It was the year 2000 and I was just starting out in Uni at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNG UNITECH). It was the year I was introduced to Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL). Right from the start, I chose the Brisbane Broncos as my team of favor, mainly because they had a black man playing for them. His name was Wendell Sailor, from the Torres Straight Islands. Wendell, sadly, left the Broncos the next year to join the Queensland Reds, playing rugby union. He left me hooked to NRL and the Broncos have been my team to this day.
It was in the same year that I got a taste of the State of Origin series, a rugby league test of guts between two of Australia’s neighboring states. On one side from the South, is the New South Wales Blues (simply known as #Blues) and on the other side, up North, is the Queensland Maroons (#Maroons).
Back in 2000, Wendell Sailor played for the Maroons. My response was to align my support with the Maroons. Regardless of his move to rugby union, my fan support remained with the Broncos and the Maroons. The Maroons lost in 2000, but my support never changed. I was hooked!
The term ‘State of Origin’ reflects how the players are chosen. A player for either team is
chosen based on which of the two sates they played their first senior NRL game in. This system was emplyed from 1980 onwards. Before that, the series was not known as the “State of Origin” since players were selected based on which state their NRL club team was based at. Criterias change though, and since 2012 there have been new criterias – for instance players can now be placed based on which state they were born in.
From 1980 onwards, the state winning most games has been the Maroons. Up to 2013, the Maroons have won 53 games and the Blues 44. That is 20 years to 12 with two draws – one in 1999 and the other in 2002. At the start of the 2014 series, the Blues have upped their game wins to 45.
Each year Australians and friends from overseas look forward to the State of Origin. In one year, there are three games played for the Origin series. There are two test matches and one final. The first test match takes place in May. After the first game, there is a spell for three weeks while the players return to fulfill their NRL club responsibilities.
After three weeks, the second test match is played. The final match takes place three weeks after the second test. To win the series, one team has to win two games. The State of Origin is known to be Australia’s greatest sports rivalry.
2014’s first test match was the 100th game of the series. (I was introduced to the series druing the 58th game.) The 100th game was played on May 28th, 2014 at the Suncorp Stadium, on Maroons homeground – at Milton, Brisbane, Queensland. The crowd was numbered at 52,111 – the majority of them wearing the Maroons’ signature XXXX jersey.
Diehard fan of the Maroons as I am, and regardless of my obvious dislike for Jarryd Hayne, I put my hat off to Jarryd for an outstanding play during the 100th game. He might have set out to beat the Maroons on homeground, but he surely made a personal mark on NRL history.
The Maroons’ dominance of the series is in question because of this man. He is a force to reckon with. Darius Boyd of the Maroons won the title of top try scorer during the 2013 Origin series, but he just might lose that title to Jarryd if he doesn’t play harder with the rest of the Maroons team in the 101st test match.
The Maroons have been winning for the past 8 years, starting from 2006. They know they have to put up a fight on Blues homeground if they have to win game 2 of this year’s series. This will be a nerve-racking game 2 that will see injuries, guts, and more injuries – all in the name of the game.
I am looking forward to a win by the Maroons in the second game. When that happens, the rivalry that will ensure will be something of a legend. The support, the nerves, the sheer thrill of grit coupled with the fit of anticipation will surpass that of known history.
Until that time comes, I am all for a Maroons win in game 2 of the State of Origin 2014.