State of Origin: 10 Great Moments
We take a look back at 10 memorable moments to see why State of Origin is sport's greatest rivalry.
With the likes of Shaun Timmins, Craig Gower, Matt Orford, Brett Kimmorley and Trent Barrett all injured, NSW coach Phil Gould called on a then 32-year-old Brad Fittler to come out of representative retirement in Game Two 2004. The Blues went down 22-18 at Suncorp Stadium, but having lost his previous Origin swansong in 2001, Fittler returned for a fitting triumph in Game Three, capping a 31-game career for NSW with a charge down try as the Blues swept to a 36-14 victory.
Slater 'kick and chase' try
In Game Two 2004, Billy Slater, two days from his 21st birthday, solidified his place in the Queensland Origin team to this very day. A sweet grubber from Darren Lockyer through to Slater literally kicked off proceedings, with the then winger scooping it up and racing away. With a one-on-one showdown with NSW's Anthony Minichiello looming, Slater seamlessly raced towards the outside of the fullback before chipping back in the inside to get around his opposition to score one of the more memorable tries ever scored in the Origin arena.
2000 was a spectacular year for the Blues. Up 2-0 heading into Origin III the Blues had everything on their side as they raced away to a crushing 56-16 win, though insult was added to injury when larrikin back-rower Bryan Fletcher crossed for a try of his own. Just as they probably had been planning it all week, Fletcher took a bite at the ball as if it was a grenade and threw it between a host of his own players. Ducking to avoid the 'explosion' Fletcher set the precedent for his teammates to jump out of the way at all different angles to avoid the 'blast'. Queenslanders were not impressed.
Tallis 'rag doll'
You could be forgiven for thinking that Gorden Tallis was a hammer thrower in a previous life following the 2002 series decider. Brett Hodgson won't forget the moment when he tried to get outside the Raging Bull. The Queensland second-rower grabbed the diminutive Hodgson's collar and lassoed him for more than 10 metres to drag him over the sideline.
An Australian record crowd of 87,161 attends first Origin match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Coyne's Miracle Try
Who better than Ray Warren, the voice of rugby league, to sum up Origin's most replayed moment? "That's not a try, that's a miracle!" bellowed Rabs as Mark Coyne slid through two defenders to score one of the greatest tries in the game's history. In Game One 1994, down 12-4 with five minutes remaining, Queensland first drew within striking distance through a try from winger Willie Carne, before pulling out one last desperate play that went through eight pairs of hands, worked its way from one sideline to the other and back again before culminating in Coyne's iconic touchdown with seconds left on the clock to give the Maroons an astounding 16-12 win.
O'Connor wins the game
When Mark McGaw touched down in the right-hand corner to level the scores on a miserable night at the SFS in Game Two of 1991, NSW centre Michael O'Connor stepped up to take the shot at goal despite having relinquished the kicking duties for club side Manly, and Illawarra's goal-kicking winger Rod Wishart playing on the flank. Even though he'd only kicked two goals all year, O'Connor made no mistake in slotting the conversion as cool as you like in driving rain to secure one of the Blues' most famous wins.
Lewis scores famous try
Wally Lewis's try in Origin II in 1989 not only captures just how great The King was but what the Origin spirit does for a team in a time of need. By the end of the game the Maroons had only 12 men left on the field after the likes of Vautin, Meninga, Hancock, Lindner and Langer left the field of play. Lewis, after being passed the scraps, ran diagonally over 30 metres towards the corner, brushing off attention from NSW fullback Garry Jack, to score a famous try that left him and thousands of others fist-pumping in victory.
Turvey kisses the SCG
After Queensland won the first five State of Origin shields, NSW finally won their first series by taking out Game Two in 1985 at the SCG. The Blues raced to a 12-0 lead before the Maroons hit back to take the ascendancy 14-12. Michael O'Conner kicked a penalty goal and a field goal to put NSW ahead 15-14 before Brett Kenny scored late to seal the win.
Lewis plants a kiss on Alfie
In just his second match on rugby league's biggest stage, Allan Langer, all 68 kilograms of him, got more than he bargained for as Queensland broke through for their first win in the Origin arena in 23 months in Game Two 1987. Covered in mud and having out slogged NSW 12-6 at the SCG, Maroons legend Wally Lewis grabbed his young halfback and planted an extra muddy five-second kiss on his forehead to cap the win. Langer and Lewis went on to form one of the most successful halves pairings of Origin history, winning 9 of 14 matches in which they wore the maroon 6 and 7 jerseys.
This article first appeared on NRL.com