Watching NSW slump to their tenth series loss in the last eleven years, I could not help but ask myself where has it all gone wrong?
Plaudits will come thick and fast for the all-conquering Maroons but for those who watch rather than cheer there is very little, if anything, that separates these two champion teams. Even now after years of Maroon dominance this is still the most captivating sporting event on the Australian landscape. This is due to the close and competitive nature which the battle is fought in.
In the vast majority of games and series over the last eleven years there are but a few fleeting moments that have decided the fates and careers of players blessed to take part in State of Origin. Darren Lockyer pouncing on a wayward pass to start the Maroon streak, Cooper Cronk icing a field from over forty out to seal a series, Greg Inglis leaving a wake of destruction on the way to the try line and Johnathan Thurston’s many ‘show and gos’.
You can replace any of these Maroon moments with the names of their NSW counterparts and the scenario would not look out of place. Queensland supporters like myself will tell you that while the NSW players are very talented they will not deliver these moments on the biggest stage of all, because they cannot match the much vaunted Queensland spirit – that unshakable belief in the Queensland guernsey.
This though is just propaganda and bravado being used to further demoralise the enemy. I know the desperate truth that is in all Queenslanders’ hearts old enough to remember. That truth is that we should be afraid, very afraid.
Queensland victories were few and far between during my childhood, they were something to be treasured and cherished. Our teams then in many ways shared many of the characteristics of NSW teams of the modern era.
They put in brave tradesmen like performances, grasping to get ahead but always seeming to win fewer of the big moments. NSW may have not enjoyed the same dominance then as Queensland enjoy now, but they had their devastating moments.
Origin 3 in 2000 was a two-hour living nightmare for any Queenslander. The pain is still etched in my brain to this day, watching NSW score try after try and Ryan Girdler sink goal after goal.
Those NSW moments are not far from returning. If we do not begin to see them manifest in Game 3 we will most definitely see them next year, much to this Queenslander’s dismay. Though the post-mortem in this series dictates that all NSW selections and coaching decisions must be scrutinised in a most glaring and negative light, I say take faith New South Welshman.
Your young and brave team are more desperate to win than ever, and win they will.