Thurston's 2008 'show' stealer
It was the day New South Wales could well have stopped Queensland’s seven-year winning streak almost before it had begun, and the game that typified why this Maroons side is so hard to beat.
Game Three of the 2008 series was as tough as they come: multiple fights, players left dazed in the tackle and a result that could have gone either way but for one moment of brilliance by Johnathan Thurston.
With 17 minutes remaining and scores locked at 10-all, Thurston called for the ball on the short side at pace, dummied to his outside men and raced through a gap before turning it inside for Billy Slater to race away and secure a dramatic 16-10 series-clinching win.
“There are two things I remember from that game,” recounted prop Steve Price, who played a key role in that 2008 series, this week.
“One was that it was a real tough, physical battle – one of the toughest games I’ve ever played in. The other was Johnathan Thurston’s show-and-go.
“It was just one of those moments that the great players are able to produce when the game is on the line.
“It’s one thing to have the skill but you also need a level head to take the opportunity when it comes and that’s what Johnno showed that night.”
NSW will be desperately hoping history doesn’t repeat itself on Wednesday night but there are similarities between this highly anticipated contest and that classic Origin encounter of five years ago which remains the last time NSW hosted a decider at ANZ Stadium.
Mitchell Pearce was there. Greg Bird was supposed to there too but, ironically, was ruled out of Game Three with injury – just like skipper Paul Gallen was last Friday. And plenty of the Maroons side that celebrated that night will be there again this time around – Slater, Thurston, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Brent Tate, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday.
It was also a series that saw NSW win the series opener before Queensland levelled proceedings back home at Suncorp.
“I actually missed the first game with a hamstring injury and I remember the headline in the Courier Mail when me and ‘Locky’ (Darren Lockyer) were coming back for Game Two – ‘The Cavalry is Coming’.
“Locky ended up missing the whole series but that was a lot of pressure to have when they are expecting you to be the saviour.”
Price said he expected this year’s decider to again come down to one moment of brilliance, with whoever showed the greater determination likely to succeed.
“That’s what we’ve seen all series,” he said.
“In Game One we saw Michael Jennings score that try with three guys hanging off him all because of determination. In Game Two it was Sam Thaiday and Greg Inglis showing the greatest determination.
“That’s what you need in these games and that’s what is going to separate the two teams.”