Regarding the State of Origin

Regarding the State-of-Origin

May 10, 2000 (updated April 2005)

 

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the inaugural State of Origin rugby league match, I would like to add my contribution to the growing list of 'Greatest Ever' sides for the two teams. They have been chosen on performances in Origin matches and also on how much they typify the spirit of State of Origin rugby league.

 

NEW SOUTH WALES

 

QUEENSLAND

Tim Brasher

1

Darren Lockyer (gk)

Timana Tahu

2

Dale Shearer

Matthew Gidley

3

Chris Close

Ryan Girdler

4

Peter Jackson

Michael O'Connor (gk)

5

Brett Dallas

Laurie Daley

6

Wally Lewis (c)

Andrew Johns

7

Allan Langer

Glenn Lazarus

8

Shane Webcke

Ben Elias (c)

9

Wayne Bartrim

Paul Harragon

10

Steve Price

Noel Cleal

11

Trevor Gillmeister

Ben Kennedy

12

Paul Vautin

Luke Ricketson

13

Billy Moore

 

 

 

Brad Fittler

14

Kevin Walters

Bradley Clyde

15

Sam Backo

Ian Roberts

16

Martin Bella

Steve Roach

17

Kerrod Walters

Phil Gould

Coach

WAYNE BENNETT

 

There aren't really too many surprises here. One might be the absence of Mal Meninga for Queensland, but I feel that he never stood out at Origin level as Close and Jackson did so memorably. Wayne Bartrim at hooker may also be a surprise, but he was one of the heroes of the 1995 series for the Cane Toads and seemed more passionate about Origin than the better-performed Steve Walters, who also loses out on a spot to his younger brother Kerrod for similar reasons.

 

and now... The Serious Bit

 

My memories of State of Origin as a youngster are painful. I moved from Newcastle to Brisbane in 1986 and was immediately branded a 'cockroach' (the colloquial name for New South Welshmen in these parts) by the kids at school who, in their defence, were only doing what their fathers were doing. New South Wales won the first match of the 1987 series and then proceeded to lose the next eight matches straight. A Queensland win in an Origin match would inevitably be followed by a bashing at school by young parochialists keen to find an enemy to assert their dominance over something, no matter how thin and weak he was.

 

The best thing to happen to State of Origin was the Super League war. The result of the ARL / Super League split was that people realised that these rugby league players were not gods, damn it, they weren't even heroes. The public realised that their happiness shouldn't depend on the result of a football game played by a group of money-grabbing mercenaries.

 

The fervour surrounding State of Origin seems to be slightly on the rise again, but it won't approach the bad old days of the eighties again. Queensland has lost a lot of its inferiority complex, largely due to their success in the Origin, but also now that Brisbane is a much more vibrant city than it was and isn't constantly trying to prove itself anymore (it's also full of ex-New South Welshmen!).

 

To those, however, who still cling to the belief that getting drunk at the Caxton on Origin night and hurling obscenities at people whose only fault is to be a talented footballer from another state is a good way to have fun, I have one thing to say to you; FUCK YOU! You make attending this high quality sporting event an impossibility for those of us with standards of fairness and you maintain the inferiority complex that has crippled this part of the world for so long.

 

If anyone has any tales of 'cockroaches' being bashed in Queensland schools for the simple crime of liking a team from somewhere else, please let me know. I have some scores to settle!

 

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