Five worst Origin moments: Queensland

Chris Chard Columnist

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    Justin Hodges is free to play, an that's good for the game. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan)

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    With their all-out dominance in the interstate arena it would be simple for many fair-weather footy fans to think that the history of State of Origin has seen the Maroons sail smoothly to success.

    This, however, is simply not the case, as for every Darren Lockyer or Johnathan Thurston moment of magnificence, there has been a Daniel Wagon or Stu Kelly catastrophe.

    Yes, there have been some dark times indeed, and here are the five worst Origin moments in Queensland’s history.

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    Martin Bella playing the ball wrong way
    Origin. The gladiators’ cauldron. The toughest of the tough. The most skilled players in the… oops hang on, that balding fat bloke just played the ball the wrong way.

    Perhaps not a massive life or death style mistake from big Marty – he’d save that for the grand final later that year – but nonetheless one that put the Blues in a great attacking position and is unlikely to feature in any of Big Mal’s pre-match bus ride videos this year.

    Justin Hodges debut blunders
    Before Justin Hodges was a niggling, spoiling, aggressive veteran player, he was a fresh-faced… niggling, spoiling, aggressive player.

    Making his debut for Queensland in Game 2 of the 2002 series, Hodges was reunited with the coach who’d given him the brush at the Broncos in Wayne Bennett. He repaid him for a season spent in reggies with an individual performance even Frank Spencer from ‘Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em’ would describe as ‘mildly catastrophic’ before being hooked with 20-odd minutes remaining.

    Somehow Queensland still won the game and went on to draw the series, thus paving the way for Hodges to re-unite with Bennett at the Broncos and safely walk the streets of Brisbane without Brad Thorn as his bodyguard once more.

    Gorden Tallis send-off 2000
    While the 2000 series has become something of a ‘happy place’ for increasingly desperate NSW fans, the first game of the lopsided series was actually an extremely tense affair.

    When NSW levelled the scores after a lead-up that saw more knock-ons than a Greater Western Sydney match on an ice hockey rink, Tallis – who wasn’t captain for the match – confronted Bill Harrigan like he’d just seen him whiz in his water bottle, and after a heated exchange big Gordy received his marching orders.

    NSW would go on to score a late sealing try before going onto demolish the Maroons in the remaining two games of the series.

    Game 3, 2000 – the Hand grenade
    Yes, if there was a personification of Queensland’s woes in 2000 it was the grinning Edward E Neuman-like face of Bryan Fletcher going through a clearly pre-rehearsed, and annoyingly perfectly executed try celebration as the Blues ran up a netball score on Mark Murray’s men.

    While Queensland sides have been beaten before in Origin, they’d never been a laughing stock, and to this day if I happen to be in any public house North of the Border when this moment is replayed on the telly I know I’ve got about six seconds to get my Wollongong-raised rump underneath the nearest pool table before I end up looking like the Blues’ bus after its rolled down Caxton street.

    Mal’s last game in 1994
    The 1994 Origin series was one of the most intriguing to date. There was the miracle finish in Game 1, the huge crowd in Melbourne for Game 2 and the decider in Game 3, which also happened to be Mal Meninga’s last match.

    As a man Mal had been there since day dot, and even in his final season was still the single most influential player in the game. With NSW never having clinched a decider at Lang Park, the stage was set for Queensland’s night of nights.

    Or not.

    What eventuated was a flop of Billy Idol proportions, as the Blues muscled their way to a tough victory, with Mal suffering the added indignity of laying the last hand on the Blues’ winning try.

    Chris Chard
    Chris Chard

    Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious