40 greatest State of Origin moments of all-time
News Corp Australia is celebrating four decades of passion and pride with a 40 Years of State of Origin gloss magazine.
In a must for sport lovers leading into this year's milestone series, the 68-page commemorative publication is a celebration of Origin's incredible games and names.
Featuring the moments, the characters, the fights and the funnies, 40 Years of State of Origin is the ultimate tribute to rugby league's showpiece event.
On sale in participating newsagents and supermarkets NOW, the magazine is just $4.95 when buying a copy of your local News Corp Australia newspaper in NSW, Queensland or Victoria.
Here's a sample from the magazine below:
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NSW BLUES TOP 20
By Nick Walshaw
1. Andrew Johns' Perfect 10
Game 2, 2005, Telstra Stadium
Queenslanders can talk up The King, Big Artie, even GI, but nobody owns a better Origin performance than Andrew Gary Johns. Put simply, this second game of the '05 series - when, incredibly, Joey was only an 11th-hour inclusion - remains the greatest performance by rugby league's greatest player.
Sidelined for the best part of a year with a wrecked knee and then a busted jaw, Johns was parachuted into the Blues No.7 jersey as a late replacement for the injured Trent Barrett - and subsequently played like he was born for nothing else. With NSW already down one-zip in the series, Joey would not only clinch this game, but then the decider with a pair of performances that will leave future generations questioning how the bloody hell we ever played him at No.9?
2. Michael O'Connor sideline conversion
Game 2, 1991, SFS
With apologies to Jean-Claude Van Damme, no kick produced a better KO anywhere in the '90s than this sideline conversion by Michael O'Connor. NSW had levelled the scores with only minutes to play before the Steeden was tossed to O'Connor for a sideline attempt where, put bluntly, everything was stacked against him. For a start, the Blues No.3 wasn't even the regular goalkicker at his club. Worse, the ground was soaked. Throw in, too, the pressure of knowing a miss would not only leave the game drawn, but gift reigning champs Queensland the shield. Yet seemingly oblivious to it all, O'Connor curled his kick over perfectly from the right touchline - like a roundhouse to the jugular of Queenslanders everywhere.
3. Steve Mortimer collapses
Game 2, 1985, Sydney Cricket Ground
Nothing beats your first time, right? And so it remains for Steven "Turvey" Mortimer, that gutsy No.7 who is forever remembered as the bloke who proved Origin isn't only for Banana-benders. While Queensland may have owned the first five years of Origin, it was Mortimer who not only convinced men such as Brett Kenny, "Blocker" Roach and Benny Elias things could be different, but the state of NSW. Tough, uncompromising and passionate, Turvey is the man on whom everything changed. Undoubtedly, when he dropped to the SCG turf in unabashed ecstasy it became our most enduring Origin image, too.
4. MG v Wally
Game 2, 1991, Sydney Football Stadium
Outside that time Mick Fanning punched a shark, you have to wonder if any Aussie athlete has come closer to death and still lived than "The King" this night. Sure, Queenslanders will tell you their greatest Origin hero had a young MG covered as the pair threatened to throw down in pouring rain. But they tell a different story in the carparks out Penrith way. Indeed, while he only wore the sky blue three times, MG remains one of the state's Origin greats - largely because of this night, when he attempted to not only kill a king, but turn every Maroon into a white chalk outline.
5. Brad Fittler's charge-down try
Game 3, 2004, Telstra Stadium
Brad Fittler reckons he was lucky with the bounce this night, which may be true. But, still, who else even gets close to charging down a Darren Lockyer kick? Much less scoring from it? But Fittler did - just as this same series he taught Danny Buderus what Origin captaincy meant and gave coach Phil Gould his greatest series win. Long before he was saving a state as NSW Origin coach, "Freddy" did the same as a player. Coming out of representative retirement for this series, after no less than five other playmakers had withdrawn, he not only starred in the decider, but earned a late charge-down try that clinched it - sending he and great mate "Gus" Gould out on top.
