Thursday 22 February 2018 / 03:24 PM


Low-profile Melbourne Storm prop Tim Glasby’s selection in Queensland’s squad for the second State of Origin clash has been met with derision from south of the border.

But players like the Townsville-born 28-year-old – exactly the type of player NSW have overlooked time and again – have been the lifeblood of the Maroons’ overwhelming success in Origin history (as a reminder, that record stands at 58-49-2 in the head-to-head stakes and 20-13-2 in the series count).

We’ve put together a composite line-up of unheralded, ultra-consistent grafters that never got a look-in at the Blues’ selection table, yet almost certainly would have carved out impressive Origin careers had they have played their first senior footy north of the Tweed.

1 Luke Patten

One of the most consistent custodians of the modern era, ‘The General’ scored 100 tries in 282 NRL games for the Steelers, Dragons and Bulldogs, winning a premiership with the latter in 2004. Patten represented Country three times but the likes of Mark Hughes, Brett Hodgson, Anthony Minichiello, Brett Stewart and Kurt Gidley were preferred in the NSW No.1 jumper during the 2000s.

2 Nathan Blacklock

If Blacklock could have found a Greg Inglis-type loophole and qualified for Queensland, he would have become one of the greatest wingers in Origin history. Probably the most controversial Blues omission of all time, the Dragons freak scored 121 tries in 142 games, and won the NRL’s tryscoring title and Dally M Winger of the Year award three seasons straight (1999-2001). Even two Tests for Australia in ’01 weren’t enough for the NSW selectors, who preferred more robust types like Adam MacDougall, Jason Moodie, Jamie Ainscough, Timana Tahu and Michael DeVere.

3 Chris Lawrence

The Tigers powerhouse scored four tries in six Tests for Australia in 2010-11 yet couldn’t crack a state side that was in the midst of a record losing streak. Some of the players selected in the NSW centres around this time: Joel Monaghan, Beau Scott, Timana Tahu, Will Hopoate.

4 Ivan Cleary

Cleary wouldn’t have registered on any Blues selector’s radars, despite scoring 64 tries and 1,363 points in 186 games from 1992-2002, kicking at around 80 percent for most of his career and defending brilliantly at centre or fullback. He was effectively the Jarrod Croker of his era, with the Blues selectors’ strategy of cramming as many fullbacks into their line-up as possible still keeping the door shut on the Canberra pointscoring machine.

5 Luke Burt

Parramatta stalwart Burt scored 124 tries and 1,793 points at NRL level from 1999-2012 – both records for an eligible player that failed to win State of Origin selection during their career. The super-reliable Burt was similar to the likes of Queensland mid-2000s reps Clinton Schifcofske and Josh Hannay, only better. Would have played 10-15 Origins if he’d been a Maroon.

6 Preston Campbell

Geoff Toovey and Brett Hodgson aside, the Blues have shied away from diminutive types. That meant Preston Campbell was never a chance, despite winning a Dally M Medal with the Sharks, a grand final with the Panthers, and producing dozens of brilliant, courageous performances at fullback and five-eighth for the Titans. Campbell would have been an ideal bench weapon, but NSW preferred to carry the likes of Craig Wing, Ben Hornby and Kurt Gidley on the interchange.

7 Matt Orford

To be fair, the Blues did try and call up the Melbourne and Manly linchpin but he twice pulled out with injury. This was during the mid-2000s, the pre-Thurston days when Queensland were struggling for a post-Langer halfback and persevering with the likes of Shaun Berrigan and Scott Prince. That doesn’t excuse NSW from overlooking the veteran playmaker further down the track, though, taking a punt on Jarrod Mullen, Peter Wallace and Mitchell Pearce, and repeatedly recalling Brett Kimmorley, while Orford was winning the Dally M Medal and captaining the Sea Eagles to premiership glory.

8 Darren Britt

Tough, ball-playing Canterbury prop Britt holds a somewhat bittersweet record: the most Test appearances during the Origin era without representing their state. Britt turned out for Australia nine times from 1998-2000 and was a respected captain of the Bulldogs, yet recalls for a past-it Mark Carroll and drug cheat Rodney Howe were deemed more appropriate by Blues selectors.

9 Nathan Brown

One of the most gifted No.9s to grace the premiership in the 1990s, Brown could only look on as the picking-halfbacks-at-hooker craze swept the representative arena. The only players to start at hooker for NSW from 1996-2000 were premiership-winning halves Andrew Johns, Geoff Toovey, Matthew Johns and Craig Gower.

10 Luke Douglas

If David Shillington, Jacob Lillyman, Ben Hannant, Neville Costigan and early-career Matt Scott could rack up a swag of games for Queensland over the last decade, surely ironman Luke Douglas could have jagged a debut for the Maroons if eligible. He played an all-time record 215 consecutive first grade games, yet joined St Helens at the end of last year with just one Country Origin guernsey to show for his wholehearted efforts.

11 Chris Heighington

Overlooked by NSW so often he went and played for England. Heighington’s 307 NRL appearances – which include grand final wins with two clubs – are a record for an eligible player that failed to win Origin selection in their career. Exactly the type of player the Blues have needed for the past decade.

12 Shaun Fensom

Speaking of players NSW have been crying out for during their record losing era… Typing ‘fensom origin’ into Twitter returns hundreds of results, with fans and pundits alike bemoaning the Canberra back-row workhorse’s constant snubbings from 2011-16. Farcically, the Camden product with the heart of an ox hasn’t even played for Country.

13 Alan Tongue

Another tireless Raider who couldn’t win favour with NSW, Tongue was one of the premiership’s most valuable locks but also started 50 games at hooker for the Green Machine and was skilful enough to fill in several times in the halves. Plus he was a genuine leader. Would have kept Dallas Johnson out of the Queensland No.13 jumper for several years, but played just once for Country during his 220-game Canberra tenure.

14 Ryan Hinchcliffe

While the Blues continually watched Michael Ennis and Robbie Farah lose Origins for them, they let Cameron Smith’s Storm back-up sit in the representative shadows. Hinchcliffe would have brought Peats-like steadiness and Melbourne’s winning mentality to the flighty, confidence-stricken NSW side. Worse still, the three-time Country rep was a top-shelf lock with five-eighth experience, and his versatility was custom-made for the Origin arena.

15 Lance Thompson

File alongside Fensom and Tongue. Thompson played five games for City, but NSW preferred athletes and musclemen to the likes of the compact redhead during a 239-game career that spanned from 1995-2008. Definitely would have worn the Queensland jumper if eligible, given some of the part-timers the Maroons gave back-row call-ups to.

16 Danny Lee

A 212-game veteran for Cronulla and Dally M Prop of the Year in 1995, Lee was overlooked in favour of the more explosive Blues front-rowers running around in the 1990s. The NSW Super League selectors could see his value, however, giving him a well-earned rep call-up during the 1997 Tri-Series.

17 Mark Minichiello

Only a handful of players have made more than Minichiello’s 259 NRL appearances without getting an Origin call-up. The Roosters, Rabbitohs and Titans stalwart played five straight years for City (2007-11) but couldn’t join brother Anthony in the ranks of Blues reps, despite being one of the most consistent and hardworking back-rowers going around. Meanwhile, Ben Creagh, Anthony Laffranchi, Anthony Tupou, Steve Simpson, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Trent Waterhouse walked into the NSW and Australian sides during this period.

[YouTube – AP7 Montages]

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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