Don’t get me wrong, there’s no such thing as a bad State of Origin game. Like holidays, chocolate, and flirting, I’ll take my Origin matches any way they come. Hell, I’ve flirted with Martina Navratilova, and I don’t play on her side of the net.
But what would the ultimate Origin game look like? What kind of aggression, passion, talent, rebellion, agony, redemption and triumph would we like to see on Wednesday? Well for a start, I want to see 26 players run on to the field with their veins popping with passion and their eyes lit up with hatred, all leading up to that much loved animalistic Origin event, the boil-over.
It only takes two maroon and two blue swinging arms to start an epic brawl - think Beetson v Cronin, Hopoate v Moore, Elias v Walters, Bella v Harragon, Bella v Clyde, Bella v just about anyone. Each player has 12 mates handy - and there’s no way they’ll stand by and watch.
The trouble is, since Artie Beetson threw the first Origin punch at his Parramatta teammate Michael Cronin in 1980, we are supposed to have become more enlightened. Fans shouldn’t jump to our feet and yell encouragement when things turn violent, and our television commentators can no longer say as they did in 1993 when Bella furiously took on The Chief, “Go boys! Nothing wrong with that, two big men having a go, blowing off steam”.
I’m not a ghoul, and I’m all for teaching the youngsters the value of sportsmanship and peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but can’t we do that the other 362 days of the year? Are three Origin days with just a little bit of argy-bargy too much to ask for? There’s no harm done; even Beetson and Cronin sat peacefully next to each other on the plane home from their Origin stink.
The ultimate Origin game would also have a history-making tackle, like the ragdoll tackle Gorden "Raging Bull" Tallis inflicted on Brett "Captain Courageous" Hodgson. Tallis had 14 centimetres and 31 kilograms on Hodgson, when he grabbed the little guy’s detestable blue jersey and swung him around and around like a lasso, spinning him 16 metres straight out of play. Peter Sterling called it "dead-set rodeo stuff", and claimed we will not see another tackle like it. Eight years later we haven’t, but three big Wednesdays are just around the corner…
"That's not a trryyyyyy, that's a mirrrracle!!!!!" 'Rabbits' Warren said it all when Queensland scored in the 79th minute in 1994. A try is a try, and an Origin try is special no matter what. But this one was the ultimate Origin try. The cane toads were cornered 20 metres or so from their own line when they flew into a precise yet flamboyant attack. The ball passed through nine sets of hands over 80 metres before Mark Coyne raced past Elias, Stuart and fleet-footed Fittler to score. Like all fans I’ll take an ugly try, a lucky try, even a not-really-a-try try, but for my ultimate Origin game, I'd like a "mirrrracle" try.
So, it's 2011, and with the series locked at one win each, and the third game in the pouring rain at mighty Suncorp Stadium, I want to see the teams deadlocked in extra time, before the mighty Maroons intercept the ball on their own try line and pass it through every hand for 100 metres before retiring legend Darren Lockyer scores between the posts! Golden point! The crowd goes wild!
What’s your Origin dream?