WHAT makes Origin football so great, and so unique, is why we should not be surprised by the result next Wednesday.
Not surprised if fans intimidate the Blues from the time they run out on the field, intimidate the referees and linesmen at a packed Suncorp Stadium.
Don’t be surprised, too, to see few penalties in this decider. And ‘‘Boo a Blue’’ will be so loud, so often, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the little — and indeed crucial decisions — go Queensland’s way.
We shouldn’t be surpised, either, to see intimidation lead to a heavy-handed performance by the Maroons forwards, playing offside in the ruck and getting away with it.
And if someone is called out for a sin-binning. Yep, you guessed it. It won’t be a Queenslander!
Conspiracy theories are just that. Theories. But I do honestly subscribe to the theory that the State of Origin is so very successful because, well, Queensland is winning.
Let’s face it. The State of Origin is all about Queensland, since 1980 when they invented it and won the first five series with the law on their side, courtesy of two very tall policemen in Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga.
‘King’ Wally Lewis held the throne, and big Mal and little Alfie played havoc at old Lang Park, and in Sydney too.
But Queenslanders openly wept for three years when NSW became so dominant (2003-2005), prompting big Mal and other higher entities in the game to question the very future of the Origin series.
Queenslanders, he said, were now losing interest in Origin. And a catastrophe, no doubt, for the game was that even Blues supporters were becoming blase about their team’s success.
A healthy series, simply, had to have the great rivalry restored - and the Maroons winning again. And so it came to be.
A successful formula resulted in a cross-border war breaking out between the states. The Maroons winning march began the next year (2006) and to keep NSW down, the Blues had a ‘‘home’’ game taken away from them every second year - and played in Melbourne!
The problem for NSW coaches and players was the southern capital was also home to four Queenslanders, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and (before he left), Greg Inglis, plying their wares for the Melbourne Storm.
So the Melbourne crowd got behind Queensland, naturally. And NSW continued to lose.
For the head honchos, a losing Blues side is better than a losing Maroons. They know that while NSW is down, the Blues will encourage the mass media in the nation’s biggest city to each year devote their collective strength towards building up that ‘‘get square’’ mentality, in newspapers, television and radio.
The great build-up starts months before Origin I!
The result: record media coverage, record Origin crowds and, more importantly, record television ratings.
It has also done so much more, ensuring this ‘‘war of the states’’ will continue to transcend America’s bloody Civil War, which, when all said and done, only lasted four years.
While the north remains dominant, the south will, each year, do anything to overcome the supremacy. Like the latest re-arming of the ANZUS alliance (and the Maroons will also arm their Kiwi bros).
On Wednesday, James Tamou will again proudly carry his Maori insignia into battle alongside his heroe and NSW captain, Paul Gallen, both wearing Blue.
They’ll instill a group ‘‘hatred’’ in anything Queensland. Big men, but bit parts in a much bigger game.
* Brad Forrest went to Brisbane as The Sun’s bureau chief in 1982 and spent 10 years writing feature articles on Queensland, including the rise and fall of the Bjelke-Petersen government, and the rise of the Brisbane Broncos and the Queensland Maroons.
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