State of Origin: The top five debuts

It takes a special talent to be able to make a mark the very first time you set foot on the Origin stage. Think pre-game nerves and multiply by a hundred. Think expectation and anticipation and multiply by a hundred. Think these guys handled the pressure OK? You bet they did.

1. Mate v mate. Artie Beetson, Game 1, 1980
At the ripe old age of 35 and plucked from reserve grade, Artie Beetson set the standard by which all Origin debuts would be measured.

With a starry-eyed bunch of kids fresh out of the BRL and a couple of old hardheads by his side, Artie launched himself into a Blues he was convinced were arrogant and was equally convinced could be rolled.

The Origin catchcry of 'mate vs mate' was born when he landed a punch on Eels team-mate Mick Cronin and no one in a blue jersey was safe as Beetson set about righting the wrongs of seven decades of interstate floggings. He would never play for the Maroons again but 80 minutes was all this future Immortal needed to etch his place in Origin folklore.

Greg Inglis scores a try on Origin debut
Greg Inglis scores a try on Origin debut

2. Made for Origin. Greg Inglis, Game 1, 2006
Nothing like two tries on debut to announce yourself! Young giant Greg Inglis was 19 years of age and had just 22 NRL games under his belt when Mal Meninga threw him his first maroon jersey and his impact was immediate.

Inglis bagged a double as Queensland fought back from a 14-0 deficit to take the game to the wire at Telstra Stadium. The Blues prevailed through a Brett Finch field goal in the dying minutes but it was clear that Inglis possessed the qualities to make an indelible mark on Origin.

3. They picked who? Adam Mogg, Game 2, 2006.
With Queensland staring down the barrel of a fourth successive series defeat, it appeared desperation had set in when they plucked 28-year-old Adam Mogg from the national capital to make his debut. The NSW media had a field day as the predictable Adam Who? headlines were trotted out.

Had Big Mal lost his marbles? This bloke was running around on the wing for Canberra and doing not much but like so many Maroons before and since, he grew 10 feet in that jersey and his heart beat with pride as he went out and scored two tries in a 30-6 win. Only played one more Origin but he'd done enough in one night to ensure no one would ever ask Adam Who again.

4. New breed of Maroon. Cameron Munster. Game 3, 2017.
It seems an eternity since Cameron Munster made the fateful decision to break curfew during an Emerging Maroons camp in Brisbane. The fallout from that poor choice in February, 2016 was massive for the classy Storm playmaker, with new Maroons coach Kevin Walters taking a strong stand and banning Munster and seven others from Origin for a year.

When Munster finally got his chance in the 2017 decider he had gained a greater understanding of what a privilege it is to wear the Queensland jersey – and he wasn't about to let anyone down again. Munster's debut was top drawer, laying on tries and laying waste to Blues defenders with his dazzling footwork as Queensland powered to a 22-6 win.

5. The solo man. Michael O'Connor. Game 1, 1985.
As a young bloke, Michael O'Connor had toured alongside Wally Lewis in the Australian Schoolboys Rugby team. When 'Snoz' and 'The King' renewed acquaintances eight years in Origin, it was O'Connor who took bragging rights with an 18-point haul on debut courtesy of two tries and five goals.

So dominant was 24-year-old O'Connor that you'll find no one else on the Blues score sheet. Yep, he did the lot, beating Queensland 18-2. It was the beginning of a prolific 19-game Origin career which would yield 129 points, placing O'Connor third all time behind Thurston (220) and Meninga (161).

 

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