6. Bert outplays the King, again
Game 3, 1986, Lang Park
If Wally Lewis is the greatest Origin player, what does that make the New South Welshman who beat him two-thirds of the time? For this is what Parramatta No.6 Brett Kenny did. In a dozen contests against The King, "Bert" won eight, none better than when he led NSW to its first series whitewash, at Queensland league's spiritual home. Asked about Kenny, The King said: "He was the greatest I ever saw play Origin. No disrespect to anyone else on the field, but it was Brett Kenny first and daylight second." Here was a rivalry so wonderfully Origin, the image of the foes locked in an arm wrestle adorned the shield for years.
7. Jarryd Hayne's debut try
Game 1, 2007, Suncorp Stadium
Say what you want about Jarryd Hayne - plenty do - but rugby league has never known a more complete athlete. Debuting for NSW at only 18, this Minto housing commission kid needed less than one half of footy to score what remains one of Origin's greatest tries. Trapping a Brent Tate grubber inside his own half, and near the left touchline, Haynsey then picked up the ball and, thwack, fended off Justin Hodges, exploded upfield, saw the Queenslanders converging, so grubbered, regathered, sprinted again and scored. Arrived at Origin level in every sense.
8. Trent Hodkinson calls 'Bluuuuuuues'
Game 2, 2014, ANZ Stadium
Here, truly, is the most underrated play - and hero - in NSW Origin history. And it goes something like this: Blues down by four, nine minutes to play, and attacking the Queensland tryline. Already Maroons fullback Billy Slater has shifted to the open side in defence. So "Hodko", sitting on the blind, shouts the team's overcall, "Bluuuuues", to hooker Robbie Farah. Better, Farah hears him, shooting the Steeden out of dummy-half and his way. From there, Hodkinson runs, fakes a pass to Ryan Hoffman, then runs again ... over the tryline and into history as the man who broke a Queensland reign stretching eight long years.
9. Shaun Timmins' field goal
Game 1, 2004, Telstra Stadium
Few remember, but Shaun Timmins had been hooked. He was warming the pine on fulltime with the scores locked at 8-all. Coach Phil Gould approached his makeshift No.6, and said: "Timmo ... I've gotta have you on the field for this." And so it proved. Specifically, two minutes into Origin's first golden point game, when this Kiama product nailed the match-winner from no less than 37m out. Legend.
Game 3, 1997, Sydney Football Stadium
You may find this hard to believe, kids, but there was a time when the NSW Origin coach could stand and scream "Cattledog", and expect every one of his players to start swinging. Which wasn't exactly PC. But, geez, nor was Tommy Raudonikis, whose famed war cry was beloved by Spudd, Chief and every other Blues player not named Joey - who this particular night ate the right hand of Queensland No.9 Jamie Goddard, requiring 27 stitches. Regardless, the Cattledog call has since become synonymous with NSW grit.
11. Mark McGaw gets there
Game 1, 1987, Lang Park
How Mark McGaw managed to do anything in those shoulder pads - undoubtedly the highest thing in rugby league outside Smokin' Joe Kilroy - is anyone's guess. But in the opening game of '87, and with the scores 16-all, "Sparkles" found himself not only on the end of one final NSW backline shift, but surging away upfield. As cover arrived, McGaw attempted a pass back inside, only to watch the ball bounce off Maroons winger Tonie Currie then the leg of Peter Jackson before quickly tumbling towards the deadball line. Undeterred, and carrying about 200kg of padding on his shoulders, McGaw still chased, dived and - impossibly - scored. Game over.
12. Finchy's field goal
Game 1, 2006, Telstra Stadium
Brett Finch was sprawled out on his Eastern Suburbs couch nursing the effects of a two-day bender when Origin's most unforgettable SOS call arrived. Specifically, NSW needed "Finchy" to replace Craig Gower in the No.7 jersey. Oh, yeah, and in about 24 hours. Which was a little, err, surprising given not only his state, but the fact that six weeks earlier he wasn't even the starting halfback at his club. Regardless, one of rugby league's most endearing larrikins not only stepped up, but starred - scoring a try, orchestrating two more and then, with two minutes remaining, kicking the field goal that secured a 17-16 win.
