You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

What a ripper. State of Origin I was an absolute classic and everyone was once again blown away with its speed, ferocity and intensity. It had just about everything. Big hits, drama, fights, sin-bins, refereeing drama and, of course, another Queensland win.

The anticipation for Sydney is already building to fever pitch. I am not going to suggest referees Ben Cummins and Matt Cecchin cost NSW a win in Melbourne but all the close calls certainly went Queensland's way. The Maroons got the 'rub of the green'.

But I am not about the dedicate this column to refereeing bashing – there are too many other incidents and performances to discuss and digest. Firstly, I want to applaud NSW.

Yes, I know Queensland won and they go one-nil ahead in the series and must now be odds-on to claim a seventh successive series title.

But as a former NSW player, I thought the Blues were fantastic in defeat. NSW had to make a great start to the match to boost their confidence levels and belief and they certainly did that.

For the opening 20 minutes they ran Queensland ragged.

The Blues made plenty of easy metres out of dummy half and were unlucky to have not gone two tries ahead when Farah was held-up over the line during that period.

Queensland would have been expecting an early ambush from NSW but it is still difficult to stop. As Cameron Smith said in the post-game press conference: "We were slow out of the blocks."

I thought the sin-binning of centre Michael Jennings changed the entire game. I am not saying he shouldn't have been banished - I am just saying that was the turning point.

From that moment in the 22nd minute, Queensland seemed to regain all the momentum. The Maroons scored while Jennings was off to lead 6-4 and when on a roll scored again just before the break to lead 12-4 at half-time.

NSW came back gallantly but in the end Queensland held on.

Overall, it was a cracking match. It was tough, physical and entertaining.

When you take a game to Melbourne you want the 34 players to produce something special and they certainly did.

There were some question marks over several Blues going into the match but those players quickly and emphatically answered their critics.

One was Robbie Farah.

Farah was labeled a player “not suited to Origin” but I thought he was sensational on Wednesday night. Another was Jarryd Hayne. I couldn't believe some people were questioning Hayne's inclusion. He's proved he's an Origin player. Again and again.

Jennings was another. Aside from his 10-minute absence, Jennings scored a try and was a constant danger to the Maroons.

On debut, James Tamou was powerful early while Greg Bird showed why he should be an automatic selection, regardless of his club form; he’s made for Origin.

Todd Carney was quiet for NSW - I think he struggled with the occasion and the pace of the game but deserves another chance. Besides, there aren't too many options out there.

I thought Carney was a little overawed, he made mistakes he doesn’t at club level and didn’t engage the defence when he had the football, which allowed the Queensland defence to number up more easily on his outside players. We’ll need more if we’re to win Game Two, but Origin is a learning experience.

I wouldn't make too many changes to the NSW side. The only alteration would involve Manly's Anthony Watmough.

Watmough should be there for Origin II for Jamie Buhrer. In fact I would start Watmough and have Penrith's Luke Lewis coming off the bench. Hindsight isn’t afforded to those that pick football teams, but unless there was an injury to Farah, it was hard to see how Jamie Buhrer was going to get much game time, and that’s how it worked, with only eight minutes. Now throw into the mix Tony Williams who hadn’t played for nine weeks and the balance was a bit out of kilter.

While I have dedicated a large chunk of this column to NSW, let me stress yet again how impressive Queensland was.

I genuinely thought NSW was the better side on the night but the best side doesn't always win Origin. The Maroons showed their well-known grit and at fulltime, despite being shown up at times, emerged as winners.

Origin is different beast to NRL.

Generally in NRL the best side on the day wins. In Origin, it's all about hanging in and grinding away. Queensland are the masters.

It's now off to Sydney and then, here's hoping for NSW's sake, to Brisbane for a decider. I am sure both games will be sold out and the drama will continue. Only Origin invokes the passionate feedback we hear from fans. Everyone has a theory. That is why we love it.

The main fear I have though for NSW is that I think Queensland will get better for Sydney.

After six consecutive series wins, lucky seven may well be unlucky for NSW.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners