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Maroons captain Darren Lockyer with the Origin shield in 2006.

The Queenslanders had their backsides whacked in the 2005 Origin series, conceding 64 points in the final two games – or having 11 tries scored against them.

Spirits were down as the Blues were rampaging towards winning a fourth series on the trot and holding that shield for another year - again.

The Maroons had claimed the 2002 shield despite the third game finishing in an 18-18 draw (no golden point back then) but had lost the 2003, 2004 and 2005 series 2-1 each time.

But with the retirement of Andrew Johns the Maroons had a glimmer of hope.

And they had five-eighth and skipper Darren Lockyer, whose creativity and calmness not only won him the Ron McAuliffe Medal for the Queensland player of the series, but the Wally Lewis Medal for overall best from either side across all three games.

The Maroons pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and won in 2006 to lay the foundation for one of the best sporting records across any code.

They went on to win the next seven Origin series to make it eight years in a row before Laurie Daley and his 2014 Blues side stopped the rot.

Game One, Blues 17 bt Maroons 16 at Stadium Australia

Roosters half Brett Finch became fourth choice No.7 after Craig Gower – originally named in the starting line-up – fell to injury followed by Manly’s Matt Orford, who was first contacted as a replacement.

Selectors then tried to lure Andrew Johns – hero of the 2005 series win – into a second comeback, or Trent Barrett, but both turned the offer down.

Finch marches in against a Maroons side packed with seven debutants to try to stop the Blues winning for a fourth year in a row, and he pots the winning field goal, in the 78th minute.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Finch had scored the opening try in the ninth minute to well and truly vindicate his selection, followed by tries to Matt King and Willie Mason.

The Blues had a handy 14-0 lead at half-time but then the Maroons came out of their shell, with Greg Inglis scoring a double before Steven Bell’s 75th minute try levelling scores 16-16.

Inglis was among those seven debutants, which included Matt Scott and Sam Thaiday, who both went on to play more than 20 Origin games each.

Mason ran for 168 metres – the most of either side – and was named man of the match.

Game Two, Maroons 30 bt Blues 6 at Suncorp Stadium

Adam Mogg became a bit of a cult hero as he was plucked from relative obscurity in the Raiders backline to fill the hole left by Inglis, who picked up a leg injury after game one.

But Mogg rattled off two tries – one in each half – in Queensland’s total of five for the game, to turn a one-point defeat into a 23-point victory in the space of three weeks.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Centre Timana Tahu scored the Blues' only try and it didn’t come until the 74th minute.

Darren Lockyer was named man of the match, for the second time. His first in Game Three of 2001,  when Queensland claimed the series.

Game Three, Maroons 16 bt Blues 14 at Dockland Stadium

At a neutral venue in Melbourne, and with legendary centre Justin Hodges ruled out with a torn hamstring and fellow centre Steve Bell also out with  fractured eye socket, NSW were heavy favourites in the decider.

And that was despite NSW making five changes bringing in Matt Cooper, Paul Gallen, Craig Gower, Luke O'Donnell and Ben Hornby. They also moved centre Mark Gasnier to five-eighth and winger Matt King to centre.

All of this looked like a stroke of genius as the Blues led 14-4 with 10 minutes to play.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

But then Brent Tate went streaking down the right flank, evading tacklers, to plant the ball near the goal posts before Lockyer scored an intercept try inside the Blues own half with seven minutes on the clock.

With scores now level 14-14, it was Clinton Schifcofske’s conversion in the 73rd minute that won the match and the series.

Tate was voted man of the match and the Queensland dominance was up, up and away!

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Play of the series

Brent Tate's 70th minute try in Game III. 

Queensland hadn't scored a point for 61 minutes and then Johnathan Thurston bursts through a gap, runs for nearly 20 metres and sends the pass out to Tate, just before the 40-metre line inside the Maroons half.

By the time Tate has crossed halfway, he's out-sprinted fullback Brett Hodgson and centre Matt Cooper.

The only one left chasing is interchange forward Steve Menzies in cover-defence but Tate has his teeth clenched tight, and the Steeden tucked under his right arm.

He steps around Menzies and then evades Hodgson, who has one more shot at him in the in-goal, before diving on the ball right between the uprights.

Lockyer wins it for the Maroons

Best player

Reflecting years later, Thurston said Queensland doesn't win that match - or the series - without the calming and calculating presence of Darren Lockyer, who picked up the Wally Lewis Medal.

Thurston, who had two try assists and a line break in Game III, had just experienced his first Origin series win with the 2006 heroics. 

"They are good memories ... We had our backs against the wall for most of that game", Thurston said.

"It was a team that had great self-belief and confidence to get the job done and a lot of that was down to Locky telling us so. He kept us calm and told us to not give up all through that second half."

Grothe intcepts a Thurston pass

The quote

"I’d like to think we have set up a pretty good few years for NSW," said then captain Danny Buderus following the Blues' Game I victory.

"We’re only a young side. I think we have a few more (series) left in us."

Ahhh, Danny boy - he lost the 2007 and 2008 series before leaving Australia in 2009 to play for Leeds in Super League.

Air Mogg

Unsung hero

Adam Mogg's selection for game two of the series raised plenty of eyebrows as he and Karmichael Hunt were brought into the Maroons backline with the series on the line. Mogg proceeded to grab a double and silence the critics big time as Queensland levelled the series with a 30-6 win at Suncorp Stadium.

The Raiders winger proved it was no fluke by crossing again in the decider as the Maroons came back from the dead to seal a famous series win. And that would be his last ever Origin game.

"He came from out of the blue and did a job," Darren Lockyer would say years later. "The talk was, 'where is this bloke from?' Two games later, he'd played a massive hand in winning the 2006 series."

The following year

The Maroons made it back-to-back series wins, getting home 25-18 in the opener at Suncorp Stadium with Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston starring, and repeating the dose in Sydney a tense struggle in Sydney.

Cameron Smith took man of the match honours in game two as Queensland won for the first time ever at Sydney's Olympic stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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