Six of the Best: State of Origin moments

This article originally appeared in issue 399 of Rugby League World magazine. Issue 400 is currently in production and will be on sale from July 11. Click here to find out more about the magazine and to browse back issues click this link

2001 Origin III
It’s all about Alfie
Queensland coach Wayne Bennett pulled a proverbial rabbit out of a hat with the 2001 series poised at one-all, his captain Gorden Tallis out injured and the Maroons desperate to avenge the 3-0 whitewash of the previous year. The rabbit was Allan Langer, in his second season with Warrington Wolves in Super League, and recalled in unprecedented fashion. Legend having it he travelled back to Australia on an airline ticket booked under an assumed name. Queensland went a try down inside a minute but Alfie, at the age of 35, ran the Blues ragged with the help of Darren Lockyer, scoring a solo try in the 54th minute to take his side to a 26-8 victory.

Allan Langer in 2001

1991 Origin II
What a Geyer
The 1991 series, was ‘King’ Wally Lewis’ last, and is remembered as one of the best, with the winning margin in each game only two points, Queensland winning the decider at Lang Park 14-12. Ten minutes before the end of the game the ground announcer, reportedly on Lewis’s instruction, told the capacity crowd that he was playing his last game for Queensland. The Maroons supporters roared as they never had before to take their team home. The series is recalled fondly as much for the fights in the rain-soaked second game in Sydney. Just as the half-time siren blew, Blues second row Mark Geyer instigated a brawl when he whacked Steve Walters as he was on the ground. When referee David Manson pulled the two captains together, Lewis had another go at Geyer – and then another as the teams went off the pitch.

Wally Lewis in 1991
Wally Lewis in 1991

1988 Origin II
Unhappy, of Brisbane
There were 19 minutes to go at Lang Park, with New South Wales leading 6-4, having lost the opener in Sydney, when Blues loose forward Phil Daley took exception to Greg Conescu as he tackled him, and started an all-in brawl. When order was restored, referee Michael Stone sin-binned Conescu and Daley for ten minutes and then astoundingly awarded the penalty to the Blues. Queensland captain Wally Lewis was incredulous, prompting Stone to send him to the bin for five minutes. The crowd were in no way supportive of the referee’s actions and hundreds of beer cans flew onto the field in protest. Ball boys and officials threw the cans back in the stand so the game could continue. Lewis returned and helped his side to a 16-6 win, which they backed up in the decider at Sydney with a comprehensive 38-22 thrashing of the Blues to complete Queensland’s first ever 3–0 series whitewash.

Lewis and Lamb in 1988
Lewis and Lamb in 1988

1995 Origin II
One of the best
Over 50,000 spectators were at the MCG to see the second leg of the 1995 series, played out as the Super League War was at its height, with no Super League-aligned players eligible for selection. With the Brisbane Broncos in the Murdoch camp, Queensland looked severely weakened and a one-sided New South Wales win was confidently predicted. As it turned out the Maroons managed to win it 3-0, their first series win since 1991. The game in Melbourne was expected to be fiery and it blew up at the first scrum as Blues hooker Jim Sedaris began throwing punches at opposite Wayne Bartrim. “We’ve seen plenty of this in Origin, this is about one of the best,” Ray Warren’s commentary just about summed it up as almost five minutes elapsed before time was called off.

Queensland celebrate in 1995
Queensland celebrate in 1995

1994 Origin I
Miracles do happen
“That’s not a try, that’s a miracle,” shouted Ray Warren at the end of an astounding game at the Sydney Football Stadium. New South Wales had been the best team, leading 12-4 with five minutes to go before a Willie Carne try brought Queensland back to 10-12. But the Blues had the Maroons penned in their own ’20’ until… The ball was played on the right touchline. At first receiver, Allan Langer fired a long ball to Kevin Walters who fed on to Carne, whose overhead pass released Steve Renouf down the left. The centre raced away, found Michael Hancock on his inside. Hancock, Darren Smith and Langer again all threw passes to the right as they were tackled in turn and Mal Meninga gave the final pass to send Mark Coyne to the right corner. Coyne had Brad Fittler and Ricky Stuart to go through, reach out and score.

Queensland won in thrilling fashion back in 1994

2004 Origin II
The greatest Origin try
Golden Point was first played in an Origin match in the first game in 2004, with Shaun Timmins kicking a field goal to give the Blues a 9-8 win. But the series was best marked in game two, as the Maroons hit back, with the young Billy Slater scoring one of the great Origin tries. With the Maroons trailing 12-10 just after the hour mark, Darren Lockyer grubbered through on half way on a set move. Slater tore through, gathered the ball at lightning speed, chipped over Blues fullback Anthony Minichiello, regathered on the run and scored. Queensland won the game 22-18 but the Blues won the decider 36-14.

Billy Slater scored what many believe to be the best Origin try ever in 2004
Billy Slater scored what many believe to be the best Origin try ever in 2004

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