Off the back of the electrifying 2012 State of Origin series, Rugby League fans, sports enthusiasts, plus residences of NSW and QLD are gearing up for the 2013 spectacle and all the media propaganda surrounding the series.
About a year ago I returned home for living in New York, and before I moved over I thought my sport obsession was at its peak. Compared to America, Australia are miles behind in sports coverage and reporting. In saying that, no matter how much sport I watched, how many fresh franchises I began to follow, how many new sports I became massively passionate about, how many new athletes I became fixated with, nothing filled the void I was left with from missing Rugby League. In particular watching State of Origin live. How could you not miss this?!?
The three Origin nights of the year are by far my favouite days on the calendar, even more so in 2013 because for the first time in my life I’m attending all three. After every series I never think my passion can reach the level it did the previous year; it’s remarkable just how wrong I am every season.
If for some reason, we lived in a bizarre world were I was forced to choose between three Origin games a year, or my birthday, Christmas, and Easter, my present and chocolate consumption would take a swift dive. Thankfully this peculiar ultimatum isn’t a reality, which means each year I’m blessed with Christmas Day, Easter, and combined with Origin, four birthdays.
In Australia, Origin is the one period of the year where the non-sports follower gets an insight into what a sports fanatics’ life is like from the 1st of January to the 31st of December.
Recently there have been numerous articles from Rugby League admirers who claim they loath Origin because of the inconvenient backlash on their club’s performance; plus how they prefer to watch international league fixtures. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Yes I agree the Origin period causing problems for some teams, but how on earth can you claim to be an ardent Rugby League fan and not appreciate Origin? Easy. Clearly they are not genuine fans. Or they support New Zealand and the Warriors.
No disrespect to the Kiwi fans, but if someone honestly considers an international Rugby League game to be a better spectacle than an Origin, they are too far-gone and there is absolutely zero point in justifying an answer to them.
State of Origin is indisputably the pinnacle of this magnificent sport. Players would much rather play in Origin than for their country, they all say that, and if they don’t, they are lying. Origin is one thing that other powerhouse Australian Sports, such as AFL and Rugby Union, are jealous of. One of Rugby League’s greatest attributes is its product; Origin intensifies every element of the game. If you are such an adamant League supporter, what’s not to like!?
Compared to a club match, each hit is more severe, the speed of the game is enhanced, every pass more important, and all kicks more significant. One misread in defense, one miscommunication on offense, or just one untimely error can gift the opposition a game, series, or even be the beginning of a dynasty.
The crowds at Origin affairs are by far the greatest I’ve ever encountered. At Suncorp Stadium, Game III from the 2009 Origin series was by far the loudest and most passionate crowd I’ve ever been a part of. This game defines what State of Origin is all about. Queensland had already wrapped up the series winning Game I (28-18) and Game II (14-24). Yet, both teams oozed more desire, determination, and sentiment than any match that series. Game III exploded in the last five minutes as Brett White and Steve Price exchanged blows, with Price coming off second best.
This infuriated the Maroon squad who launched an aerial attack off the ensuing penalty (direct orders from their captain, Darren ‘The Oracle’ Lockyer). The purpose of the bomb was to purely give NSW the ball so they could try and inflict as much pain as possible in the dying seconds.
The fact that the crowd and each team were beaming with that much passion and hunger in the 79th minutes of dead rubber Game III was truly an amazing event to witness. (Massive shout out to Kurt Gidley for taking that bomb. To this day that is one of the greatest displays of bravery I’ve ever seen in Origin. It took a bucket full of balls.)
This type of play has been the backbone of the Origin since it began.
These clowns that believe State of Origin is inconvenient, or suggest an international Rugby League match is greater to watch, are clearly on drugs. It’s about as enjoyable as watching two Australian teams play against each other in the Super 15. If Origin causes such a problem for club teams, minus the salary cap breach, how have the Storm been in five grand finals since the Maroons’ started their reign of terror in 2006? Especially if three to six of their best players are constantly being selected. How did they win last season? I’m not saying it doesn’t have an impact on a team. I’m a Broncos fan and traditional we have numerous players on Origin duty, hence why we have a nickname for our side during the Origin period, the ‘Baby Broncos’. But I wouldn’t change that for the world! No genuine fan of the game would refer to the State of Origin as an “inconvenience”.
With Game I a week out, it’s about now that all the banter begins. We place bets with all our NSW friends (or vice versa), we take in every bit of Origin media we come across, plus we plan for where and how we will watch the Origin next week.
My sleeping patterns become strange, almost like there is a full moon every night. Butterflies come and go in my stomach when I contemplate the outcome of Game I, and they get more intense each day we get closer. State of Origin is a unique game. It’s absolutely astonishing that so much passion, animosity, and competitiveness can be derived from just two states.
The brilliant thing about League is that the side that looks better on paper doesn’t necessarily win. Look at the Tigers vs. Cowboys on the weekend. The Tigers have seven starting players injured and still beat a Cowboys side with an impressive line-up. No matter what team takes the field, anything can happen.
Origin boils down to who wants it more. Which side will band together. Who will keep their head? Which teams’ determination will shine through?
Will QLD continue their dominance? Will someone break the 42-second try scoring record set by Robbie Ross? Will NSW win their 13th series or will QLD take out their 20th?
In excitement, I sweat in my sleep the days leading up to each Origin. I will have a few restless nights, and more than likely I will have lost my voice before each Origin kicks off. It’s Origin and I fucking love it!
So why would I sacrifice Easter, Christmas, and my birthday each year for three State of Origin games? Simply because I can’t remember the last time either of those three days had that effect on my body.
State of Origin isn’t defined by numbers, nor by statistics, but by winning plays and shear toughness. The stage is set for a stellar series, lets hope it delivers, again.