Another State of Origin has ended. Mate against mate. State against state. The jewel in the crown of the National Rugby League competition. While everyone gets swept up in the Queensland versus New South Wales rivalry very few are fully aware of the true foundations of this sporting event. That’s right. State of Origin has always been an exhibition game put on by the mighty Canberra Raiders and then marketed to the two biggest rugby league playing states. Fast forward 33 years and the marketing team at the Raiders still marvel at the success of this series, initiated in the same year that the Canberra Raiders joined the competition in 1982 (don’t google that). Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look.
All the great origin coaches are Canberra Raiders boys. Let’s start with Queensland. Wayne Bennet coached 21 origin games. Won 4 series. Mal Meninga has coached 30 origin games and won 9 series. What’s that you say? You’re a hater who thinks Mal just lets his assistant coaches do the talking. Well then I guess we can mention Neil Henry’s 4 series victories as an assistant.
While the NSW coaches don’t have the record of Mal and Wayne it’s a legit list. Tim Sheens 1 series. Craig Bellamy, Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daly 3 series a piece. In total that’s 81 games of Canberra coaching radness. Where do you learn to coach origin? That’s right. The school of the Canberra Raiders.
Before Big Mal and Loz were competing coaches they were competing State of Origin captains. Despite being origin greats both were unlucky to only captain 3 series. Mal had to wait during his prime for the representative retirement of Wally Lewis while Laurie Daley’s reign as captain was cut short by the Super League war and the subsequent preference of Brad Fittler as captain.
In their 3 years going head to head Laurie won all 3 series. But they were hard fought series and both were amazing Captains who typified what Origin and the Canberra Raiders are about.
Other Notable Origin Greats
Gary Belcher and Brett Mullins – Greatest Queensland and NSW fullbacks respectively. Full stop.
Steve Walters – Greatest Origin Hooker. Impossible to properly compare Cam Smith’s career until he retires 😉
Glenn Lazarus – Greatest Origin prop. The brick with eyes still has the origin niggle in him and will apparently be “Hopoating” the prime minister this week. Yikes!
Ricky Stuart – Greatest Origin half back. If like me you were offended by Andrew Johns swearing on Channel 9 the other week and consequently no longer recognize his representative football career, then Ricky Stuart is the easy choice for greatest ever origin half back. Once again, Thurston has to retire to be considered 😉 Default! Default!
Bradley Clyde – Greatest ever origin lock. Sure the dude was injured a lot, but when he played he was a stone cold rock star.
Every year around origin time we hear:
“Bring back the biff!”
“Piss in your mouth!”
“Drink some Bacardi breezers and give your coach the finger!”
“Put peanut butter on your dick and take photos of a sexual act with your dog!”
When you’re looking for colourful characters to add a bit of interest and controversy there are few teams better than the Canberra Raiders.
Everyone loves the underdog. And Raiders are definitely used to punching above their weight. In 2006 the unheard of Adam Mogg replaced injured star Greg Inglis on the wing in games 2 and 3. Everyone took the piss. That series Mogg was the leading try scorer and very effective defensively helping Queensland win the first of 8 consecutive series victories.
In 1989 the 5”8’ Chicka Ferguson was the oldest origin player ever selected, one week short of his 35th birthday. NSW lost that series 0 – 3. But still. Chicka Ferguson is rad. And so is Adam Mogg.
So there’s the facts. In concluding I thought it might be overkill to list every Canberra Raider who has played origin……. But then I changed my mind. Totally worth it. Check it out.
Edrick Lee (2016 lock)
And even though these boys didn’t get picked while playing for the Raiders. Canberra Raiders for Life!