Author(s): Neil Cadigan
In 1980 the State of Origin series was born at Lang Park in front of a crowd of 33000, a hard-fought game in an electrifying atmosphere. Little has changed in three decades, the intensity and determination of the players running onto the field is the stuff from legends. Only now it has become Australia’s premier sporting event, attracting a huge television audience and constantly sells out the stadium. 167 players have put on the Maroon jersey, 237 for the Blues. After 30 years of competition, of pride representing their state, there is little more memorable than these clashes and the iconic memories taken from the epic victories: Steve Mortimer on his knees, punching the ground in relief in the 1985 NSW series win. Allan Langer’s debut, pairing with the great Wally Lewis in the halves, against the dominating NSW combination of Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny. Mark Geyer’s push and shove with Lewis in 1991 after the two teams brawl because of Geyer’s haymaker in the tackle on Steve Walters. Cadigan interviews the highest profile players of the game, including Allan Langer, Mal Meninga, Wally Lewis, Gorden Tallis, Andrew Johns, Brad Fitler and Peter Sterling amongst others, discovering what Origin means to them, how it has changed from ‘their day’ and what they think of their old foes and the biff.
Neil Cadigan is a former editor of BIG LEAGUE magazine and NSW editor of RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK. He is a winner of the Australian Sports Writer of the Year award and author of the bestselling Andrew Johns’ biography THE TWO OF ME. This is his