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Celebrating 100 State of Origins: Part Four

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Canberra Times

76 Johnathan Thurston (Qld)

Best Moment: It’s hard to pin-point one moment. Game three of 2006, when we started this run. Locky [Darren Lockyer] scooting up that loose ball and scoring a try to put us in front and getting smashed by Tonie Carroll after he scored.

Favourite Memory: I’ve seen the Miracle Try in 1994 but the memory that sticks out is Wally Lewis’ try at the Sydney Football Stadium in the late '80s where he has dummied inside to no one and beat three players. That’s the one that sticks out for me.

77 Noel Cleal (NSW)

BM: I don’t sit down and watch my own games, but I can’t go past being involved in NSW’s first series win in 1985, as well as the first-ever series clean sweep the next year. After Brett Kenny scored that try (in game two, 1985) that clinched the game, and Turvey [Steve Mortimer] kissed the ground and we carried him off, I remember the first bloke I saw in the dressing sheds was my dad. That was a bit special.

FM: I can’t say my drop-out air swing (in Origin II, 1984) so it’s hard to beat the Mark Coyne try, even though it was a Queensland win. The rest runs second virtually. It really epitomises Queensland – they’re never beaten, the bastards. You expect it from them but at the same time there was so much theatre around it. Even to the layman, someone who knew nothing about rugby league, they would have got some of excitement out of it.’’

78 Paul McGregor (NSW)

BM: My first game [in 1992], I'd only played half a year of first grade. You always remember the first one because you're not sure if you're ready or prepared well enough. I remember the build-up to it. We had five debutants that day and we went on to win that series and that group stayed together for a long period of time.

FM: The one that sticks out the most, I was actually running the water and messages for (coach) Graham Murray when we turned over the ball and Lockyer picked it up and scored, [Queensland’s] first series win of the streak. I was close enough to actually do something about the try but I couldn't. That sticks out in my mind

79 Gene Miles (Qld)

BM: I was fortunate enough to play in six winning series but my fondest memory was the one I lost in 1986. We lost 3-0 but there wasn't more than a converted try between the teams in any of the games and that happened to be a Kangaroo touring year so I got to play with the bulk of those guys from NSW that year too.

FM:  The vision of Arthur [Beetson] taking the field at Lang Park with the cut-off sleeves and the resin on the front of his jersey is an image that has stayed with me for a long, long time and that is still spoken about in preparation for the series these days as well. 

80 Mark Murray (Qld)

BM: In 1982, the Origin concept went to a series for the first time and I remember we got beat in game one and I was disappointed in my own game and concerned about whether I would get chosen again. But we had a solid win in game two and I was pretty happy with my game and I felt comfortable at Origin level from then on.

FM: When Beetson exploded physically and belted Mick Cronin, that made such a strong statement about what Origin meant; Queensland had had enough and the arrogance was stopping right there and then. Arthur was such a tremendous guy and he didn't have any enemies so the last thing he would have wanted to do was belt one of his own teammates.

81 Paul Harragon (NSW)

BM: When NSW won their first series, that was a big one. That was when Turvey Mortimer was lifted on the shoulders. The first one was pretty big too because I was a kid playing in the NSW under-12s versus Queensland and we played at Lang Park earlier in the day. I remember watching the game that night, not there, and the first game stuck out.

FM: When we were the better team, Mark Coyne scored that try in the last minute. Then in game two we were in Melbourne and the call was "we win this game, we win the series". It showed how great that team was, to come back from that gut-wrenching loss.

82 Gary Larson (Qld)

BM: The campaign that stands out is most definitely the '95 series with Fatty [Vautin]. It was unbelievable to win with what he called a bunch of Nevilles. That was drummed into us for the whole three games. NSW had about 11 internationals, so we done pretty good.

FM: Two games. As a kid, watching Arthur Beetson run onto Lang Park for the first game. I was about 13. And the first game I played, the effort I put in. The emotion.

83 Mark McGaw (NSW)

BM: My first Origin when I scored in the last minute. The thing is, I got wiped out in the first minute of the game by Gene Miles. It was like "welcome". I was in despair in the first minute to elated in the last, I lived a lifetime in one match.

