Cordner's Selfless Act To Own Loss
A leader's true qualities become most visible when the pain of defeat is still raw and by speaking when he wasn't spoken to on Wednesday night Boyd Cordner took the Blues' Game Three loss and made it his own.
With speculation growing louder that this will be Laurie Daley's final series as coach of New South Wales, the question was put to him as to whose shoulders the responsibility for the loss should fall on.
As Daley moved to defend the 17-man playing group that he had shepherded through this Holden State of Origin Series by accepting the entirety of the blame himself, Cordner spoke up for the first time in the post-match press conference to stand in front of the bullet.
Magnanimous in defeat with a speech during the on-field presentation that oozed class that an entire state should get behind, Cordner refused to allow Daley to be held responsible for a fourth series defeat in five years in charge.
"I'll step in there. I reckon it's the players," said Cordner, who is generally much more comfortable running tough lines against monster back-rowers than he is in front of a microphone.
"All we have to worry about is turning up and training. We've got a game-plan and a structure to stick to and Laurie and the coaching staff have been nothing but great every time I've been wearing a Blue jersey, especially this series.
"We had the same team all the way through the series and we prepared really well every game, especially this game because our training this time we didn't have to learn anything new because we had the same players.
"It falls back on myself being the captain and the playing group as well.
"We played really well Game One and most of Game Two; it was really disappointing how that ended. We come up here tonight and we didn't start the game off how we planned.
"That doesn't come back on the coaches, that's the players. I'll put my hand up there."
If Daley does step aside, when the dust settles the next coach in line need look no further than Cordner for the embodiment of the players they will need to break a Queensland stranglehold that has been loosened only once in the past 12 years.
It's an extraordinary period of dominance in a rivalry that had never seen a team dominate for more than three years in a row for the first 25 years, and given the confidence the young Maroons will take from this year that dominance shows no signs of abating.
Queensland has developed this superiority on a selection policy not of picking the best individuals but the best teammates.
They want to know that when a game is in the balance and they are struggling to gain the ascendancy the 16 other players in the squad will fight just as hard as they will to turn the tide.
You can never question the effort of any player that graces the Origin arena but if it is not done as a collective it can be very easily misdirected and energy soon degenerates into panic.
Players such as Jake Trbojevic, Josh Jackson, Wade Graham and Jack Bird will be willing allies to Cordner for the next five years at least and can develop a dependability that will stand up in the harsh glare of Origin's spotlight.
The challenge for the New South Wales coach in 2018 will be finding the formula for the right players to put around them.
This article first appeared on NRL.com