Gorden Tallis is one of the Origin legends, but he was so disillusioned about his actions in a match that he was wanted to quit the Queensland team.
As part of a series of first-person pieces by Origin greats, Tallis writes about his decision and how a great coach changed his mind. This article originally appeared in Rugby League Week's Heroes of Origin magazine in 2012.
Tallis: The fire within
Sometime during the 2000 State of Origin series - I'm not sure if it was after the second or third game – I told Wayne Bennett I wanted to retire from interstate football.
I was done, over it.
You could probably say we didn't have the strongest squad in 2000 because the next year we added 10 debutants and won the thing. But in game one at Homebush, I remember Queensland having a red-hot go when it was 16-16 with not long left, and there were two Blues knock-ons 30 metres off the NSW line.
I thought we could kick a field goal or have a chance to put the game out of its misery.
And we didn't get that opportunity.
Yes, that's the game where I was sent off for calling referee Bill Harrigan a cheat.
I was close to the area where the knock-ons happened, I saw them. I turned to Bill and said, "What's going on?"
Then, when they ended up scoring - they had a great side, they ended up passing the ball out and going over in the corner four tackles later - I ran over and said, "Why didn't you check the video ref, there were two knock-ons back there?"
We had the technology. I asked him to go check what I saw. It's surprising how they missed them.
I thought I'd let down my state. It's probably the loss that hurt me the most, throughout Origin, even though they all hurt really deeply.
It's not so much that I felt I let down my state - I did let down my state. Of course I felt that. Origins are hard to win.
We had 17 Queenslanders out there trying to achieve something we didn't end up doing for another seven years (winning in Sydney).
We got a chance, one decision goes against us, I go and stand up against that decision - rightly or wrongly - and I get sent off.
I let down my teammates that night and my state. It wasn't the nicest feeling walking off. I just remember feeling gutted and shocked.
I didn't argue for the sake of arguing. I'm not John McEnroe.Gorden Tallis
You're never going to change their decision but I knew I was right. I was 100 per cent right. People think, "Oh yeah, this bloke, he just argues with referees".
I only argued when I was right, when I saw it. I didn't argue for the sake of arguing.
I'm not John McEnroe. I didn't walk up and just create an argument, because it takes so much energy.
I'm not one of those players who walks up every five minutes asking the ref questions.
But when I thought we were getting a raw deal or when I thought that I saw a decision that was wrong and they made a mistake, I let them know.
So we lost the first game 20-16. The second game at Suncorp I scored a try but we lost 28-10. I think the first two were played in the wet. We were outplayed.
NSW had a really strong squad and not getting the first game when we put in so much effort, I think that affected the whole squad. I know that it affected me. Of course we tried hard in game two but we weren't good enough.
As I said, I got so down on myself about Origin that I wanted to retire from it.
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I remember walking in to see Wayne and having a meeting and saying, “Wayne, I don't want to play this anymore”.
It cut me really deep - especially with the third game and the way NSW disrespected us with that hand grenade post-try celebration stuff.
After the second game, I got rapped over the knuckles from the sponsors. When you're raw and you've just got beat, you get asked, "What about Game Three?"
And I said, "We don't need to play it because they've already won the series. Why do we play it? The World Series, once you've won it, you've won it".
That's the first time I'd ever been beaten 2-0.
Getting up for Game Three was hard. They were on a roll and they got better as the series went on. Queensland didn't seem to get better. We lost 56-16, I thought Origin football had gone past me.
So I said to Wayne, "I've had enough of Origin", and he said, "What if I come back and coach a heap of young kids that you can lead?"
The next year we had 10 debutants, I was captain and the rest is history. We turned a 56-16 hiding into a 34-16 win against the same side.
- as told to Steve Mascord