Your Very Own Origin
[Part 1 of my 3 part Origin series which will all be published on Origin day]
There is nothing better than finishing work on a Wednesday night and heading home to watch football. Pizza Hut call in an extra 4 people to man the phones, bottle shops stock up on Tooheys New in NSW and XXXX in QLD and every fan is waiting because something special is about to happen.
State of Origin is filled with special moments. It’s these special moments that are called to life right around this time of year. You ask any NRL fan to give you a SOO (State of Origin) story and depending on who they support, will talk about a historical team, a player defining moment or they may say something like ‘QUEENSLANDER!!’ Perhaps they were in the crowd at Suncorp Stadium or at the Petersham Inn or if they are like me, they were sitting on their couch absorbed in nothing but the score, clock and the next set of six.
I remember being a youngster and getting home on SOO Wednesday. Mum would make dinner a little bit early so the whole family could watch the game. My Dad would be doing his throat exercises ready to give hell to the referees like they could hear him. Everyone would be on the couch except me because I’d be on the floor with my legs crossed just waiting for the first whistle to blow. I would bow my head whilst they kicked off and look up just in time to see the first charge ignite the crowd and all the players.
My earliest memory of SOO was a hard loss for New South Wales (NSW). I’ve been told you remember a loss in more detail than a win. It came at the hands of a cross-eyed centre named Mark Coyne. At the end of rapid fired passes through the hands of Meninga, Renouf, Darren Smith and Langer, Coyne would finish with the ball and put it down with less than 30 seconds on the clock. Making the score 16-12 and a NSW loss in the 1st Game of 1994. I, like Brad Fittler at the time, had my face buried deep in my hands.
That series belonged to Mark Coyne. Even though other players may have made more tackles than him or scored more tries, it doesn’t matter because I remember THAT try. So I thought who else owned a series like Coyne did that 94 one?
Below is a list of players from 2000-2006 whom I think can claim ownership of that particular years State of Origin. I’ve tried to add some video to help.
From 2007 onwards the origin series are owned by the entity named “SmiThurSlatKyer”. Made up of the following players: Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurston, Billy Slater and Darren Lockyer.
2000 – Ryan Girdler
In the 2000 series NSW would score 104 points over the 3 games. Ryan Girdler would be responsible for 52 of those. Check out the records he broke/equalled in this series:
- Most points by an individual in an Origin series (52)
- Most goals by an individual in an Origin match (10 goals)
- Equalled most tries by an individual in an Origin match (3 tries)
On top of that Girds would take one of the best intercept tries I’ve seen in SOO history. He decimated the QLD defence and they had no answer for his running game. Some may say that he won Game 1 with his try to equal the score at 16-16. That try sparked the ‘good’ nature of Gordon Tallis, who after calling Harrigan a ‘fudging cheat’, was sent from the field. Dave Peachey would score 6 minutes later. Girds set the scene but Tallis played it perfectly.
2001 – Allan Langer
This was the year that Wayne Bennet had an epiphany that would cause NSW more drama than a day at Summer Bay (you’ll get the Home and Away reference in a minute). It was 1 – 1 by the time Game 3 came around and Bennett realised if he did some rearranging, Paul Green to Hooker, Kevin Campion to Bench and Chris Beattie back to the Shire, he could bring in Alfie. He immediately dialled a +44 home number and 2 weeks later Alf would be on a plane to Sydney. Yes, the mastercoach would strike again and bring home Langer and watch his team destroy NSW 40-14 in Game 3. Langer was responsible for all the tries, literally having a hand in every single try and snared one for himself. At the time Bennett wouldn’t have known it but he actually set QLD up to win the series next year by default. Langer only played one game but he owned the whole series with that Game 3 win.
2002 – Gordon Tallis
2002 has to go to Gordie. If not for the best defensive play of the series but also for the “what stupid thing can he do this time” moment he had. Here is what happened.
Lockyer would put a perfectly placed kick in the middle of the field. Tahu would collect the kick and slip a sneaky pass to Hodgson. Now remember that Hodgson weighed about as much Dakota Fanning at the time. Hodgson, whilst looking for space would spot a charging Gordon Tallis coming straight for him. Tallis proceeded to maul Hodgson by his shirt collar and drag him towards the sideline. Dragging him from the centre of the field to the sideline in one motion (a move he couldn’t really do in today’s game). It was so brilliant that even the small section of NSW fans were silent. Check it out here.
QLD would get the ball back on the Blues line and eventually score from that play. This defensive play would change the game. Of course who could forget in that same game later on Gordie would give that section of NSW fans the ‘one finger salute’. The middle finger in the air was said to be in retaliation to a few calls made about his Mother.
Yes Gordie, you won the series but your finger antics lost you the Australian Captaincy. So Gordie the 2002 series belongs to you for your defence of the Maroons and your Mum.