FM: When Michael O'Connor kicked it from the sideline to win the game, I scored in the last second. The set-of-six prior to that, we were on our 25. And you probably remember the photo of Benny Elias with blood running down his face.

84 Michael O'Connor (NSW)

BM: I guess I'd be lying if I didn't say my kick in '91. My sideline kick, as a one-off moment.

FM: Being part of the first NSW side to win an Origin series in '85 was pretty special. Winning all three in '86 was also good but I'd have to go with '85, under Steve Mortimer, because we hadn't won it before.

85 Nathan Hindmarsh (NSW)

BM: The '05 Origin was a special one, that's the last series I was involved in where we won. That was good.

FM: Watching Michael O'Connor's kick at the SFS, in the rain, needing it to go over to win. It just curled in, it's something that's just stuck in my mind. It was special, as a young bloke watching it, that's what Origin is all about.

86 Royce Simmons (NSW)

BM: The first one in '86, I got a bump on the head at the start of the game. The three times I got up I fell straight into my face. Every time I did the crowd all cheered. Back then, if you came off you couldn't go back on. If I'd gone off, I might not have got another game.

FM: In '86, that was the best one. I'm pretty sure that was the first time a series had been won 3-0. It assured pretty much the whole NSW pack made the Aussie side too, so that was a special one. Finchy's [Brett Finch] field goal was special too and when Michael O'Connor put the ball over the line virtually after the bell.

87 Garry Jack (NSW)

BM: In '86 we won it 3-0, up there. I only ever scored one Origin try and that was up at Lang Park in the first game. Sitting there on the old timber benches there when it was time to go, a little $3 bell would go off. That was confronting the first time. And I chased Alan McIndoe from about 80 metres and caught him on the 22. Also, in my last game I fumbled a ball and was replaced by Jack Gibson. I never got another look in.

FM: When we won in '85 with Steve Mortimer for the first time, that was pretty good. In '86 we won it 3-0, that was a great moment.

88 Luke Ricketson (NSW)

BM: In 2003 we won the series 2-1. We won up at Lang Park in the first game and it was my favourite moment. Andrew Johns was at his best, it was a good team with a good Newcastle connection, as well as a good representation from the Roosters. It was a great group of blokes.

FM: The MG-Wally thing for me was giant. That was the passion of Origin at its absolute best. I also remember going to the SCG with the old man and seeing [Greg] Dowling score that try off the crossbar in the pouring rain. That was the first Origin I went to as a kid.

89 David Gillespie (NSW)

BM: I got in at '86 and didn't get back in until 1990, it was a four-year hiatus. It was probably the series in 1990 when I got picked again.

FM: It was more off the field for me, I used to love coming into camp. It's the friendships you make over the years, 20 years later you're still mates with a lot of those blokes. I know you're looking for one moment but that's what sticks out for me.

90 David Fairleigh (NSW)

BM: My debut, game three 1991 at Lang Park. Wally's last Origin. As a 21-year-old experiencing that arena for the first time, it was phenomenal. I will never forget.

FM: My most vivid memory is going down to the SCG with my brothers and sitting on the hill in a quagmire when Noel Cleal's field goal hit the crossbar. We used to get to all of those ones at the SCG on the train from Gosford as kids.

91 Brad Mackay (NSW)

BM: The second year I was selected, Jack Gibson chose a lot of young players and we lost the first series. But in the second series, in the second game in Melbourne, I scored an intercept try and that won the series for us.

FM: I was involved in seven series and we won four and lost three. The moment that stands out is in '93 when we had the game won. There was a scrum down Queensland's end of the field with 40 seconds left. Sterlo [Peter Sterling] said I would have been man of the match if we'd won, but Mark Coyne scored THAT try.

92 Mark Carroll (NSW)

BM: When Tommy Raudonikis called Cattledog, I was the Cattledog punch. I'm the one who started it. People still talk about that now. And it's a funny thing but what meant a lot to me was getting my first pair of NSW shorts. As a kid you dream about that.

