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Benny Elias wears the scars of battle after Game One.

Coming back from an Origin series is tough, especially after you've been stripped of the captain's job.

As part of a series of first-person pieces by Origin greats, Blues hooker Benny Elias describes the influence of Phil Gould on Origin. This article originally appeared in Rugby League Week's Heroes of Origin magazine in 2012.

It was a devasting blow and a wake-up call for me when I was told by NSW Rugby League boss John Quayle that I wasn't going to be the Blues captain in 1992.

I was captain of NSW in 1991 and I'd had all that turmoil with Tim Sheens, who had been the NSW coach. I knew that once you lose a series you were lucky to survive.

 I remember asking John if I'd be still in the side and he couldn't tell me. I was so nervous about being selected, so when I heard my name read out it was like Christmas again.

It gave me a whole new lease of life. The great man Wally Lewis had exited Origin and it was Phil Gould's first year as NSW coach.

I'd had nothing to do with 'Gus' until the first day of camp, but I'd say it was from that very moment that NSW grasped what it takes to have Origin dominance.

Full Match Replay: Blues v Maroons - Game 1, 1992

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Gus had the ability to get into people's heads and minds. Every minute that you had with him, Gus was preparing you for game day.

I remember he presented me with a ball in front of the whole side. He said, "This is your ball Benny and this other ball is for the team".

It was a smartarse crack at me to say that we are a team, not a bunch of individuals. I smirked about it and thought, "Ha, ha, ha".

So when I got the game ball for man of the match after Game One, I presented it back to him and said, "Gus, this is my ball. I'm giving it back to you and the team".

Gus was the most inspirational coach I've ever had. I'll never forget just before Game One, we were in his room at the Coogee Holiday Inn.

It was just the 17 players. He said very clearly: "Tonight, everyone you've ever come in contact with in your life - whether they be good, bad or indifferent ... old girlfriends or new loves - will say that they know the bloke they are watching on the TV screen. You are playing for all the people that you have touched in your life up until this day. This is the time to turn history on its head".

Balmain trio Tim Brasher, Ben Elias and Paul Sironen.
Balmain trio Tim Brasher, Ben Elias and Paul Sironen. ©NRL Photos

It became very personal and I could see the blokes were ready. I just knew something remarkable was going to happen. We walked away and barely said a word until kick-off. That match was one of the most special games of my life, and it's one that people still talk about.

I'll never forget the first try Brad Clyde scored on the left-hand side going towards the northern end. We rehearsed it with Gus over and over again. It was a set move done to perfection ... attacking Mal Meninga's side because he wasn't that agile. I remember thinking, "Shit, whatever the coach says I am going to execute".

Everyone shook their heads walking back and knew that Gus was the master. Our captain Laurie Daley got knocked out early and 'Clydey' eventually got replaced too.

NSW coaching great Phil Gould.
NSW coaching great Phil Gould. ©NRL Photos

At half-time, Gus told me that we needed a leader and I was the man. I got a big gash in my head that needed 14 stitches after I went low on Big Mal and got the back of his boot. It felt like an axe had gone through my head and blood was pouring out.

I recall the trainer patching it up, but I stayed on. It was a capacity crowd at the SFS, Game One and we'd lost the last series and had two of our strike players off. There was so much pressure.

They say you've got to spill blood for each other, well I did that literally. But for my mum Barbara to jump over the fence at the end and get through 48 security guards and be on the paddock with 10 seconds to go was just remarkable.

There are special moments that last for the rest of your life and having Mum in my arms was one of them. She was just genuinely worried about her son.

Queensland won the second game but we won the third. Gus never panicked after Game Two. He had confidence in us.

After we won the series John Quayle was drunk with happiness. He put his arm around me and said, "That is one of the sweetest victories of our lives".

Beny Elias and John Quayle after a NSW win.
Beny Elias and John Quayle after a NSW win. ©NRL Photos

To see the boss man of NSW so joyous, the coach over the moon and the players all around you ecstatic ... it was one of those moments you just want to freeze forever.

That bunch of blokes, coached by Gus, well, if I could bottle them, I would. That was the moment we turned State of Origin on its head. It brought a close to the Lewis era and started the NSW era. Gus launched it. Love him or hate him, there is no greater coach.

- as told to Joel Gould

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