Queenslander!! They’ve done it again! QLD were far too good for a disappointing NSW in the decider, the only thing epic about it was the Maroons performance. They dominated from start to finish running out convincing 22-6 winners. In the end it was a margin that flattered a flat Blues side. The night was not only the series decider it was also a celebration of greatness as QLD farewelled their champion and living legend Jonathan Thurston. He no doubt inspired the side without stepping onto the field and to see Thurston lift the Origin shield with fellow great Cameron Smith was a touching moment, a true Origin moment.
Origin Moments – Five Talking Points
Under extreme adversity with multiple stars injured, staring a series defeat in the face at halftime in Origin II only to rise off the canvas to force the decider which they then dominated, the magnificent Maroons have shown the Blues what Origin is all about. They displayed true champion qualities, never gave up, found something when all looked lost and when the opportunity arose they took hold of it and didn’t let go. NSW were taught, yet again, a very harsh lesson in Origin – take your opportunities. They blew Origin II and it came back to bite them. QLD, through its leaders inspiring all around them, placed NSW under extreme pressure and the Blues buckled. QLD have too many champions who know how to win.
How good is Cameron Smith? With Jonathan Thurston absent, someone had to stand up and you just knew it was going to be one Cam Smith. He was a deserving man of the match. Smith tore the Blues to shreds in that first half as he set the tone early running purposefully from dummy half and often, constantly opening up the Blues. Smith controlled the tempo of the game brilliantly, his timing was immaculate and he is a true leader. Smith stood up to be counted when his team and state needed him too. His opening salvos rocked the shell-shocked Blues who never recovered. Add in his goal kicking and tenacious defence and it was a complete performance from the skipper. The only blemish was bombing a certain try in the shadows of halftime that kept NSW in the contest, but kudos to Cam he was thinking about the viewers at home, he’s an entertainer as well!!
It was hard to believe that was Cameron Munster’s Origin debut. He was absolutely tremendous playing like a ten year veteran. Munster looked right at home in this elite company. The Melbourne Storm spine’s combination was a key component to the win and Munster was in the thick of it. The comfort of having his Storm team mates surrounding him was a security blanket Munster loved but didn’t need. He is all class and a natural footballer. Munster rises to every challenge with calmness, he has nerves of steel. Munster played exactly the way he plays for the Storm, great running, threw some beautiful passes, he’s tough copping some heavy hits yet bounced off and offloaded, kicked well and set up tries. Munster is a star, man of the match was always going to a Cameron it was just a matter of which one. Munster must have been close to being awarded the honour.
Dane Gagai became the first winger to win the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series from the wing! What an achievement and what a deserving winner. Gagai was superb and once again was one of the best players on the park in Origin III. He broke tackles for fun, ran for an amazing amount of metres and was just dangerous every single time he touched the ball. Gagai and Will Chambers on the Maroons right side terrorised the Blues left side defence. Valentine Holmes might have scored the hat trick that will star on the highlights reel but Gagai was sensational over the whole series. He probably should have been awarded the man of the match in Origin II but to take home the Wally Lewis Medal will more than compensate, plus he gets to bathe in the glory of being in the Origin winning side again. Dane Gagai is one of those players who rise for Origin and that is a very special quality to be able to lift in this elite company. The greatest compliment I can hand him is he is an Origin player.
NSW Give Laurie The Blues
When NSW review this series the main sore point will be one of opportunity lost. The Blues blew Origin II, they had one chance to put the Maroons away, Jarryd Hayne didn’t pass to Brett Morris and instead of series over QLD stayed in the fight and eventually triumphed. For three halves the Blues attack was brilliant, moving the ball with speed and fluency ripping through the ruck. From halftime in Origin II the Blues attack disappeared, NSW scored one try in three halves of football and that was from a kick. QLD lifted, NSW wilted. The knives will come out for the usual suspect Mitchell Pearce but the forwards must take a large portion of the blame. The Maroons led tenaciously by Josh McGuire and Matt Gillett, suffocated the Blues. Andrew Fifita turned from Superman to Clark Kent in a single bound. QLD not only changed the side they picked, they changed the way they played and NSW didn’t match the moves. Laurie Daley was outfoxed and outcoached by Kevvie Walters. Check mate, series gone, possibly Daley with it.
The Last Word
QLD are amazing. They won this series without the following names featuring in Origin III – Matt Scott, Greg Inglis, Jonathan Thurston, Darius Boyd, Anthony Milford, Corey Oates, Daly Cherry-Evans wasn’t even considered! All the talk pre-series had been: has the Maroon legends time come to an end? Well I’m here to tell ya the era ain’t over!! The Maroons dynasty is far from finished! Forced to regenerate after losing Origin I the Maroons shed great servants and handed debuts to plenty but they were ready. QLD made some brave calls, that caused some heated naval gazing north of the border but it was justified in the series victory. The correct calls were made.
It’s now NSW time to mull over their next move after sucking on the sour taste of yet another loss. No Inglis, no Scott, no Thurston, no series victory! This will hurt like Hell and if you think the QLD internal scrap was fiery, you haven’t seen anything yet. No one eats their own like the Blues, the post-series review will be savage and everyone from the media to ex-players will hunt down the perpetrators and want heads to roll.
For me, it’s simple. QLD have all-time greats in key positions and until they move on the Blues will continue to suffer. The Blues played well but just couldn’t quite conquer their demons. It was a great series and the Maroons were too good. QLD fans enjoy your sweetest of sweet victories, NSW fans keep the faith you’ll get ‘em next year… I’ve been saying that for past dozen years!