Wednesday, 15 July 2009

While many Southlanders felt the earth move on Wednesday evening, the real rumble happened in Brisbane about two and a half hours later.

With nothing to play for but pride in the dead State of Origin 3, Queensland and New South Wales ripped into each other with the sort of mongrel and intensity old warhorses, Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer, would’ve been proud to call their own

Some critics had been suggesting State of Origin’s lost its bite since the halcyon days of the 1980s. Anyone who watched on Wednesday would beg to differ. State of Origin is the ultimate in the 13-man code where one-sided international fixtures are rightly regarded as second-class citizens.

I was in Australia following the All Blacks when the inaugural State of Origin was played at Lang Park on July 8, 1980.

The Queensland Cane Toads, captained by the legendary Arthur Beetson, squashed the New South Wales Cockroaches 20-10, with a young Mal Meninga slotting seven goals for a personal haul of 14 points. Another brilliant youngster, Lewis, also starred in his first of many magical moments for the Maroons, finally calling it a day in 1991 (Meninga went three better lasting until 1994!).

Initially I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. The ‘80s convinced me otherwise. Even now, on the eve of the most exciting Tri-Nations series in years, few rugby union confrontations, bar a full-blooded battle with the ‘Boks, hold a candle to State of Origin physicality.

Shame there’s not a place for Island of Origin on our already-overcrowded rugby union calendar.

A final thought. Am I being a little picky or have the three wise men made yet another unwise decision by deciding not to include another specialist openside flanker on the bench to cover Richie McCaw?

We are continually being told the modern game of rugby is won and lost at the breakdown. Aussie Bob Deans has seen fit to include both Phil Waugh and David Pocock to back up George Smith, while we’re praying McCaw is fit enough to last 80 minutes! His back up Rodney So’oialo is also coming off a long layoff.

McCaw is lion heart but will he, first game back, get the lion’s share of the loose ball? Conceivably he could end up competing against three men, in which case the score could be Aussie Bob 1, Kiwi Ted nil


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