New South Wales does not understand Origin again, with their insistent state of confusion returning after grasping the concept for almost seven entire days.
The relapse was confirmed on Wednesday night after another soul-destroying series loss, this time again to Queensland, the undisputed gatekeepers and arbiters of understanding Origin.
Despite a crippling injury toll, 14 debutantes and a late-arriving coach, the stoic Maroons dug deep to deny the Blues not only a rare three-peat but also the chance to heroically push out the injured James Tedesco in a wheelchair at full time.
However, most concerns in Brad Fittler’s camp centred not around the painful defeat, but whether the state will ever fully comprehend a fickle and unquantifiable concept only determinable by cultural headwinds, winning and Wally Lewis.
The state’s angst was most heightened after believing they had finally grasped Origin after Game 2, with the side seemingly decoding what it takes to beat Queensland by simply wiping out Cam Munster in the second minute.
But with the unlosable series now sitting snugly in the pocket of Wayne Bennett’s skinny chinos, stern questions will again need to be asked by Blues powerbrokers.
How can a Queensland first-gamer fall arse backwards into a jersey because of an injury crisis and still know more about the nuances of interstate warfare than Tyson Frizell? How do we care more? What’s up with Dane Gagai?
While seemingly erratic to those who grasp Origin, NSW’s spasmodic understanding is excruciatingly seasonal. They can appear to care more than Queensland and then not, sometimes even within in the space of a match.
While not always immediately detectable, the Blues’ illiteracy can usually be identified in stages. Firstly, with a “better side on paper”, before savaging our own and reverting to petty point-scoring and woe-is-us articles complaining we don’t understand the concept, despite recently winning two series in a row and having superior global tourist icons.
The confusion can also be exacerbated by picking talented playmakers – except six instead of two – and cocky former greats unloading frivolous motivational barbs that are the verbal equivalent of a hospital hit upon the fourth tackle because as we know, sledging Queensland with the result undecided has never backfired on us before.
In contrast, Queensland remain the gatekeepers of Origin’s essence, however, they continue to guard the secret like a valuables box filled with nuclear codes and secret herbs and spices.
Outsiders continue to aimlessly speculate, debating whether it boils down to running harder, tackling for 85 minutes or picking captains who don’t keep getting knocked out.
Conversely, others have mused that Origin’s true meaning is to pick-and-stick and dig-in at all costs, even if the birth certificate says they were born in Kempsey.
More primitively, some say it arises simply from Queensland deeply loathing NSW. However, this argument is easily nullified when considering NSW bear equal volumes of hatred, albeit mostly for themselves.
Nevertheless, knowing what makes Origin tick is a privilege NSW may never realise, a concept that can skyrocket even the most rank-and-file Queenslander to great heights of achievement and pomposity.
This is best illustrated in the famed words “Queensland want, NSW expect”, not because the words are so profound, but because they were actually from a ‘BrettoQLDER78’ in the Courier Mail comments section.
The deep-seated passion can even influence high office, with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk opening the borders to everyone except Sydney because she only wanted people inside the state who “go the full 80”.
But despite another year of soul-searching, upon closer inspection it could appear NSW actually does get Origin. Perhaps by not getting it, it is perfectly playing its designated role.
Alternatively, maybe we just need a utility on the bench.
And besides, whatever happens on that scoreboard, we always win on paper.