FM: That Mark Coyne try. It just shows the game goes for 80 minutes and that's how Queensland play. If they're down they keep throwing the ball. It's bang-bang, connection-connection, and they score that crazy try.

93 Brett Mullins (NSW)

BM: Winning 3-0 in '96, that was pretty special considering we had two games up in Brisbane.

FM: It's hard to pick one. Some of the big blues, like Geyer and Lewis. O'Connor kicking it from the sideline in the wet. Even in '94, that first game, when the bastards beat us on the bell.

94 Matt Geyer (NSW)

BM: I remember we had a set play and we scored after about 30-odd seconds. It wasn't so much a personal thing – later I managed to score a couple of pies in the last game up at Suncorp – and I didn't have a hand in it. But being part of a team with Laurie Daley and Brad Fittler, the move came off like a training drill.

FM: Obviously the one with my brother stands out. The thing I regret personally is that because of what happened at half-time, people forget Mark played pretty well that game. A huge high was also Michael O'Connor kicking the goal in that game from the sideline. And while I'm not condoning fighting, I also remember big Chief [Harragon] and Marty Bella.

95 Jason Taylor (NSW)

BM: My favourite was the one where I was at dummy half and then passed to Rod Wishart for a try in game two in 1993 which won the series for us.

FM: When I think about Origin growing up, the No.1 memory that comes back is how good Wally Lewis was. Even though I was a very passionate NSW supporter, it stuck with me he just how big an influence he was.

96 Tony Butterfield (NSW)

BM: It was the last game of '98, it was a close game and we lost. I'd have to say spending time with Tommy in camp was the highlight given we didn't win. The intensity of the game is what I remember.

FM: I was up at Suncorp sitting with Queenslander Mick McLean when Greg Inglis scored those length-of-the-field tries. We just looked at each other and our jaws dropped. Both of us claimed him of course. In all the years of watching league, that was an incredible run, in good company.

97 Tim Brasher (NSW)

BM: The 3-0 in '96 was awesome, especially after getting beat the year before. We were a team that was supposed to be not that good. In 2000, we won 3-0 as well. The most satisfying was my comeback game after a year of injury and I got back in game two of 2000 and got man of the match.

FM: A try off Laurie Daley. Another was my first game, I came off the bench and had the best half of footy in my life. I stopped Coyney [Mark Coyne] in the corner a centimetre from the line, coming from the opposite wing.

98 Geoff Gerard (NSW)

BM: I played in the infamous one with Les Boyd [who broke the jaw of Darryl Brohman]. It gets mentioned a lot. It's not an iconic moment but is the biggest thing I remember from the game, apart from the fact we got smashed up there. The passion continues after so many years.

FM: It's about what our game represents. These guys can be teammates one minute and then go out and give everything for their state. The beauty is there is no quarter given. In the past I did a lot of work in Victoria and the mad Aussie rules people there really wish they had a State of Origin series that would equal ours.

99 Michael Buettner (NSW)

BM: I'm the original one-game wonder, in '97, and it was the famous Cattledog. I was on the bench at the time when Jimmy Goddard smashed Joey Johns. I eventually got on the field and I recall knocking out a couple of my Bears teammates accidentally. Billy Moore identified me in the defensive line and crabbed across and before he knew it I smashed him and was standing over him. I did in my medial ligament, it was the highs and lows in one game.

FM: I went to the SFS as a 17-year-old in the pouring rain watching Michael O'Connor kick that goal. I was right behind where he was kicking it from and I saw it swing around and go over.

100 Darren Albert (NSW)

BM: Not so much on the field but on the way to the ground, it was in Brisbane. It was something else. As for on field, we got beat in that game so there wasn't anything memorable there.

FM: I live in Queensland and we haven't won a series since I met my wife, I cop stick all the time. The Brett Finch field goal, as a New South Welshman is probably a standout for me.

Interviews by Michael Carayannis, Michael Chammas, Brad Walter, Adrian Proszenko, Chris Barrett and Daniel Lane

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