There has been a huge amount written about State of Origin over recent days. Topics such as the Blues’ current malaise, just how many Queenslanders are future Immortals, what Laurie should do, why Bozo is there and so on.
Now I love State of Origin. I look forward to it every year.
But there’s been something missing from state matches in recent years. I have been wracking my brains trying to identify what this factor is, but to no avail.
I simply haven’t been able to put my finger on it.
Then I came across footage from Game 2 of the 1971 state series between New South Wales and Queensland, a match that was played at Lang Park on 29 May 1971 – a Saturday! – in front of 19,308 parochial Queenslanders.
On that afternoon, New South Wales easily accounted for Queensland, 30-2. But it’s not the result I yearn for, despite the past decade of pain and disappointment.
Then I came across actual footage from this match, and I quickly understood what was missing.
It’s the biff. And Wayne Bennett. But mainly the biff.
This state match had it all. There is more in this brief three minutes and 32 seconds than in the entire 2016 series thus far.
Consider the following.
There were a total of four players sent off by referee Keith Holman. Queenslanders Russell Hughes, Ray Laird and Rod Tolhurst and New South Welshman Bob O’Reilly (who was born in Rocklea, Queensland but was a Parramatta junior).
The Immortal and current Blues selector, Bob Fulton, was coat-hangered without the ball.
There is a brief glimpse of a young, lanky Wayne Bennett playing on the wing for Queensland (he incidentally scored Queensland’s only points with a penalty goal).
There was a three-man scrum, which I think we should bring back. It just works.
There was a ground invader who got a little too close and cosy with a Blues player.
The Queensland constabulary had to enter the field of play.
A couple of young Queensland lasses enjoyed the biff a little too much.
Queensland fans did the unthinkable and started throwing cans (and bottles!) onto the field. One of Queensland’s finest took an awesome catch in the outfield
So let’s lift out game for the final instalment of State of Origin 2016.
Let’s bring bang the biff. And Wayne Bennett.