'As good as I have seen': Queensland spirit to the fore

After overseeing a win for the ages in his first Origin series as coach, Billy Slater confirmed what nearly anyone who witnessed the brutal 22-12 triumph was thinking.

"That is as good a Queensland victory as I have ever seen," Slater said. "I don’t think I’ve been any prouder of a team I’ve been involved in.”

Slater played 31 Origins from 2004 to 2018 and was a key member of the most dominant team in the 42 years since the concept began, so he knows only too well the story of Queensland's famous spirt inspiring the underdog Maroons to victory against all odds.

However, there has never been a plot quite like the one at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.

First, the Maroons are rocked by the loss of superstar playmaker Cameron Munster and rookie winger Murray Taulagi due to COVID.

Then they are forced to play 76 minutes with 15 players after Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins were forced out of the game with head knocks in a no holds barred opening to the match.

If this wasn't Queensland’s greatest Origin win, it was at least on par with 1995 when Paul Vautin's underdogs achieved a series clean sweep, the 2011 decider in which Johnathan Thurston attended the presentation in a wheelchair and 2020's victory by the so-called worst Maroons team ever.

Only the 16-12 triumph in 1989 in which the Maroons finished with 12 players after serious injuries to Vautin, Allan Langer, Mal Meninga, Michael Hancock and Bob Lindner may rank higher.

“There is a lot of history that has gone before us and we unpacked a lot of that this week, and we just knew that based on all of those Queensland moments it was our turn to produce one," Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans said.

The Queensland halfback was in tears at fulltime at the enormity of what his side had achieved, telling Channel Nine:  “We did it again”.

The Blues were poised to write their names into Origin history by becoming just the third NSW team to win a series decider at Suncorp – and the first since 1994 to do so after losing the opening game in Sydney and winning the remaining two matches away from home.

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Source: NRL.com

Brad Walter NRL Senior Reporter