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As part of a series looking back at four decades of State of Origin football, NRL.com revisits 1992, where the retirement of Wally Lewis brought a sigh of relief from Tweed Heads to Tathra as NSW claimed their fourth series.

Coming into the 1992 series the Blues were still seething after losing in 1991 by such close margins - just two points separated the sides in the two defeats that handed the shield back to the Maroons.

But there was a bright side... Wally Lewis after 34 games (30 as captain), eight man of the match awards, seven series wins, had left the building.

In came a man who would become NSW's most successful coach - Phil Gould - taking over the reins from Tim Sheens. It was also NSW's turn to host two games.

Still the alarm bells were sounding and NSW selectors blooded seven debutants in the 1992 series - five in Game I alone - while Queensland introduced just three new faces over the entire series.

However, one of them became pretty famous with his 'Queens-lander!' calls - Billy Moore.

NSW also so the dawn of a bit of an Origin cult hero when Paul 'The Chief' Harragon was given his first Blues jersey.

Game One, Blues 14 bt Maroons 6 at SFS

Losing Lewis as skipper didn't seem quite so bad when Mal Meninga was named captain by coach Graham Lowe. 

The attrition rate in this game is why Origin gets the reputation it does as the meanest and toughest game of football going around. 

Blues hooker Benny Elias needed 10 stitches to a head gash, Maroons lock Gary Larson had to be stretchered off, and Maroons prop Steve Jackson was forced from the field with severe concussion. 

The half-time score of 6-6 meant no-one was backing down. 

Bradley Clyde took on his Raiders teammate Meninga to score the first try, but then had to leave the field with an injury. Allan Langer scored to level the score.

Early in the second half, Blues captain Laurie Daley knocked himself out in a tackle with Elias then taking over as skipper, despite blood seeping through his head strapping. 

Props Glenn Lazarus and Harragon started to get the ascendancy through the middle with interchange forward Craig Salvatori scoring the winning try. Rod Wishart kicked three from four to add the extras.

Scrums ended up at 6-6 and penalties at 4-4 to show the closeness of it all.

No surprises than Elias was man of the match and as reporters tried to interview him on the sidelines, his mother Barbara was wiping up blood from his face with a tissue - another iconic Origin moment. 

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Game Two, Maroons 5 bt Blues 4 at Lang Park

It was a gallant fight by the home side after Maroons pair Martin Bella and Peter Jackson spent time in the sin-bin together for back-chatting referee Bill Harrigan. 

Queensland held tough for 10 minutes while down to 11 men without conceding points. In fact the minute after they were returned to their full complement, Moore snuck through for a try on debut.

Meninga missed the conversion with the only other Maroons points coming from a Langer second-half field goal. Most thought the game was heading to the first draw in 35 Origin games before 'Alfie' produced with barely 60 seconds left on the clock.

His opposite number Ricky Stuart had missed in two attempts at a one-pointer.

The Queensland line wasn't crossed all night with the Blues points coming from two penalty goals to Wishart. It was 4-4 at halftime. 

Second rower Bob Lindner was man of the match.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Game Three, Blues 16 bt Maroons 4 at SFS

In almost a mirror image of Game II, the Maroons didn't score a try - their only points coming from two Meninga penalty goals.

In contrast the Blues let loose with Stuart getting some revenge by scoring the first of three fine tries to NSW. 

When the Blues lost their goalkicker Wishart to injury, Maroons hopes rose a little. But then interchange back on debut Tim Brasher took over with the boot converting two from three.

The Balmain winger-centre was a little dynamo all night making decisive metres from swerving, stepping dummy-half runs. His defence was top-notch as well pulling off two try-saving tackles on Mark Coyne and Meninga.

NSW led 4-2 at half-time but in the second half tries to Andrew Ettingshausen and John Cartwright gave the Blues the victory and the series win.

Stuart was named man of the match.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Play of the series

It was earmarked as the try of the series even though it wasn't the match-winner in Game III.

But Ettingshausen finished off a move that started with Elias darting down the blindside before passing to his five-eighth Daley, who put a grubber kick ahead.

Centre Paul McGregor - another on debut in this series - regathered, stepped past the defenders and found Daley backing up. He then offloaded to ET to score and send the Sydney Football Stadium crowd into raptures.

Benny Elias wears the scars of battle after Game One.
Benny Elias wears the scars of battle after Game One. ©NRL Photos

Best player

Ben Elias won his second of three Origin man of the match awards (Game I in 1990 and Game III 1994 being the others). 

He may not have been as flashy as a player as the likes of Stuart, Daley, and ET but it's be hard for anyone to match his passion - and his tireless efforts in defence.

No-one will forget his mum getting her son's blood all over her own cheek as she kissed and hugged her little warrior after Game I. 

Elias played 19 games for NSW and in 2005 - on the 25th anniversary of Origin - he was named in the Blues '25 Greatest Ever' players list.

Kiwi Graham Lowe was much loved by the Maroons players he coached in 1992.
Kiwi Graham Lowe was much loved by the Maroons players he coached in 1992.

The quote

"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," Elias recalled of Phil Gould being the new Blues coach in 1992.

"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."

Bradley Clyde scores for NSW in 1992.
Bradley Clyde scores for NSW in 1992. ©NRL Photos

Unsung hero

A young Penrith player by the name of Brad Fittler played all three games in 1992 in the centres - having to face the might of Meninga and Peter Jackson running at him.

Fittler had only played three Origin games across the '90 and '91 series so this was his first complete campaign - all three matches. Who knew he'd go on to become NSW's most enduring player with 31 games?

The following year

This series started a bit of a run for both the players and Gould. 

They went on to win both the 1993 and 1994 series giving Gould six wins from nine games on his way to his record of 14 from 24. He still is the only NSW Origin coach to reach double figures in wins.

 

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