History: Queensland’s other great opponent
Over the last eight years, we’ve seen this remarkable Queensland side overcome everything that’s been thrown at them, including some pretty fantastic Blues sides that don’t maybe get the recognition they deserve simply because the Maroons were just that little bit better.
However, for the Maroons to rebound from their Game One loss and go on to a ninth straight series win, they’ll need to overcome not only a desperate New South Wales side but also 20 years of Origin history. That is how long it has been since a side has won the series after losing Game One on their home turf, with New South Wales on that occasion prevailing at the MCG and then Suncorp Stadium after Queensland won the opener at the Sydney Football Stadium courtesy of Mark Coyne’s infamous ‘miracle’ try.
In the intervening years, Origin openers have been won by the visiting side six times, and on each occasion that side has gone on to win the series. If one were to include Melbourne as an away venue, that number becomes eight. That is a daunting figure for the Queenslanders, and proves just how priceless of a win that was for New South Wales.
To add further weight to the task Queensland faces, they have only accomplished this feat twice, the last occasion being way back in 1987. Masterminded by Wayne Bennett the 1987 squad overcame a heartbreaking loss at Lang Park in Game One that was decided by a controversial but ultimately fair try to Blues centre Mark McGaw in the dying stages, with a gutsy win at the SCG in Game Two preceding a nerve-wracking 10-8 victory at Lang Park, where the depleted Maroons somehow held the Blues scoreless in the second half.
While Queenslanders will no doubt be hoping the Maroons can channel the spirit of ’87 over the remainder of this year’s series, there is a distinct difference between the backgrounds of the two squads. The 1987 side came into Game Two having lost two straight series and seven of their previous eight matches. It was the first time a Queensland Origin side had found itself under true pressure and ultimately they thrived. This time around, they have eight years of dominance under their belts and harnessing the same level of hunger and desire may not be as easy as it was at a time when many were questioning the validity of the Origin concept.
Of course, there’s only one stat that Queensland will be worrying about; that being that this series is only one game old. All they need to do in Sydney is win and it will be Advantage: Queensland when we return to Suncorp Stadium for Game Three. Given what the squad has accomplished over the last eight years you’d be a fool to write them off, and even though the weight of history is well and truly against them, if anyone can overcome it, this is that team.