NSW, time to embrace our Origin failure
Over the past six years the humiliation of the New South Wales Blues in the State of Origin has been the best thing that could have happened to Origin football and indeed the whole rugby league world.
I’m not saying this as a parochial Queenslander, who is happy to see New South Wales get smashed again and again. I’m saying it as a New South Wales fan who feels a bitter emptiness at the end of every State of Origin campaign.
First, let’s dispel some myths.
Queensland’s dominance is not a result of any kind of tactical brilliance on the part of the Maroons’ organisation and structure.
Their success boils down to one simple fact: most of the world’s best rugby league players in the past six years have been Queenslanders.
The likes of Thurston, Cronk, Smith, Slater and of course Lockyer constitute what is probably the strongest side we’ll ever see wearing the maroon jumper.
Both New South Wales and Queensland fans should consider themselves privileged to have watched such a side play, during what will be considered a golden age of Origin football.
Believe me – it won’t always be this way.
Let me offer an analogy.
In the fourth century BC the most powerful country in the world was a small nation called Macedonia. Its armies conquered everything from Southern Europe all the way to India (most of the known world at the time) in a little under ten years.
Talented military strategists, led by a true military genius of history in Alexander the Great, had achieved the impossible.
Within a generation it was all gone – once the talent was no longer there, the country lost its empire and in the end its freedom.
I’m not saying Queensland with be conquered by the Roman Army in a few years (although anything is possible). I’m simply saying the current situation is one we should respect and enjoy because it won’t last forever.
Queensland’s domination has been brilliant for several other reasons.
As mentioned above we have all had the honour of watching the best players in the world playing their best football.
This has, I hope, finally rid Queensland rugby league of its underdog status.
How the next 30 years of Origin will play out, I’m not sure. But it will be a different Queensland due the success of this team. (Think of the Maroons as being Apple to the Blues’ Microsoft.)
The Queensland team has, for the most part, been brilliant role models for young footy players. They will continue to ensure the growth of the code, not only in Queensland but in New South Wales, where there is a solid grudging respect for the Maroons.
Just as the Queenslanders can no longer claim underdog status, New South Wales can no longer assume an arrogant attitude of being number one in rugby league.
The arrogance of New South Wales-based league administrators has been a blight on the game. The humiliation of the Blues year after year has surely shattered that complacent attitude.
Origin has never been so strongly supported in New South Wales, because finally the fans can enjoy something they have never experienced before – underdog status.
The New South Wales public might be frustrated that we can’t beat this land of giants, but underneath that frustration is a growing ambition and satisfaction in relishing the fight.
The New South Wales Blues have also grown in stature.
As little as a couple of years ago, players were putting club before Origin, saying they would make themselves unavailable for the Blues because of the lack of respect for the team.
That attitude doesn’t seem to be around anymore; playing for New South Wales is assuming its rightful stature.
The New South Wales public loves the debate which occurs every year around Origin time.
Finally, nothing brings a community together like losing together.
What was the greatest moment in recent British history? The answer is 1940. The Battle of Britain.
Through sheer guts and determination the massive might of Nazi Germany was held off and Britain was saved against terrible odds.
So six years of failure has reaped enormous benefit. And in the future we may well look back on this era as the golden age of Origin.
But of course, six years is quite enough.