13. Barbara Elias and her bloody tissue
Game 1, 1992, Sydney Football Stadium
Nothing says Origin quite like Barbara Elias, bloodied tissue in hand, tending to her boy's battered melon after fulltime of the '92 series opener. How mum gained access to the field, who knows? Yet, undoubtedly, her very presence goes to the heart of an Australian contest that not only moves a mother to tears, but over the fence and onto the field. Which is also how it went this night, when Blues No.9 Benny Elias tackled, sweated and bled to get his side over the line 14-6. Then, as the TV cameras converged, had his wounds lovingly tended to by mum.
14. Fletch launches his handgrenade
Game 3, 2000, Stadium Australia
Queenslanders reckon this moment has motivated them for two decades. And thank goodness. Understanding that when larrikin forward Bryan Fletcher launched Origin's most recognised post-try celebration, it was in a game where NSW scored 56 points - including a record 32 for centre Ryan Girdler. Truly, had things become any worse for the Maroons, we'd likely be playing Tasmania by now. Regardless, Fletcher's grenade remains the undeniable image of our most convincing series win. A celebration, coincidentally, that was stolen from Any Given Sunday and practised by players earlier that week. According to whispers, it was on the Bourbon and Beefsteak dancefloor about 4am.
15. Gal whacks Myles
Game 1, 2013, ANZ Stadium
With two closed fists, rugby league changed forever. After more than 100 years of wonderful violence, NRL officials outlawed the punch after NSW skipper Paul Gallen took to rival Nate Myles like he was whacking cane toads with a three wood. Left, right, right again, uppercut. All this, too, after Myles had also been thwacked moments earlier by a "Gal" swinging arm. But, hey, wasn't this Origin? No, apparently not. Or not any more. Officals moved quickly to send all barneys, blues, stinks and set-tos the same way as boot polish under the eyes.
16. Paul Who?
Game 2, 1983, Sydney Cricket Ground
For those of us born in the bush, you cannot write a greatest NSW anything without including Paul Field - that rugged backrower plucked from Cootamundra Bulldogs to challenge Queenslanders such as Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Paul Vautin and Gene Miles. One of only three bush players to achieve the honour - along with Moree Boomerangs flyer Phil Duke and North Newcastle hooker Rex Wright - Field's selection is bettered only by the fact NSW won in his debut game, and at no less than the hallowed SCG.
17. American Invasion
Exhibition, 1987, Veterans Memorial Stadium
Everyone knows all Origin games matter, even dead rubbers. So when the bloody hell will Queenslanders finally accept this? Displaying the type of behaviour normally reserved for playground sandpits, the Banana Benders have never accepted that Origin's US debut counts like any other. Sure, the Maroons had already claimed the series. Just as the Long Beach game itself attracted little press and a crowd of 12,000, it is best remembered for Peter Sterling getting stuck in an oversized banner. Yet while players from both sides may have visited Disneyland only days earlier, a Mickey Mouse game this wasn't. All of which is why the Blues' 30-18 triumph counts.
18. Twin courage
Game 1, 2014, Suncorp Stadium
Despite racking up a lifetime of highlight reels and winning TAB tickets, Josh and Brett Morris are forever immortalised in Origin folklore for playing busted, as you would expect of twins, in the same game. Take winger Brett, who not only played 61 minutes of this game with a dislocated shoulder, but made a try-saving tackle on Darius Boyd that effectively decided the game. Brother Josh, meanwhile, was sprawled on the ground with 14 minutes to play, having been told his year was likely over with a busted ACL, when Maroons megastar Greg Inglis started on an attacking run upfield. At which point, Morris sprung up, took off and made the crucial tackle on what would eventually prove a posterior cruciate injury.
