On Sunday the New South Wales Blues won the 2021 State of Origin series after two consecutive dominant displays of football.
Like clockwork the talks of a dynasty began echoing throughout the New South Wales media and the ranks of former Blues representative players.
When will they learn?
The word ‘dynasty’ is thrown around after something as little as a hard run or a line break from a New South Wales player. That eight-year reign of Queensland was incredible, and as a Queenslander I cannot see it being replicated again by either state. It was an anomaly. A team filled with five potential future Immortals and a handful of hall of famers. Yet time and time again after they win a series New South Wales can’t help but say, “This is our time for a dynasty”.
On that note let us journey back.
From 2003 to 2005 New South Wales had a stranglehold on State of Origin. A star-studded backline of Anthony Minichiello, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Matt King and of course eighth Immortal Andrew Johns. I will give New South Wales the benefit here. The word ‘dynasty’ had not been brought up at this stage yet, but this Blues team were about to create one, that’s for sure.
But those plans were shattered in 2006 after a loose ball was picked up by Darren Lockyer and Queensland won their first series in three years. For eight long years Queensland owned the Origin arena with players like Cameron Smith, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk, creating a historic and first State of Origin dynasty.
Then, in 2014, it all came crumbling down.
New South Wales picked up a brand-new halves pairing from the then in-form Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs pair Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds. A firing Jarryd Hayne was playing fullback, and everything clicked for New South Wales that year.
The run from Queensland was over and – you know it – the New South Wales media were saying, “It’s our time for a dynasty”. To be fair, it looked all but certain. Queensland’s crop of Origin greats wasn’t getting any younger, while New South Wales had fresh talent coming into the side.
But in 2015 those talks were once again silenced.
Game 1 of the 2015 Origin series was won with a Cooper Cronk field goal, and Queensland were not looking the same as they usually did. They were a little bit slower, a little bit older.
In Game 2 the Maroons were ambushed by a hungrier and faster New South Wales side. Michael Jennings, Josh Morris and Mitchell Pearce all had great games, with Pearce telling Thurston he was too old on the final whistle.
In Game 3 Queensland put in one of the most complete games in Origin history, beating New South Wales 52-6 and taking out the 2015 series. Queensland then went on to win 2016 and 2017. The 2017 Origin series would be the final series played by Thurston, Smith and Cronk.
In 2018 and 2019 New South Wales won back-to-back series, with the likes of Nathan Cleary, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell all making their debut in 2018. This squad was the likely one to create a dynasty of their own. The media said it, New South Wales former players said it and, heck, even Queenslanders might have thought it.
But once again those dreams were halted.
In 2020, in unique and trying times, especially for rugby league, Queensland pulled off the unthinkable. The so-called worst Queensland side in 40 years with Wayne Bennett as coach beat New South Wales in a truly amazing series. Debutants AJ Brimson, Xavier Coates, Kurt Capewell and Harry Grant all provided magical moments for Queensland.
Finally, in 2021, New South Wales defeated Queensland by dominating in the opening two games, scoring 76-6 across both. Once again the New South Wales media are screaming and shouting that it’s time for the great Blues dynasty. Don’t get me wrong, New South Wales have a fantastic team, and I couldn’t help but watch in awe their skill across the two games.
But State of Origin is back to its former self of the 1990s and 2000s. I can see New South Wales winning a couple of series in a row, maybe three tops, but Queensland will be there to take a series away, maybe even a couple back to back.
So do yourself a favour, New South Wales, and don’t get your hopes up.