Kevin Walters, NRL.com
The record book will say seven series in a row, but what we need to remember is that NSW are closing the gap. It was a fabulous series, I think it is the best we have ever seen in the game’s history, it had everything. Even off the field with Sticky and Big Mal going at each other, the media, the referees, the whole series had everything. The players didn’t let anyone down; it was fantastic across the board.
It was billed as the biggest game in Origin history and it surpassed the hype. What more could you ask for?
I was fortunate enough to attend last night’s decider at Suncorp. The crowd were an enormous support for the Queensland team. There was one stage there and I’m not sure that it was picked up by the cameras, Johnathan Thurston was asking the crowd for more noise in a line-dropout situation asking them to lift, and they responded with vigour. It lifted the whole team. I can’t emphasise enough what a buzz was in that crowd and it had to lift the Maroons players, it was incredible. If that game was played in Sydney, I think the Blues win. Well, maybe?
The game had everything for long periods. That is the thing with these modern day players. Origin when I played was tough and fierce, but it did slow down at stages of the contest. In the modern Origin, there is no slowing down, they are at full throttle from kick-off to final whistle, it is just sheer quality for 80 minutes.
The average fan might not see that, but those who have been in and around the game for a long time can see the intensity, ferocity, the impacts and the collisions that happen, it’s unbelievable. I marvel at the pace of the modern game.
NSW have certainly made some massive progress, the game could have gone either way and it was just the Cooper Cronk field goal that was the difference at the end. The Maroons probably deserved to win, but NSW were so good, they pushed them all the way.
Queensland had all the possession and I thought there was a question mark on the two penalty goals that they decided to take. I thought they might have chanced their arm and put the pressure on the Blues and try to get six points. Was this a sign of respect for the NSW defence? As it turned out, the two penalties kept them in the game.
I’ve never kicked a field goal in my life; you have to admire the calmness and the clarity to strike the ball from 40 metres out and nail it. Everybody was probably thinking field goal, but to kick it under that situation, under that pressure, was amazing. It never looked like missing.
That shot alone certainly stamped Cooper Cronk as a real class player.
There will be some pretty sore bodies today and for a while I reckon. The difficult thing for the players now is to go back to club football and to try to come back down after such an intense series. Origin is very exhausting and the mental pressure on them to perform and to play at that level is extreme. It is a huge expectation and it will take weeks to get over.
The unpleasant thing for NSW players and fans alike to ponder is that they have two games in Queensland next year. It will be a tough ask. I guess we’ll worry about that next year.
Origin just gets bigger and better every year. I salute everyone involved in the 2012 series from players, coaches, referees, sponsors and the fans of our game. What an amazing show you produced. Finally, I am a very happy and proud Queenslander this morning as I made my way back to Melbourne.
Queensland Player Rankings
Greg Inglis 9 - He was outstanding, it was like he took it upon himself when NSW dished it up to Billy Slater in game two at fullback, he said I’m here, I’m going to be running at you, come and get me. They kept coming and he kept swatting them off.
Darius Boyd 8 – Scored another try and was very solid in everything he did. Couldn’t do much more with the try Morris scored, that was just a freakish play and also he saved a try scoring situation when he had the awareness to turn and chase the cross-field kick for Jarryd Hayne. It was a massive play.
Dane Nielsen 8 – I thought he was very good in defence, we all knew he would be good there, but did some nice things in attack as well.
Justin Hodges 8 – Good try, true professional.
Brent Tate 8 – Very competitive, tough and uncompromising performance.
Johnathan Thurston 8 – He got the man of the match and he certainly stood up for Queensland. He can attack from anywhere on the field and was always asking questions of the defence, that break he made was all class and to finish it off with the try is what makes him so good.
Cooper Cronk 8 – His best performance at that level and the field goal took great composure.
Matt Scott 8 – He really ploughed through the middle, it is probably the first time the Maroons forwards have got on top and he was a big part of that.
Cam Smith 8 – His best game of the series and he just keeps going.
Petero Civoniceva 8 – I don't know how he does it, he is fantastic.
Nate Myles 9 – He was my best on ground, he was outstanding through the middle. Mal Meninga reckons he is born for Origin and I agree with him. Absolute competitor.
Sam Thaiday 8 – Another of Queensland’s go-to men, he inspires everyone around him.
Corey Parker 9 – Some great offloads, really showed his class at this level.
Matt Gillett 7 – Limited time, but he did his job.
Ben Te’o 7 – Not much game time, but did what he had to do 7 with a lot of purpose.
Ben Hannant 8 – He did some good things when he was on there, made some great runs.
David Shillington 8 – He added some ferocity and some real aggression which is what you want from your bench players.