State of Origin. The biggest rivalry in rugby league. The largest event on the NRL calendar. An exhibition of state pride and bragging rights.
Since its inception in 1980, each state has enjoyed periods of dominance. An era they can call their own. Queensland enjoyed the longest stretch of dominance from 2006-2013.
Across the past 40 years, both states have had strong dynasties, generally lasting three years before the Origin cycle hits and the enemy rises from the ashes to stake their claim.
Queensland established its dominance early with NSW not experiencing its first series win until 1985. 1980 and 1981 are not counted in the record books as State of Origin series though, as only one match in each year was played under Origin selection criteria, with the other two played under residency rules.
From 1982-1984 it was the Wally Lewis led Queensland dominating a NSW team that despite having a fairly impressive roster, was being outplayed. That being said, each series finished 2-1 Queensland, indicating NSW did have a way through the Maroons.
Queensland’s grip was finally broken in 1985 and scenes of Steve Mortimer collapsing to the turf following the Blues’ historic win now etched into the history books. Interestingly enough, in 1986 the Blues would complete the first clean sweep in Origin history, taking the series 3-0.
The Maroons wouldn’t be allowing the Blues a threepeat though, with Queensland order restored in 1987.
Queensland would then go on an unprecedented winning run, collecting eight consecutive victories from game two of the 1987 series until the end of 1989.
1989 was a tough series for the Blues with coach Jack Gibson making his representative debut while overseeing a squad severely lacking in Origin experienced following the retirements of the likes of Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and Wayne Pearce from representative football.
The seeds for future Blues dominance would be sewn here as Gibson handed debuts to the likes of Laurie Daley and Brad Clyde.
There was a false Blues dawn in 1990 after they won that series but dropped the 1991 edition. However, with an experienced group of State of Origin players and the coaching debut of Phil Gould, 1992 signalled the start of Blues dominance.
With no Wally Lewis for the Maroons to call on, NSW claimed all three series by a 2-1 margin.
And despite 1990 being a false dawn, the Blues would lose only 4 of 16 series from 1990-2005, with Queensland managing to draw two series to retain the shield on two separate occasions.
An unlikely 1995 series win by Queensland prevented a six peat for the Blues as the famous Neville Nobodies coached by Paul Vautin upset their more fancied Blues opponents.
The Blues enjoyed their next threepeat towards the end of the golden generation which had debuted through the 1990s.
In 2003 Andrew Johns put on perhaps his greatest overall series to that point of his career, leading the Blues to a 2-1 series win.
The following year Phil Gould managed to coax Brad Fittler out of representative retirement as the Blues faced a halves injury crisis. 2004 is also famous for a Shaun Timmins field goal that won game one of the series.
In 2005, Gould once again lured a legend from retirement, this time managing to drag Andrew Johns back into the Origin arena despite Joey hardly playing due to injury.
Johns put on a masterclass in games two and three of the series to lead NSW to one of the most memorable series victories in history and the last for nearly a decade.
The Maroons then set the record for eight consecutive series wins. Many of the nucleus players that would feature had the misfortune of facing the 2004 and 2005 Blues and used it as a motivation to make their own history.
Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis all set about etching Queensland’s name at the top of the tree.
Such a collection of players had never been seen before in rugby league and they tightened Queensland’s iron grip on the shield.
NSW desperately searched for answers, blooding and casting aside countless halfbacks because they weren’t Andrew Johns as they endured series defeat after series defeat.
The drought would eventually be broken by a Jarryd Hayne-led Blues team in 2014 which secured the shield in game two of that series at Stadium Australia.
Normal service quickly resumed with the Maroons waltzing to another three consecutive series wins to round out the most dominant Origin period in history.
The retirements of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith eventually saw the two sides enter some form of equal footing once again.