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Tommy, the Peach and Horrie among NSW Blues' one-game wonders

Over the past 40 years there have been 502 State of Origin players and of those 84 – or 16.5 per cent – were in representative rugby league's ultimate arena just once.

The reasons are many but for most it boiled down to one of bad luck, bad timing or a bad day at the office.

Still, it's not all hard-luck stories and what-might-have-beens. There are many of the game's greats among these one-shot wonders including a rugby league Immortal, two '82 Invincibles, multiple Dally M Rookie and Team of the Year honorees, premiership winners and Kangaroos.

A sizeable chunk of the one-and-doners are players whose representative twilight just stretched into the early 1980s – including 13 in the inaugural State of Origin clash at Lang Park in 1980 which Queensland won 20-10.

The 84 soloists break down into 31 of Queensland's 211 Origin reps and 53 of 291 Blues – a fact that will gladden the hearts of those for whom the pick-and-stick mantra is as cherished as NSW-born Billy Moore emerging from the tunnel bellowing "Queenslander!".

Jamal Idris is his lone Origin appearance.
Jamal Idris is his lone Origin appearance. ©NRL Photos

With that in mind, NRL.com has come up with two teams of players who have one Origin appearance to their name.

In selecting the teams, when a tie-breaker was necessary we opted for the player who had made a better impact in his one Origin appearance over the player with the more impressive overall career. 

In the lead up to Sydney's Origin match for 2020, NRL.com will look at a Blues team of one-gamers. Next weekend, the Maroons.

NSW Blues

One-timers team: 1. David Peachey, 2. Phil Duke, 3. Jamal Idris, 4. Michael Gordon, 5. Hazem El Masri, 6. Terry Campese, 7. Tommy Raudonikis (c), 8. Steve Hanson, 9. Steve Edge, 10. Steve Bowden, 11. David Brooks, 12. Bob Cooper, 13. Jim Leis. Interchange: 14. Kevin Hastings, 15, Brett Rodwell, 16. Terry Matterson, 17. Robert Stone.

The first example of the selection policy comes at fullback for NSW where Sharks icon David Peachey edged out Sea Eagles great Graham Eadie (a 1980 original) on the strength of his match-winning try in Game 1 of the 2000 series, when he was a late injury replacement for Robbie Ross.

Another notable inclusion is Phil Duke ahead of Knights flyer Darren Albert. Duke is famous for grassing an errant pass from Phil Sigsworth, allowing Wally Lewis to pounce for the match-winning try in the 10-5 series-deciding Game 3 loss in 1982, but few would remember that Duke, who hadn't played Sydney first grade football at the time and was representing Moree Boomerangs, scored NSW's only try.

In fact, the Blues Origin One-Timer squad contains 80 per cent of the 10 one-gamers who scored a try or kicked at least one goal – Peachey, Duke, goal-kicking winger Hazem El-Masri (a try and three-from-three in NSW's 18-4 win in the 2007 Game 3 dead rubber), centres Jamal Idris (a try in Game 1 of the 2010 whitewash) and Michael Gordon (three-from-three in Game 2 of the same series), halfback and captain Tommy Raudonikis (a try in 1980), prop Steve Hanson (a try in Game 3 of a 3-0 thrashing in 1988) and interchange player Brett Rodwell (a try in Game 2 of yet another 3-0 Maroons romp in 1995).

Brett Rodwell in action for NSW.
Brett Rodwell in action for NSW. ©NRL Photos

The others are Tony Melrose (two-from-three, 11-7 Game 2 loss in 1982), who couldn't be squeezed into the NSW line-up, and Queensland second-rower Ethan Lowe (four-from-four, series-deciding 26-20 loss in 2019). 

In addition to Eadie and Albert, '92 Invincible Don McKinnon was edged out by Hanson and former Dally M Rookie (1982) and Five-Eighth of the Year (1989) Phil Blake lost out to Rodwell despite his 138 tries, eight goals and 15 field goals in 269 first grade games.

40 years in the making: Ampol State of Origin

Joining Raudonikis in the Blues halves is Raiders stalwart Terry Campese (28-18 Game 1 loss in 2009), whose 139-game Raiders career (24 tries, 124 goals, field goal) also earned him a Test for Australia and four for Italy.

At No.9 for the Blues is Steve Edge, another Origin original for whom 1980 was his only representative appearance. He won five first grade grand finals and is the only man to have captained two teams (the Dragons and Eels) to premiership success.

Joining Edge and Hanson in the NSW front row is Jets enforcer Steve Bowden (22-15 loss in the 1981 Origin stand-alone), whose 80 games for Newtown between 1978 and 1982 included 14 tries and a starring role in the infamous 1981 major semi-final brawl where he dished out a brutal battering to Sea Eagles prop Mark Broadhurst.

Starting second-rowers for the Blues are David Brooks (20-6 Game 3 loss, 1985), a Tigers veteran who played 173 first grade games between 1983 and 1992; and rangy Bob Cooper, another '80 original who was suspended for 15 months in 1982 for running in to join a brawl and defeated the tax commissioner in court after being denied a claim for a weekly beer ration that had been ordered by coach Roy Masters.

At lock is Jim Leis (1980), who took out the Dally M Rookie and Lock of the Year awards that same year and went on to play a total of 97 first grade games for the Magpies, Bulldogs and Sharks.

Joining Rodwell on the bench are Kevin Hastings (43-22 loss, Game 3 1983), who played 230 games for the Roosters; Terry Matterson (36-16 loss, Game 3 1989), who scored 29 tries and kicked 315 goals in 163 games for the Roosters and Broncos; and Robert Stone (1980), one of Bath's Babes who won premierships in all three grades for the Dragons.

 

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