for Queensland, it was “send ‘em home early”. This was an unusual series in that the Sydney decider was sent up by each team winning away. “You know the crowd is going to have the opposition on their shoulders and you know it’s going to be hostile,” says Queensland’s fullback that night, Darren Lockyer. “So you work on blocking it out and doing what you do best. Looking at this year’s series, the home team has got off to a great start and ridden the crowd home. The starts are so important. Queensland has to break that trend by starting well and then blocking out the crowd. Sometimes you can use a hostile crowd as motivation; there used to be a saying – send ‘em home early.” Lockyer was injyred in the first half and replaced by Robbie O’Davis in game three, 1998. “I just remember us completing, holding onto the ball and not giving NSW a sniff in that second half,” he recalls. “That’s another thing you’ve got to do.”
#4 QUEENSLAND 18 NEW SOUTH WALES 18 at Stadium Australia, June 26 2002.
THIS was the second drawn series in four years and led to the introduction of the Golden Point period we will see next Wednesday if necessary. But game three shouldn’t have been drawn, according to Queensland halfback Allan Langer. “We should have given the (final) goal-kick to Darren Lockyer, not Lote Tuqiri,” Langer says. “Lote wasn’t a recognised goal-kicker, wasn’t kicking at training and the shot was from the left, which was the right side for Locky. I don’t know what happened there. Lote just ended up with the ball.” It was Dane Carlaw’s late try that tied the contest at 18-18 and kept the the trophy north of the border. Langer says NSW will definitely have the advantage next Wednesday because Queensland will face a similarly rabid crowd. “The deciders all have massive build-ups and this will be no different,” he says. “NSW benefited from their crowd in the first one and that will give them confidence.”
#5 NEW SOUTH WALES 36 QUEENSLAND 14 at Telstra Stadium, July 7 2004.
SUCCESSFUL Origin sides seem to all have a catchphrase. “I just had a look in my book of goals that I still write in every week over here in England around the 2004 Origins series, there was lots of ‘It’s our time in Origin’,” said Blues prop Mark O’Meley. “That was a big thing from Phil Gould, that it was our time to make our mark in Origin and write our piece of history. It worked for me, I bought into it.” This was a tumultuous series, Mark Gasnier and Anthony Minichiello dropped for disciplinary reasons and Brad Fittler plucked from retirement. “The night before the game, we would go to the ground and walk around and think about what our job would be, what we wanted to do in various parts of the field,” said O’Meley. “Like Nate Myles this year, we discussed how Michael Crocker was their enforcer and not to take any crap from him. When you lose the second game, your pride kicks in and you know that if you win the third one, no-one will remember the loss.”
#6 QUEENSLAND 16 NEW SOUTH WALES 10 at ANZ Stadium, July 2 2006
The 2006 series mirrored this year’s better than any other. The Blues won 18-10 in Sydney and then on home soil, Queensland buried NSW 30-0. The key difference seems to be how NSW reactred to that second loss – they made seven changes, although many were forced or the result of players being available once again. But there was a new halves combination – Braith Anasta and Mitchell Pearce for Greg Bird and Peter Wallace. “This time, we won’t have as many changes,” says the Blues’ prop that night, Brett White. “I think it’s so important to keep your half, five-eighth and hooker constant. I think you benefit a lot from that.” Even with all the changes for NSW, it still took some brilliance from Johnathan Thurston to put Billy Slater over for the clincher. Both will be there again next Wednesday.
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