The Real Meaning of Origin

Filed in Other by on December 9, 2010

Steve Turner, in what history will one day tell us was his one and only State of Origin match, was the real meaning of Origin II. And in essence, he was the real meaning of Origin football. From the laughable decision to select Turner through to his complete ineptitude in attempting to stop the Queensland backs, Steve Turner was the personification of State of Origin, a breathing example of what Origin is all about.

To this time-crunched and hungover author, at any rate. The tequila flowed freely last night and the flames burned bright and by the time I had put a well-known local accountant though the French doors at a prominent hotel penthouse when a game of late-night nine-iron indoor hockey went the way of a brutal bullfight, the hammer was coming down and the hope of making deadline seemed somewhat misguided.

But I am a professional and when those signing the cheques send word of time, you listen and you listen good.

So here we are…on an ugly Saturday afternoon, a bleary eyed wordsmith attempting to explain the true meaning of Origin. This could be an interesting run and we may never be the same again. Mud sticks and so do literary taunts of public figures.

The legend surrounding Origin is dense and has been carefully constructed for the better part of three decades. It has been a vigilantly raised campaign to build up a game that is essentially an archaic exhibition, providing meaning to the meaningless. State of Origin has had its stature built up and built up and today the games are sold as being the most important of the season. Each and every season, past Origin deeds are remembered and replayed, the likes of Wally and Joey and Alfie and Mal getting bigger and stronger and better with each passing year. We examine how close the numbers match up over nearly three decades, we recall with fondness those last ditch tries and we bay for the bloody brawls of yesterday.

This, of course, is not a bad thing. The winners write history and Origin has proven itself a winner.

The fact, however, remains that the games hold no real meaning to anybody outside of those last remaining state rightists in Northern Queensland. We live in a federation where the idea of statehood holds little relevance outside of the amusement of seeing power-hungry state politicians making scenes at Central Coast restaurants when they don’t get the royal service only they believe they are entitled too. It is a little difficult to get passionate about randomly ascribed borders that work only to increase taxation and the expense of governance while allowing elected officials to play the game of shifting responsibility. I am Australian. I tend not to pay much heed to state identification.

It is also rather hard to get overly excited about a match that can see your star club players get whacked and bruised and tired and hurt, missing crucial club games for what is only an exhibition. It is an enjoyable exhibition and one in which rugby league fans and gamblers and those who dig an event all lap up. But it is still an exhibition and I don’t take much joy from what Origin advocates will highlight as the true meaning of Origin.

No, Origin to me isn’t Wally Lewis. It is Russell Bawden. Wearing the Blue isn’t Andrew Johns. It is Alan Wilson. Great moments aren’t great deeds but awful selection decisions and strange obscurities. It is Ken McGuiness not making the field and John Doyle scoring a try and Jason Taylor miraculously getting picked in two matches. It isn’t that Mark Coyne try. It is that Phil Duke fuck-up.

The real story of Origin is not the players who deserve to be there and who perform great deeds. It is about those on the fringes, the cusp dwellers, those who don’t deserve selection or lucked their way into the game and left not even the palest imprint on the game outside of the occasional nostalgic chuckle. They were there and then they were gone, forgotten before they were known. Their faces are nothing more than a blur, lost in time and mediocrity. They are totally forgettable.

And they are what make State of Origin enjoyable.

As a tribute to these fallen pawns, these strange bit-players in Origin history, we will name the two most forgettable all-time Origin teams. Players will be selected on the criteria of a lack of longevity, undeserved selection, historical failing and personal amusement. In this, our Centenary season where lists are as common as venereal disease in a Filipino brothel, this is the one set of names you don’t want to forget.


The New South Wales Forgettable XVII

1. Jonathan Docking
2. Steve Turner
3. Mark Hughes
4. Alan Wilson
5. Graham Lyons
6. Michael Buettner
7. Jason Taylor
13. Luke O’Donnell
12. Matt Adamson
11. David Brooks
10. Ryan O’Hara
9. David Trewhella
8. Michael Vella

14. Phil Duke
15. Jason Moodie
16. David Hall
17. Craig Hancock

Coach: Tom Raudonikis

The Queensland Forgettable XVII

1. Chris Walker
2. Adrian Brunker
3. Adrian Vowles
4. Shannon Hegarty
5. Stu Kelly
6. Daniel Wagon
7. P.J Marsh
13. Russell Bawden
12. Jacob Lillyman
11. Jeremy Schloss
10. Clinton O’Brien
9. John Doyle
8. Darren Fritz

14. Mike McLean
15. Matthew Scott
16. Craig Teevan
17. Cavill Heugh

Coach: Mark Murray

Referee: Kelvin Jeffes

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.