Wayne Bennett has just enjoyed his finest hour as Maroons coach.
To win the State of Origin series in Brisbane, 40 years after Arthur Beetson and his team did at Lang Park against the odds, was a memorable and great night for the state.
After everything the people of Queensland have been through this year, that performance was the perfect way to farewell a rugby league season like no other.
There were people down south that called this the worst Maroons team ever but Wayne moulded then together, and blooded 14 debutants, to beat a NSW team brimming with talent.
Anyone that has played Origin footy knows it is a game-to-game scenario.
What happened in Sydney a week earlier was irrelevant. Win, lose or draw, you always reset for the next match and that is where Wayne is at his best.
Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues
He got this young and inexperienced team to believe they could, and would, win the decider. And with that, Bennett had his fifth series win, more than three decades after his first in 1987.
One of my sons is in Noosa hospital with appendicitis and when they showed Wayne on the TV screen after the game he sent me a text that simply said ‘GOAT’.
The Maroons forwards were relentless. They smacked NSW in defence.
Lindsay Collins and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui played like men possessed. Big Tino started it and when Collins came on he continued it. They were bending the NSW line in attack as well and just wore the Blues out.
Queensland got Nate Myles in on Zoom to speak to the forwards before the series about playing for the jersey and they all did Nate proud at Suncorp Stadium.
Maroons played to Queensland standard says Bennett
It was another sign of the respect the Maroons have always had for the past. That win epitomised the way they handle Origin footy. Once again, they were written off but came out and dominated.
When Kevin Walters got the Broncos job it was a big moment for the Queensland Rugby League to get their decision on the coach for this series right.
They needed a coach who could weave his magic in the space of just three weeks.
They found their man.
Credit to QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher and the board. Bruce is close to Wayne and knew what he would bring to the table. It was all about trust.
Then Wayne put his coaching team together and brought in Mal Meninga and Neil Henry. It was all about what was best for Queensland.
Munster shares Alfie traits, says Bennett
I have a podcast that I do with Deadly Choices and I spoke to Mal about this. Mal told me it was Wayne’s decision to bring him in and what a great decision it turned out to be.
Let’s not forget Neil in all this, too. It was like a supercoach scenario for three games. That was brilliance from everyone involved.
Mal and Neil didn’t seek the limelight. They worked in with Wayne to achieve a common goal and what they have delivered is amazing.
In 2001, Wayne had Allan Langer to inspire a series win and it was fitting that he said after Game Three he had Cameron Munster, after he missed most of Game Two. I can see the similarities. Munster, like Alf in his day, always wants the ball in his hands. Munster would get the ball every play if he could, and that is a good thing.
I love watching Munster. No-one intimidates him and he doesn’t care who he is playing. He just prances around and does his thing, and he does it so well.
I have seen a few comments about how long Munster is going to party for, and I can tell you that Alf will be right beside him.
Alf’s presence around the group can’t be underestimated. Wayne says he is the “good times manager” and when they were doing their war cry in the sheds Alf was in the middle of it. He just lives and breathes it.
DCE delivers cheeky sledge and lifts the shield
Edrick Lee and Brenko Lee both were outstanding on debut and we have just seen the start of a decade-long Origin career for Harry Grant.
Harry came on and played like he had been there forever.
He backed himself, made breaks and scored a try. How good is this kid? Everyone waits for a talent like Harry to play at this level with a lot of expectation, and he delivered the same way he has in club footy.
I feel the same way about him as I did when I watched Munster on debut a few years ago. You just know they are something special.
This win has given me a big lift and the rest of Queensland.
Before the game I was at the ground to do some media with Kevvie. There were people there from all over the state – from as far away as Mornington Island, Innisfail and Doomadgee.
That Maroons win made their trip and the money spent so worthwhile.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.