19. Nothing but sneakers
Game 3, 2013, ANZ Stadium
Everyone loves a big man running naked, right? Of course we do. And for that, the entire state of NSW is forever indebted to a wobbling Wati Holmwood and the enduring image that is his courageous streak in the dying stages of the 2013 decider. Despite winning game one that year, the Blues would go on to lose the next two for what would be an agonising eighth straight Origin defeat. But thanks to the big fella clad only in sneakers, we still left ANZ Stadium smiling.
20. Super League
Tri-Series Final, 1997, ANZ Stadium
Origin is one of those games you wish went all year. And in '97, it almost did. In a Super League year where - unthinkably - New Zealand was added to the Origin mix, NSW and Queensland not only still made the final, but played out the longest professional rugby league match on record at 104 minutes. With the scoreboard showing 18-all, the teams then played a further 20 minutes only to still be deadlocked at 22-all. At which point, Queensland skipper Allan Langer asked officials if a coin toss should decide things. Instead, a golden point was played with NSW No.7 Noel Goldthorpe booting a field goal to win it.
QUEENSLAND MAROONS TOP 20
By Travis Meyn
1. Artie leads Maroons out
Game 1, 1980, Lang Park
Perhaps the most iconic moment of all, a strapping Arthur Beetson led the Maroons out onto Lang Park (now Suncorp Stadium) for the first State of Origin game in 1980. The grainy footage of Beetson, wearing a No.11 jersey covered in chalk, and with his right hand bandaged, remains a part of Origin folklore. Beetson had played 17 games for NSW against Queensland in the old state competition before finally leading out his beloved Maroons. Got into a stink with Parramatta clubmate Mick Cronin to kick off the famous "mate versus mate" tagline. Rest In Peace, Artie.
2. Mark Coyne's "miracle"
Game 1, 1994, Sydney Football Stadium
"That's not a try, that's a miracle." One of Queensland's greatest moments came in Game 1 of the 1994 series at the Sydney Football Stadium. With the Maroons trailing 12-10 in the 79th minute, Queensland went 60m to score in the corner through winger Mark Coyne. The ball was passed nine times through the hands of legends such as Allan Langer, Kevin Walters and Mal Meninga before Coyne barged over in the corner, prompting commentator Ray "Rabs" Warren to produce one of the great lines.
3. The night a dynasty began
Game 3, 2006, Docklands, Melbourne
The Maroons were staring at a record fourth straight series loss when trailing 14-10 with six minutes left in the 2006 decider. Little was happening when Blues fullback Brett Hodgson threw a wayward pass from dummy-half that was swooped on by Queensland captain Darren Lockyer, who raced away to score. Clinton Schifcoske kicked the goal to kick-start an eight-year dynasty under coach Mal Meninga. A host of veterans were facing the axe if Queensland had lost.
4. Wally says goodbye
Game 3, 1991, Lang Park
For all the modern-day Queensland stars, Wally Lewis remains the Maroons' greatest ever. "The King" captained Queensland in 30 of his 31 games, racking up 18 wins and eight man-of-the-match awards. He dropped a bombshell minutes before the second game of the 1991 series in Brisbane - Game 3 - when team manager Dick "Tosser" Turner announced Lewis would be retiring. From that moment there was no way Queensland would lose, the Maroons recording a 14-12 win to claim the series. Lewis famously farewelled the Queensland faithful with his sons Mitchell, then 5, and Lincoln, 3, by his side.
5. Alfie's comeback
Game 3, 2001, ANZ Stadium
Queensland legend Allan Langer made a 40,000km round trip from England to lead the Maroons to a famous series victory. Langer was playing for Warrington in the Super League when Queensland coach Wayne Bennett issued an SOS for the mercurial halfback, 14 years after his Origin debut. Under a cloud of secrecy, Langer raced back to Australia and inspired Queensland to a 40-14 win, famously scoring a try while lying on his back. Origin folklore says when Bennett phoned Langer to ask him to play, the No.7 responded: "What took you so long?"
