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NSW and Queensland players during an Origin clash.

As part of a series looking back at four decades of State of Origin football, NRL.com revisits 1982, where the magic of Origin became a three-game series - and still the Blues couldn't crack the Maroons.

 

Give the punters more of "Mate against Mate" and "State against State" was the catch-cry of 1982 as Origin morphed from a stand-alone extravaganza to a three-match series.

The first two games at Lang Park and the third at the SCG but still NSW exited Origin empty-handed losing the series 2-1.

Things started out alright. Frank Stanton took over as NSW coach from Ted Glossop and the Blues came away with a Game I win by a slender four-point margin despite more than 27,000 screaming Queenslanders against them.

No surprise there as the angst had been building in the lead-up. The Sydney-based clubs had refused to release their Maroons players until after the weekend round.

Ribot cuts back inside

That meant Arthur Beetson's men had four days preparation, whereas Stanton had his Blues for more than two weeks. 

Mal Meninga was again in the Queensland backline and it was NSW belligerence like this that he stored away in his memory banks to pull out, when he became coach in 2006, and fire up the Maroons.

The 1982 series also saw the re-appearance in the interstate arena of winger John Ribot de Bresac, otherwise known to his friends and fans as simply John Ribot. But he's recorded in Origin annals by his full birth name.

Before the introduction of State of Origin selection rules, Ribot had played for  Queensland in 1977, and then New South Wales in 1978 because under the residential criteria he was with Brisbane's Wests Panthers in 1977 and then Sydney's Newtown Jets the next season.

Ribot played eight Origin games for the Maroons and his first was in 1982.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Game One, Blues 20 bt Maroons 16 at Lang Park

Stanton appointed Manly's hooker Max Krilich as captain, despite all the money being on Eels lock Ray Price to take over from Steve Rogers, who led the side in the 1981 game.

Amongst all that rugby league royalty, it was actually the humble South Sydney centre Ziggy Niszczot who emerged the star of this game by scoring two of the Blues' four tries.

Then again Blues halfback Steve Mortimer helping his side to a 12-6 halftime lead, which extended to 17-6 early in the second half.

The Blues appeared to be cruising but then Meninga started busting his way through defenders to put Ribot and Mitch Brennan over for tries. Meninga also landed five from six goals.

The powerful Canberra Raider became one of those Origin rarities of winning the man of the match award from the losing side.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Game Two, Maroons 11 bt Blues 7 at Lang Park

The 1982 series was the debut of the fiery red-head Paul Vautin playing at lock in Game One, but he came off the bench into the second row in Game Two - and he scored his maiden Origin try. He only scored two in 21 games, so they were worth celebrating.

Gene Miles, also on debut, ran over the top of Blues fullback Greg Brentnall to score the first of his nine Origin tries in 22 games.

Ribot was the other scorer in this three tries-to-one victory, and with no Meninga (shoulder injury), Colin Scott took over the goal kicking. Wally Lewis also had a crack but was replaced after missing three.

Centre Brad Izzard scored the Blues only try, while winger Tony Melrose kicked two goals. Queensland prop Rod Morris was named voted man of the match.

This match was also Steve Rogers' swansong. He didn't play in the decider and although he played 23 games for NSW, he only played four Origins: 1980, '81, '82.

Match Highlights: Blues v Maroons

Game Three, Maroons 10 bt Blues 5 at the SCG

The Maroons hadn't played at this historic ground since 1976, but they were far from intimidated.

However, they would later learn what a tricky customer the Blues had unearthed in Brett Kenny, who also was a debutant in this series. He came off the bench in Game Two but started at five-eighth in Game Three, replacing Manly's Alan Thompson.

The Maroons were only ahead 5-3 at halftime giving the Blues hope of winning the Origin shield for the first time. But their poor handling put an end to that - incredibly they failed to complete 27 sets.

Wally Lewis scored the second of the Maroons two tries and was named Man of the Match - the first of eight that he would go on to claim in the Origin arena.

Play of the Series

With Game Three - and the series - on a knife’s edge with scores level at 5-5, Blues fullback Phil Sigsworth scrambled to field a Lewis kick in the Blues in-goal.

Trapped by Maroons second-rower Paul McCabe, Sigsworth threw a pass he definitely shouldn't have to his winger Phillip Duke. Duke fumbled the ball and -Lewis dived on it for the match-winning try.

The drama didn't end there as it was revealed that referee Don Wilson had pinged Blues half Steve Mortimer for an incorrect feed to the scrum, when the guilty party was opposite number Mark Murray. That handed possession to the Maroons allowing Lewis to put in his kick at the end of the set.

89. Gene Miles: Wynnum-Manly v Northern Suburbs at Bishop Park, Nundah, March 1, 1981
89. Gene Miles: Wynnum-Manly v Northern Suburbs at Bishop Park, Nundah, March 1, 1981

Best player

While Meninga and Lewis were already established stars for Queensland, 1982 saw the emergence of Gene Miles. Partnering Meninga in the centres for the first time gave the Maroons two giant-killers when it came to breaking the line, putting a winger in the clear, or running over the top of tacklers. They went on to form a lethal combination for over 20 games together.

The quote

"I can see I was too generous in agreeing to the Origin series while not asking for defined rules regarding team preparations," QRL boss Senator Ron McAuliffe said.

"I shall ask for wider access to our selected Sydney players next year. They should be available to us in a live-in situation for a week before the match and allowed to return for their club matches at the weekend."

Meninga on the charge as Brennan scores

Unsung hero

Rod Morris played 20 interstate games but only four Origins - all four were wins in 1980, 1981 and the Games Two and Three in 1982. He might have been slightly in the shadow of older brother Des Morris, but Rod's performance in 1982 in making metres and standing up to NSW forwards like Craig Young, Les Boyd, and Ray Price shouldn't be overlooked. 

The following year

Wally Lewis was really starting to come into his Origin prime in 1983 - winning another two man-of-the-match honours in that series - to add to his first in 1982. But in 1983 although he again helped steer Queensland to a fourth straight Origin shield, he was up against two worthy adversaries - Kenny and the return of his Parramatta offsider Peter Sterling. He had played in 1981 but missed all of 1982.

 

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