The 2012 State of Origin series saw Mal Meninga and Ricky Stuart take the rivalry to newfangled heights. The off-field battle was quiet frequent, consisting of numerous remarks which kept the media industry and league fanatics amused. Were some comments unfair? Sure. Did a few go over the top? More than likely. Did the public really care? Not at all.
The build-up to this series has been radically different to recent years. Mal and Ricky’s public quarrel was no doubt the greatest coaching feud in Origin history. Was it good for the game? Undeniably.
Arguably, in 2012, we observed one of the greatest series in Origin history. It seemed NSW finally began to care about Origin again.
It was proof that State of Origin is more alive than ever. Suncorp and ANZ stadium both logged record attendance figures (best since 2006); Game II television rating even peaked at 2.823 million. The dueling that went on between the coaches’ clearly generated interests from the community, which unquestionably had an effect on the players’ mentality, resulting in such a high quality series. Since Mal’s supremacy began, last series was the first time Mal really came out of his shell. The pride and patriotism these two showed was unmatched.
However Ricky’s demeanor and constant whining in the 2012 series trickled down and might have been a hindrance on his players. Paul Gallen continuously peppered the referees in Games I, II and III. His overwhelming outbreaks where heightened by his frequent screaming and gesturing; in Game III the umpires had had enough and refused to answer anymore of his questions. This was an awful display of leadership and a distinct sign that his confidence was fading; it showed frustration and defeat. If you were playing for NSW, and your coach and captain acted in this manner for the whole series wouldn’t you think, “Shit, our two influential figures are disputing everything, shit they don’t look to be in control, shit they looked frazzled, shit they are worried, shit I should be worried”.
In saying that it nearly worked. Queensland played their worst series in seven years, with a spectacular 42-meter drop being the difference.
Laurie Daley has taken a much different approach. Well, much different to Ricky’s, but extremely similar to Mal’s. The humble, quietly confident method is a play out of Mal’s novel, “Seven Years of Dominance”. The Blues made a strategic move by selecting a coach who is greatly adored and respected by everyone, even the Queenslanders; the complete opposite of Ricky Stuart. The calming method Mal has implemented seems to be the key (7 in a row).
Game I of a series can sometimes be overlooked, with certain admirers placing more importunacy on the third game. However players, coaches, and Rugby League legends will all tell you that Game I is certainly the most significant. Out of the 31, best of 3 game series played, the team who win’s Game I has gone on to win the series a staggering 26 times, lost 6, and drawn 2.
Will this new polite tactic end up being a favourable one for the Blues? Will it catch the Queenslanders off guard? Will going from the extreme build up in 2012 to the opposite backfire for NSW?
All will be answered in good time. Origin is finally here and the stage is set. Lets hope this off field graciousness transforms into some electrifying, State vs. State Rugby League.
One inevitability detail is that Greg ‘Face-Fend’ Inglis will run over at least 5 players in Blue.
- Since the 2006, Queensland have used just 4 halves combinations; Laurie Daley has selected the Blue’s 15th for Game I.
- In Queensland’s’ 7 years of dominance, they have used 47 different players, where as NSW have gone through 82.
- Johnathan Thurston is the only player for QLD to play in all 21 Origin games since the beginning of the 2006 Origin series. He will also play his 25th consecutive Game for QLD tonight, passing Gary Larson record of 24.
- Mitchell Pearce has won only 2/9 Origin Games (and was picked before Todd Carney).
- NSW have won 6 out of the last 21 Origin Games.
- 17 out of those 21 games have been decided by 12 points or less.
- The last 7 Origin games have been decided by 10 points or less.
- Queensland have lead at half time in the last 9 Origin games.
- Queensland have won a record 7 Origin series in a row.