In the 1980s, King Wally Lewis virtually was State of Origin.
In the nine series he played, he won six and only lost three. The two one-off matches in 1980 and 1981 he won as well. Queensland were standing up to NSW and he was their leader, and they followed.
In the ’90s, Gus Gould termed the phrase “out-Origin Queensland” and that’s what NSW did.
The word of course did not exist, and nobody quite knew what it meant exactly, but they bought into it, and NSW did out-Origin the Maroons. The Blues dominated the ’90s and had worked out how to play Queensland, and how to beat them.
The 2000s had more of the same. With Gus coming back for more success and greats like Andrew Johns and Freddy Fittler playing for the Blues, NSW overtook Queendsland on most series wins. It was 12-10 by 2005.
Then the great Queensland team emerged. The best of the best, and they dominated, winning eight series straight and 11 from the last 12. Johnathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk. They will all become Hall of Famers. These were simply great rugby league players.
But now in the wake of that great era, is State of Origin becoming boring? In an era when the game has become more sanitised and cleaner, is rugby league’s showcase losing its spark?
How many future all-time greats were on display on Wednesday night? The halves on both sides – the playmakers that make it happen – are all good enough players, but none of them will become greats in the sport.
The match itself was a good game of rugby league, but nothing more.
The defense from NSW was superb in the first half, and then when Queensland hunted as a pack in the second half to turn the match around, the Maroons were quite simply outstanding.
So it was a good match with some excellent moments. However it just lacked that special something that great players bring.
There were no big hits that will live in the memory. No Mark Geyer vs Wally Lewis, or Terry Hill vs Gorden Tallis moments, no get-off-your-seat or did-you-see-that moments.
Dane Gagai produced an exciting intercept but every intercept will get somebody excited. That Origin moment just didn’t happen.
That’s not to say that there weren’t great players on display. James Tedesco and Kalyn Ponga will end up as great players barring injury.
But how many more that were playing on Wednesday will end with that tag? Probably nobody.
Was the Origin boring? According to Paul Vautin it was a great game of rugby league. But Fatty said this about Origin One in 2003, and that wasn’t a memorable game played in the sand at Suncorp. It was a good game, just like this one.
So Origin boring? No, but it did lack something.
We will wait to see if NSW just add a bit of spice to proceedings in the next match, or they could be back where they have been since 2005, watching Queensland raise that shield for yet another time.