BY CURTIS WOODWARD
It is the year 2000 and Queensland captain Gorden Tallis doesn’t want to play Game III. The Maroons are already down 2-0 and facing an embarrassing whitewash and the broken raging bull has seen enough.
Tallis even told the media they shouldn’t play the third match such was the lack of confidence in the QLD team. No more. Shut it down. Forget it.
The Maroons were thrashed 56-16.
It wasn’t the score that bit Tallis eventually. It was the way they were beaten. The way the Blues were so far superior that everything QLD did looked bush league. QLD had the spirit but they just didn’t have the ammunition. New South Wales had the best players, strike guns in all positions. It was a precision demolition and the Maroons had no answer.
QLD had Julian O’Neill on the bench, NSW had Andrew Johns. Ben Ikin was QLD’s clucky five-eigth while the Blues had Brad Fittler. Adrian Lam toiled at half for the Maroons, Kimmorley destroyed for the Blues. And so it goes and goes.
But then something happened in Game III.
Blind arrogance replaced joy.
Late in the match with the avalanche already toppling QLD, the Blues scored another try and winked at each other. It was time for a post-try celebration. At that moment it was nothing. In retrospect it built QLD back up.
Today, the likes of Ryan Girdler and Bryan Fletcher laugh about it through the media. Of course you would. It’s a funny moment. If only it wasn’t Origin. If only it was as an All Stars game or the Auckland Nines.
“That was the night NSW did those post-try celebrations throwing hand grenades. It’s probably the best thing the Blues have ever done for Queensland because we’ve never forgotten about it,” Tallis wrote for Fox Sports in 2014.
Blues coach Fittler played that night back in 2000 – in fact, he was part of the celebration.
At that moment, the Blues didn’t just spit on the Queenslanders. They spat on Steve Mortimer, Tommy Raudonikis, Laurie Daley, Wayne Peace and all those that came before.
The Maroons returned twelve months later and hollowed out the Blues like they were nothing. You don’t poke the QLD bear. And here is the problem.
NSW has won the 2018 series and done it with style. Thus far.
Kevin Walters and his team is hurting.
But they are not playing for themselves.
This is what NSW forgets. The Blues, in any given year, seem to think they’re playing for themselves or their own legacy. Nobody cares if this Blues team wins the series if they don’t win another or another. They will remember how they do or don’t respect QLD in Game III.
Never forget Game IIII, 2000.
Fittler’s baby Blues have been awesome. But we all agree there are some “characters”. Guys that think Game III means nothing. The moment they play to the QLD crowd or try embarrass the Maroons at all is the moment they lose the 2019 series.
Give ‘em nothing.
Beat ‘em and beat ‘em good.
But leave the bullshit for another time.
Just ask your coach.
Join Th81stMinute Call Team with Curtis Woodward and the team this Saturday for Magpies versus Mounties – live on steelesports.com.au from 12.30pm