2003 – Andrew Johns
Although Joey Johns played in the 2001 and 2002 series, it was this series that would push him from ‘Knight’ to ‘King’. Joey made things look easy in Game 1 and 2. Do you remember that banana kick? Do you remember that wicked long ball he threw to Craig Wing? The smartest thing Phil Gould had Johns do in that series was push the pass. Joey was looking for that pass or kick every play. Gus and Joey both knew QLD would learn and hang off Johns. It then became too easy and he was basically walking over the try line. Clever coaching but even better execution.
I remember thinking that no player could stop Joey Johns. I was right. After the ‘03 series Johns wouldn’t play another full series because his body had it in for him. He would be injured from here on in and NSW would struggle because of that fact. At the time it didn’t matter because Johns showed QLD things they never did see again. Check out Game 1 highlights here.
2004 – Billy Slater
(My brother may hate me for this.) 2004 saw one of the most impressive solo tries ever scored in SOO history. Do you remember that try? It was nuts. Billy Slater wasn’t even playing fullback at the time. Rhys Wesser got the start after his perfect year in 2003 with the Panthers. Lockyer would put a grubber through and all eyes were all the speedsters (Wing, Tate or Wesser) but nobody saw Slater charge through and regather. He still had Minichello to beat which he did so with a chip over the top. Mini was on the back foot and by the time he turned around he would have seen Slater regather (again) and score the try. I will bet you any amount of money that they show this highlight on Origin night. They don’t show Shaun Timmins field goal in Game 1 or even Fittlers last Origin try. Seven years later and it’s still being shown in the highlight reel. That’s impressive and that’s why the 2004 series belongs to Billy Slater. Check it out here.
(Consolation for my brother – NSW won convincingly in Game 3 and Slater let in one of the softest tries of the series).
2005 – Brett Kimmorley
If you support the Blues then you will be shaking your head at that name. If you support the Maroons you will be nodding your head. So let’s look at it from the QLD point of view firstly.
Queenslander – With only 10 minutes left our team was winning by 19 points. The game was over. NSW would try to make a late run. A late Thurston field goal would put it into Golden Point at 20-20. NSW had QLD on the back foot. Out of nowhere Brett Kimmorley would throw a cracking pass for Matt Bowen who would score under the posts against the play. The score would be 24-20 and QLD would win thanks to a great try-assist from Brett Kimmorley.
New South Welshmen – Somehow we came back to make it 20-19 after QLD had us on the back foot the whole game. A sneaky Thurston field goal would push it to extra time. In extra time NSW defended their line like true champions and managed to regain possession. On the 2nd tackle the ball was thrown wide and Kimmorley was looking for a long ball. His long ball was intercepted by Matt Bowen who would score under the posts and cost NSW Game 1.
So why does Kimmorley own the ’05 series? Well for two reasons. One is that the Blues would rush Joey back from injury to save the series in Game 2 and 3. The other is that pass still haunts NSW supporters till this day. I thought I was the only person still bitter about that pass until I spoke to my buddy Jay about Kimmorley’s tips on the Foxsports website. His response was “Kimmorley’s tips? Here is a tip…say sorry for Game 1 you jerk!” So this series is for you Brett. If you hadn’t thrown that pass NSW might not have won that whole series.
2006 – Darren Lockyer
Lockyer would cement his place as QLD hero with this 2006 series. 2006 saw Game 3 in Melbourne and QLD were under the pump with only 10 minutes left. NSW’s fans were celebrating another great series victory. That was until Lockyer, moment killer, took it up a notch. Lockyer would setup Tate for what some would say was a consolation try. It wasn’t until Lockyer picked up the error from a wayward Hodgson pass and score in the last 5 minutes that it became clear NSW weren’t going to win. Have a look at it here.
Some people ask me why I think Lockyer is great. I say watch the last 10 minutes of the game 3 2006 SOO. He kept his cool and pushed his team, who looked dismantled at the half to a stadium standing finish. This finish was the initial demise of NSW and the rise of QLD. If NSW had won this game then QLD would have tried to regroup in 07, change the team, maybe even the coaches and not have the side we see taking the field tonight.
Lockyer deserved to own this series. This was the first he took for himself. Now he must share the credit with the other fantastic players he has outside him.
So the question still left to be asked is “who do I want to say ‘owned’ the 2011 series?”
If I was going to say someone from NSW who deserved to own a series, it would have to be Ben Creagh. Does this guy ever stop? He is built like Brad McKay 2.0 (bad haircut included). I get the feeling that by the time Game 3 comes around Beau Scott will be coming off the bench and Ben Creagh will be starting.
Let me finish by saying that I hope you have an awesome Origin night. I hope you order your pizza, drink your beer, cheer on your favourite player, give your mates hell, talk rubbish from 0:01 til 79:59 and remember that it’s not over til Game 3 is played. These are just some of the things I hope ‘on the try line’.
Posted on May 25, 2011, in State Of Origin and tagged Allan Langer, Andrew Johns, Ben Creagh, Billy Slater, Brett Kimmorley, Darren Lockyer, Gordon Tallis, Mark Coyne, Ryan Girdler, State Of Origin. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.