6. Billy Slater's famous try
Game 2, 2004, Suncorp Stadium
A 20-year-old kid named Billy Slater, playing only his second Origin game as a winger, burst on to a Darren Lockyer grubber on the halfway line with the scores locked at 12-all and 17 minutes left in the game. Slater pounced on the ball, then kicked it over the head of NSW fullback Anthony Minichiello, regathered and dived over the line for one of Origin's greatest tries. Slater instantly became a Queensland hero and went on to become arguably the Maroons' greatest fullback, playing 31 games. A star was born that night and Slater went on to become a legend.
7. Gilly checks out of hospital to inspire Fatty's Nevilles
Game 3, 1995, Lang Park
Dubbed "Fatty" Vautin's "Neville Nobodies", the Maroons were given little hope of beating a star-studded Blues outfit in 1995. They wrapped up the series after the second game but it came at a cost when Trevor Gillmeister picked up a serious infection in his leg at the MCG. Gillmeister was on a drip in hospital the night before Game 3, but defied doctors' orders to play in the last match to help Queensland clinch a clean sweep. It remains one of Origin's bravest moments.
8. The King's finest moment
Game 2, 1989, Sydney Football Stadium
The Maroons needed a miracle and Wally Lewis delivered. Queensland was on its knees with Allan Langer, Mal Meninga, Paul Vautin and Michael Hancock off the field while Bob Lindner was playing on with what was later discovered to be a broken leg. "The King" scored the finest try of his career, a 40m effort where he beat a number of Blues defenders to crash over and deliver Queensland victory. Lewis was chaired off the field and inaugural Queensland captain Artie Beetson called it the greatest try he had ever seen from the best ever skipper.
9. Billy Moore chants "Queenslander"
Game 1, 1995, Sydney Football Stadium
He may have been born in NSW, but Maroons forward Billy Moore made the "Queenslander" call famous. It was Paul "Fatty" Vautin who came up with the call back in 1987, but it wasn't until 1995, when Vautin was coach, that Moore was captured on camera walking down the tunnel screaming, "Queenslander!" repeatedly as loud as he could. The footage captured that night has helped him carve out a successful post-footy career. He made the team's rallying call public for fans to embrace.
10. Johnathan Thurston's heroics
Game 2, 2017, ANZ Stadium
Johnathan Thurston was playing with one arm in what would be his last State of Origin game. With a badly damaged shoulder that required season-ending surgery, Thurston piloted a miraculous Maroons comeback in Sydney to keep the series alive. His sideline conversion to deliver Queensland an 18-16 win in the dying minutes was a fitting way for the 37-game Maroons legend to end his State of Origin career. Queensland went on to win the series in the decider.
11. Cooper Cronk's field goal
Game 3, 2012, Suncorp Stadium
Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk etched his name into Origin folklore with a booming 41m field goal in the 2012 decider to deliver the Maroons a series victory. The only thing better than Cronk's play was how he later described it. "Sometimes it takes a small fire in your village to realise that your personal character at that moment in time is made of hay. Every sinew in my body came together in one perfect whole." He finished with 22 Origin appearances for an excellent 72 per cent win rate, making him one of the concept's most successful players.
12. A decade of dominance
Game 3, 2015, Suncorp Stadium
The Maroons' record dynasty came to an end in 2014 when NSW finally snapped Queensland's eight-year winning streak and the Blues were talking about a dynasty of their own going to Suncorp Stadium for the 2015 decider. What followed was Origin's greatest mauling as Queensland racked up a 52-6 victory to win back the shield and deliver coach Mal Meninga a ninth series victory in his 10 years in charge. The game turned out to be Meninga's last at the helm of the Maroons before he became Kangaroos coach. What a way to bow out.
