Andrew Johns celebrates in 2005 - the last time NSW won a State of Origin Series. Credit: Design: Michael Appleford. Images: NRL Photos. Copyright: Design: Michael Appleford. Images: NRL Photos.
The year was 2005. George W. Bush was starting his second term as president of the United States of America, Lance Armstrong retired after winning a record seventh Tour de France title and the final chapter of the Star Wars phenomenon was released with Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.
In the sporting world, England did the unthinkable and won back the Ashes in one of the most famous cricket battles of all time, a young Rafael Nadal won the first of his Grand Slam titles, Andrew Bogut was taken at No.1 in the NBA Draft, Makybe Diva won a record third consecutive Melbourne Cup and an upstart named Benji Marshall flick passed his way into rugby league folklore as the Wests Tigers won their first ever premiership.
Liverpool FC won the European Champions League final -beating AC Milan on penalties after trailing 3-0 at halftime, Asafa Powell set a new world record of 9.77 seconds in the 100m sprint, Tiger Woods became only the second man to win all four majors more than once and New Zealand shocked a star-studded Australian side to win the Tri-Nations final 24-0.
It was a simpler time. Twitter did not exist, neither did the iPhone. Facebook was only rolled out into Australia in December of 2005. The next generation of video game consoles were just being released with the Xbox 360 hitting the North American market and The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak was extended to 13 when he defeated ‘The Legend Killer’ Randy Orton.
It was also the last time NSW won a State of Origin series thanks to a fairy-tale comeback from halfback Andrew Johns.
The 2005 series opener was a dramatic encounter typical of Origin. The Blues managed to fight back from a 19-0 deficit to take the lead before a debuting Johnathan Thurston field goal forced the game into golden point. Matt Bowen would then latch on to a pass from NSW halfback Brett Kimmorley to seal a famous victory for the Maroons in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Game II will be forever remembered for Andrew Johns' dominance, leading his side to a 32-22 win after coming back from an injury. By the time the third game rolled around, NSW were full of confidence and the game and series was as good as over when they raced to a 32-0 lead.
When the 2005 Origin series was written into the history books, no-one could have ever imagined that Queensland would go on to win the next seven straight series, in fact, according to some, Origin was becoming irrelevant. NSW had just won their third consecutive series and a Queensland win looked far away.
If only we knew.
The Maroons have gone on to dominate Origin. Inglis, Cronk and Thurston have become household names and Origin is more popular than ever. Record-breaking crowds continue to flock to rugby league's showcase series, television ratings continue to set records and social media has exploded - setting new benchmarks. In short, the Origin bandwagon continues to shatter all before it.
But it is somewhat humbling to think a picture of a winning NSW captain has never been shared on Twitter or via iPhone. Instagram? Forget it. These things simply didn’t exist last time the Blues lifted the shield. That is the weight of history that Queensland has been able to create.
The world has changed dramatically – but Queensland’s dominance has remained.
Will it ever end?
Notable players to debut in 2005: Nate Myles for the Bulldogs, Steve Matai for Manly, Greg Inglis for Melbourne, Ben Hannant for the Roosters, Simon Mannering for the Warriors.