State of Origin: The top 5 Sydney moments
Sydney has been a happy hunting ground for hometown heroes NSW . . . but the never-say-die Maroons have pulled a few miracles out of the fire on enemy territory as well. Never a dull moment in the Harbour City.
5. The King and the Prince, Game 3, 1987
Two of the Maroons' finest ever, walking off the SCG covered in mud and covered in glory. Both men born for this arena. Wally Lewis and Allan Langer had a unique bond right from the time a youthful Alfie came into the Queensland side in game one of 1987. After losing that game the Lewis-led Maroons headed to Sydney hellbent on squaring the series. They did just that in a muddy classic and Lewis and Langer had their first win together. They would line up alongside one another 10 more times after that in the Origin arena for eight wins, creating a legacy that would be carried on first by Lockyer and Thurston and then by Cronk and Thurston.
4. Girdler's massive haul. Game 3, 2000.
Such has been the tightness of Origin over the years that 49 of the 112 games have totalled less than 30 points. So imagine what a freakish performance it took from Blues centre Ryan Girdler to score 32 points all on his own in the final game of the 2000 series. This was the emphatic exclamation point on a dominant clean sweep by a classy Blues outfit captained by Brad Fittler. Having wrapped up the series in game two, the Blues threw caution to the wind in Sydney and everything they touched turned to gold. Girdler helped himself to three of the team's nine tries and booted a lazy 10 goals to set an individual mark which will most likely never be surpassed.
3. Gordie 'ragdolls' Hodgson. Game 3, 2002.
They didn't call him the Raging Bull for nothing! Gorden Tallis played each of his 17 Origins as though it was his last and he seemed to revel in playing in enemy territory. There was his send off in 2000 for calling Bill Harrigan a cheat and his run-in with the Blues fans who stupidly got his blood boiling with a sign that insulted his mother. In 2002, with the series on the line at Stadium Australia, Gordie took it upon himself to inspire his team-mates with a tackle which ranks alongside Scott Sattler's 2003 grand final chase on Todd Byrne as the most famous ever seen at the Olympic stadium. Once Tallis got hold of the much smaller Hodgson in the 15th minute and started to 'ragdoll' him towards the sideline, the result was inevitable. Hodgson into touch, Tallis into folklore.
2. Turvey kisses the turf. Game 2, 1985
The SCG has been the scene of some of rugby league's most memorable moments – from epic grand finals to Test matches and stoushes between the city slickers and the bushies. One man who knew how to make a statement on the hallowed turf was Steve Mortimer, the champion Canterbury halfback who tasted grand final glory in 1980, '84 and '85 at the SCG. On June 11, 1985, Mortimer was at the helm as NSW wrapped up their first ever Origin series win with a 21-14 victory in game two. With his dream realised, Turvey sunk to the sacred turf and gave thanks for the opportunity to lead his state – and lead them to the promised land.
1. Mark Coyne's miracle. Game 1, 1994
We've seen it so many times over the years that we shouldn't be surprised when Queensland conjure a comeback miracle. And so it was at the SFS in the 1994 series opener when a star-studded Blues side led by Laurie Daley looked home and hosed before the Maroons launched one last Hail Mary play from deep in their own territory. Despite the desperate attempts by Blues defenders to stem the tide, the Maroon wave rolled downfield through the hands of Carne and Renouf and Hancock and Darren Smith and Langer and Meninga before the unassuming Coyne took the ball and cut back inside to plant the ball down with Stuart, Elias and Fittler clinging to him.
Don't miss Game II of Origin at ANZ Stadium on Sunday June 24. Get your tickets here