State of Origin’s 10 Greatest Moments
Across its 36-year history, State of Origin has provided us with some of the best moments in modern rugby league history. From fights to field goals and freakish tries, we combed through the archives to bring you our list of the best moments in State of Origin.
10. Darren Lockyer Starts the Decade of Dominance
(Game 3, 2006)
They didn’t know it at the time, but Brett Hodgson’s wayward pass which led to Darren Lockyer’s try in the deciding game of 2006 would kick-start a period of eight joyless years for the Blues.
After Hodgson’s pass hit the deck, Lockyer scooped the Steeden up at full pace, fending away Luke Bailey to dart 10 metres for a try which finished with a mass of maroon jerseys piling on top of their inspirational captain.
Fullback Clinton Schifcofske’s conversion from in front of the sticks handed Queensland a 16-14 win, and from that moment on they wouldn’t lose a series until 2014.
9. Shaun Timmins the Unlikely Hero
(Game 1, 2004)
When golden point rolled around in Game 1 of the 2004 series, NSW five-eighth Shaun Timmins had only kicked one field goal in his career – eight years earlier while playing for Illawarra.
It seemed unlikely, then, that he would be the man to receive the ball to attempt a match-winning kick – and even less likely that he would be successful – but with two minutes and 17 seconds gone in added time Timmins struck the ball with his powerful left boot from 35 metres out and guided it straight down the middle to send NSW into mayhem.
Playing the vital role in the 9-8 victory capped off a rollercoaster match for Timmins, who earlier had let Queensland’s Scott Prince through for a soft try, before scoring one himself just after the break.
Post-match Timmins had a simple answer when quizzed about his field goal form leading into the match: “At training I’m normally not real good [at them].”
8. Freddy’s Farewell
(Game 3, 2004)
Facing an injury crisis in the halves after losing Shaun Timmins, Craig Gower, Matt Orford, Brett Kimmorley and Trent Barrett, NSW coach Phil Gould convinced Brad Fittler to come out of representative retirement.
Unlike Allan Langer’s comeback three years earlier, Fittler’s ended with his side going down 22-18 at Suncorp Stadium, but his performance in Game II was enough to see him retained for the ensuing decider, where he went out with a bang.
The Blues powered to a 36-14 win to wrap up the series, with Fittler scoring the last try via a charge down in his 31st and final match for his state.
7. That Tackle: The Gorden Tallis ‘Rag Doll’
(Game 2, 2002)
More lion v gazelle on the Discovery Channel than Cane Toad v Cockroach on Channel 9.
It’s unlikely poor old Brett Hodgson would include it on his personal list of favourite State of Origin moments, but this tackle has been replayed over and over since 2002, and will continue to be for the rest of time.
After Hodgson attempted to round Gorden Tallis on a kick return, ‘The Raging Bull’ collared and spun him like a possessed washing machine in an action which saw the diminutive No.1, who at the time weighed just over 70kgs, dragged 15 metres on his way over the sideline.
The tackle is also believed to have been the catalyst for a journalist inventing the term ‘rag doll’ to describe a tackle.
6. Billy Slater’s Chip and Chase
(Game 2, 2004)
He wasn’t yet 21 years of age, but Billy Slater confirmed he would be a Queensland star for years to come with this magnificent individual play in the second game of the series.
The play took less than seven seconds to unfold, but somehow Slater managed to showcase almost all of the skills which would later see him become one of the best fullbacks of all time.
The game-awareness to perfectly time his run onto a Darren Lockyer grubber, the speed and evasion to get around the desperate cover defence and the vision to chip over Anthony Minichiello and regather for the four-pointer.
At the time commentator Ray Warren dubbed it “one of the great Origin tries,” and to this day it is arguably the best individual four-pointer seen in the interstate series.
5. Alfie’s Comeback
(Game 3, 2001)
At 34, having already ‘retired’ two years earlier, and by this point playing his rugby league for Warrington in the UK, Allan Langer wasn’t meant to be able to compete at this level anymore.
So much for that.
Langer was brought into the Queensland camp under a shroud of secrecy by coach Wayne Bennett, who made a calculated guess that the legendary halfback would be the perfect man to boost the morale and performance of his squad.
The freelance gig turned into a fairy-tale return, with Langer scoring a try and laying on a further two in what he labels the highlight of his illustrious career.
4. O’Connor From the Sideline
(Game 2, 1991)
A night dogged by miserable weather looked set to end in fitting fashion for NSW, before Mark McGaw touched down to even the scores and presented Michael O’Connor with the chance to win the match with a sideline conversion.
O’Connor had hit two from three attempts earlier, but given he had relinquished kicking duties for his Manly club side that year he was hardly the ideal candidate for the job.
It didn’t matter. After quickly re-adjusting his shorts and giving his hands a shake, O’Connor put his head down, moved in and thumped the Steeden to the right before it swung in and over the black dot for a memorable NSW win.
3. Wally Lewis v Mark Geyer
(Game 2, 1991)
Arguably the most iconic image in the history of State of Origin is that of ‘The King’ Wally Lewis and Mark ‘MG’ Geyer snarling in each other’s faces amid the rain at the Sydney Football Stadium.
With Geyer having been told to get physical or get dropped – something which wouldn’t come out publicly until years later – he embarked on a mission of destruction against anyone wearing Maroon.
After hitting Steve Walters with a high shot and forearm blow, a flurry of punches ensued in a mass brawl. As both Lewis and Geyer were receiving a caution from referee David Manson, Lewis decided to take matters into his own hands and squared off with his much bigger opponent.
It was a reminder that when it comes to State of Origin, physical size or legendary status mean nothing once the whistle blows.
2. NSW Breaks the Drought
(Game 2, 1985)
After losing the first five State of Origin shields to Queensland, the Blues finally tasted series success after winning Game 1 and 2 in 1985.
After smashing Queensland 18-2 in the first match, NSW raced out to a 12-0 lead in Game 2 before the old foe fired back to lead 14-12.
Up stepped Michael O’Connor to kick a penalty and conversion, before Parramatta magician Brett Kenny sealed the 21-14 win with a late try.
The Blues rejoiced, captain Steve Mortimer dropped to ground and kissed the Sydney Cricket Ground turf and for the first time since the inception of State of Origin, NSW knew how it felt to say they were better than the Cane Toads.
1. Mark Coyne’s Miracle Try (Game 1, 1994)
“That’s not a try, that’s a miracle!” roared Ray Warren as Mark Coyne slipped through the final two would-be tacklers to score an incredible match-winning try for the Maroons.
The man they call ‘Rabs’ wasn’t wrong.
First the ball went all the way left, where some trademark zip from freakish centre Steve Renouf gave life to an otherwise dormant-looking play, before a big shift back to the right featuring late passes from most of the Queensland team saw the ball eventually find Coyne, who stepped back inside and burrowed low to score with seconds remaining on the clock.
It secured a 16-12 win for Queensland after they had been 12-4 down with five minutes remaining.