When you think of the most influential figures in State of Origin history, you naturally think of Queenslanders. Men like Wally Lewis, Senator Ron McAuliffe and Arthur Beetson. People who defied the odds and spilt blood for their state.
It was apparently a New South Welshmen’s God-given right to win the annual series. Up until 1980, this was generally the case. But when Queenslander’s were finally allowed to return home and represent their people, everything changed. The Queenslanders started winning.
What people may forget is, the Maroons won the first five Origin series. The Blues had no answer to the battle-hardened Queenslanders.
Tom Raudonikis, Steve Rogers, Max Krillich and Ray Price all skippered New South Wales in this period and all of them failed. Let me repeat those names again. Raudonikis, Rogers, Krillich and Price.
The Maroons had a nucleus of superstars that never wavered from their job. While the Blues continually chopped and changed their side, Queensland stuck solid. Off course they would, they were winning. Chris Close, Mal Meninga, Gene Miles and Lewis were all mainstays and all were stars.
It vaguely rings a bell doesn’t it?
It was 1985 and Queensland were dominant. The Blues were still without a series win.
But in the shadows of legends past stands Steve Mortimer. The first man to lead the New South Wales Blues to State of Origin glory.
If any man knows how the Blues can beat Queensland when the rest of the world says they cant, its Mortimer.
“The most important thing for our 17 players is they have to get to know each other” Mortimer told The Australian.
“They’ve got to find their humility, start to care for one another and work as one. Then you’ll do anything for each other.
“Back in my time, there were a few players who couldn’t stand me. They thought I was a smartarse or whatever, but we sat down and had a big chat. All of a sudden we got to know each other and what the purpose was, and then we worked closer together.
“We became that close we were impregnable, and we were up against a team that included Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Mal Meninga. We really had great affection and respect for each other before we went into that game.”
And isn’t that the underlying problem that the Blues have had?
Queensland sure do have an unbelievable side, but what have they really had to play against? A Blues side that doesn’t know or care about each other.
If these Blues believe, they’re one step closer to that elusive dream. The one Mortimer realised for us all way back in 1985.
THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON FOOTYSOCIAL.COM.AU