13. Tallis "rag dolls" Hodgson
Game 3, 2002, Stadium Australia
Few men were as confronting in the Origin arena as Gorden "The Raging Bull" Tallis. At 104kg and with fire in his eyes, Tallis grabbed on to the collar of 74kg Blues fullback Brett Hodgson as he attempted to bring the ball back. Tallis flung Hodgson to the ground and dragged him 10m, swinging around in circles before throwing him over the sideline. One of the biggest mismatches in sporting history produced one of the great moments.
14. A shower of cans
Game 2, 1988, Lang Park
Has there ever been a bigger crime in rugby league than sin-binning Queensland legend Wally Lewis on his home ground in Brisbane? Lewis was sent to the bin by NSW referee Mick Stone in 1988, prompting a barrage of beer cans to be thrown on to the field by irate Queensland supporters. The incident caused the can bar at Lang Park to be fenced in and only plastic cups allowed outside it. Lewis was punished for arguing with Stone.
15. Matt Bowen's intercept
Game 1, 2005, Suncorp Stadium
It took a piece of "Mango Magic" for Queensland to win the 2005 series opener at Suncorp Stadium. In what was Queensland's first golden point victory, bench utility Matt Bowen intercepted a Brett Kimmorley pass and raced away with a finger in the sky to clinch victory. The match went into extra-time after Johnathan Thurston, playing his first Origin, kicked a field goal to level scores with two minutes left on the clock. Kimmorley was dropped for the next game and didn't play another Origin until 2007.
16. Tallis gives the finger
Game 3, 2002, Stadium Australia
Dane Carlaw's try to draw the 2002 series and retain the shield for Queensland was overshadowed by the memorable vision of Gorden Tallis giving the finger to the NSW crowd. A brave Blues fan held up a sign mentioning Tallis's mother and it didn't go unnoticed by "The Raging Bull". Carlaw earlier brushed off Blues defenders to race away and level scores on the stroke of full-time, with Lote Tuqiri's sideline conversion sailing wide to leave the series drawn. It was enough for the Queenslanders to celebrate.
17. Wally v MG
Game 2, 1991, Sydney Football Stadium
It is one of Origin's most iconic images - Wally Lewis standing face to face with towering Blues forward Mark Geyer. Lewis and Geyer were on the verge of sparking an all-in brawl as referee David Manson shouted at them to calm down. Geyer had been given the mission of rattling Queensland with illegal tactics and Lewis had enough after teammate Steve Walters was battered on the stroke of halftime. Queensland lost the game but won the decider, which Geyer missed after copping an eight-week ban for his illegal shot on Maroons fullback Paul Hauff. Karma.
18. Gordie sent off
Game 1, 2000, Stadium Australia
"The Raging Bull" saw red plenty of times in the Origin arena but the night he was sent off by referee Bill "Hollywood" Harrigan was one of his most memorable. Tallis labelled Harrigan a cheat and said he would be replaced by rival referee Steve Clark for the next game. The spray prompted Harrigan to give Tallis his marching orders, much to the delight of the NSW crowd.
19. Queensland's greatest servant is born
Game 3, 2003, Suncorp Stadium
A dead rubber and series loss hardly seems like a memorable moment for the Maroons, but this was the night Queensland's greatest servant debuted. Cameron Smith was plucked from relative obscurity to play hooker after only 18 NRL appearances. The Maroons had experimented with P.J. Marsh and Michael Crocker in the first two games, losing both, before taking a punt on Smith. They won Game 3 36-6, Smith claimed players' player and went on to play a record 42 Origins across 15 series.
20. JT wheeled out
Game 3, 2011, Suncorp Stadium
Johnathan Thurston played an incredible 36 consecutive Origin games, but he didn't get through every one unscathed. Thurston was famously pushed out on to Suncorp Stadium in a wheelchair after Queensland's 2011 series win. He was the victim of "friendly fire" during the game when teammate Ash Harrison cannoned into his leg while making a tackle. The sight of Thurston, sucking on a green whistle painkiller, being wheeled out sent the Maroons faithful into raptures.
Originally published as 40 greatest State of Origin moments of all-time