Kerry Boustead scored Queensland's first-ever try in a State of Origin match in 1980.

The try that changed everything

Four weeks earlier he had helped pile more misery onto Queensland's horrendous interstate record that had stretched to 15 consecutive defeats but when Kerry Boustead, the Innisfail product who had represented both City and New South Wales, flashed across for the Maroons' first Origin try in 1980, an entire state rejoiced.

It wasn't so much for any scintillating passage of play that led up to Boustead's – at the time – three-pointer nor for the time that it came in the game but the symbolic nature that a Queensland product – one of their own – had got one back over the Blues.

It sent the capacity crowd of 33,210 at Lang Park into hysterics and although the Maroons would go on to record an historic 20-10 victory, for Boustead, the enormity of what that night meant didn't hit him until many years later.

On May 27 Boustead, Rod Morris and John Lang had conspired against their own state in a 17-7 win to New South Wales in front of just 1,368 people at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney but when they left their Winfield Cup clubs for a week to play for Queensland, Origin was born.

"The first time something like that happens, you don't know it's going to be great," Boustead told NRL.com.

"None of us ever thought that it would turn into what it's turned into. State of Origin is bigger than Test footy these days; it's what everyone wants to play.

"The first year and the second year, it wasn't such a big deal for me but the third year when they made it a series and I played three games that year and the next three years, that felt like a real series and really representing your state.

"The first two, we'd already beaten Queensland and then you come back and play for them; I was confused!"

 

Although Boustead saw the introduction of Origin as a way to fill the Queensland Rugby League coffers "because no one was turning up for the other games," the decision to bring the Queensland team into camp a week before the first Origin game 35 years ago became the foundation on which the Maroons' early dominance was built.

"We played as a team whereas NSW, which they did for five or six years later, would pick their team on the Sunday night after the last [premiership] game and play on the Wednesday.

"All the Queenslanders would take that week off and meet up on the Wednesday before. NSW weren't taking Queensland seriously and that's why we won the first five series.

"We got a feeling late in the week that it was going to be a big crowd. When we used to go walking through the city the people would come out and 'Cracker' McDonald (Queensland manager John McDonald) would take us for a walk through the city and people would come out and say, 'You've got to win it guys, this is your chance. You've got to win it, you've got to give it to them this time.'

"Everyone got a bit excited about it and you could feel it was building and then when we got there on the day and the crowd was so big, all of our guys went, 'Wow, it might have been worth it this week that we spent getting to know each other a bit better.'"

The other dramatic change since that initial Origin encounter 35 years ago is the celebrations that occur after each and every try. Where the likes of South Sydney coach Michael Maguire have instituted fines for the last players to reach a try-scorer, Boustead's only congratulations came from five-eighth Alan Smith.

"And I would have said, 'What are you doing here?'" Boustead said.

"There was genuine excitement but now, someone drops the ball and they get patted on the arse 13 times. I'm like, 'What are you doing? Don't encourage him!'"