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2006-2013: Queensland Dynasty

Queensland’s eight-year reign between the 2006 and 2013 series is a period which few Rugby League fans will ever have trouble recalling – and one which skews the states’ overall head-to-head record the way of the Maroons.

On a whole, it was a thoroughly disappointing period for the Blues, who came up against a core group of Queenslanders who were consistent in their performances; while NSW named 57 men to debut in that time, Queensland blooded just 26 previously-uncapped players. NSW also used four different head coaches, compared to just one for their arch rivals: former Maroons captain Mal Meninga.

While State of Origin remained a more closely-fought battle than it might appear over the eight years – NSW won at least one game every year except for 2010, also forcing a decider in five of the eight series – Queensland had a slight edge on every occasion, often winning by narrow margins at the death. All five deciders were decided by 12 or fewer points, with three decided by just a goal or field goal. The history-making run began in heartbreaking fashion in 2006.

Not including the one-off games in 1980 and 1981, neither state had ever won four-straight series as the 2006 contest approached. That remained the goal for NSW, who had won in 2003, 2004 and 2005 thanks largely to the contributions of Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler – neither of whom would continue to take part. The Blues were still captained by Danny Buderus, while Graham Murray was named coach in place of Ricky Stuart, who was recently appointed to the Kangaroos role.

The 2006 series saw a major changing of the guard for Queensland, with Meninga taking over as coach alongside a new-look staff of former Origin players. For Game One, Meninga named seven debutants, including Greg Inglis, Matt Scott, Sam Thaiday and Nate Myles, who would shape the success of Queensland for years to come. The result was initially a poor one for the Maroons; while a memorable Brett Finch field goal sealed a late 17-16 victory, a sub-par first half was a worrying sign for Queensland.

The coaching performances expected of Meninga, however, soon became a reality; Origin II at Suncorp Stadium saw Darren Lockyer lead the Maroons to a resounding 30-6 victory. In a decider at Melbourne’s Telstra Dome, Lockyer was again the man to determine the result for his state, regathering a wayward Brett Hodgson pass and sealing the 16-14 win which would kick off the Maroons’ era of success.

Matt King, Ben Hornby and Steve Menzies reflect on the 2006 series defeat.
Matt King, Ben Hornby and Steve Menzies reflect on the 2006 series defeat. ©Jeff Crow/Action Photographics

In 2007, Queensland once again overcame early adversity to take out the series. After debutant Jarryd Hayne scored on the stroke of half-time in Game One, the Maroons trailed 18-6, but stormed home in the second half to win 25-18. The second game of the series was a more low-scoring affair, but again the Maroons won 10-6 – their first-ever win at Sydney’s Telstra Stadium, and their fourth consecutive victory as they took out the shield once again. A consolation win followed for the Blues in Game Three, as two late tries and debutant Hazem El Masri’s goal-kicking sealed the 18-4 result.

The significant change for NSW came in the form of Craig Bellamy in 2008, with the most recent premiership-winning coach taking charge. His career in the representative arena began promisingly, with the Blues accounting for a poor Maroons side 18-10 in the series opener – but Bellamy’s elation quickly turned to frustration. As they had done two years previously, Queensland responded well to criticism received after the series opener, beating the Blues convincingly to the tune of a 30-0 scoreline. In the series finale – to be NSW captain Danny Buderus’s farewell in the Origin arena – Queensland emerged victorious again, edging out NSW 16-10 and notching up three consecutive series wins.

As had been the focus for NSW ahead of the 2006 series, the Meninga-coached Maroons aimed to secure four-straight series victories in 2009. Bellamy’s Blues, therefore, acted swiftly to prevent that from happening, naming eight debutants for Game One – the equal most in a single game since 1982. Among the first-timers were 18-time centre Michael Jennings and 16-time hooker Robbie Farah, who replaced the retired Buderus.

While controversy surrounded a disallowed Jarryd Hayne try in the series opener at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, Queensland were impressive in a 28-18 victory. A game later, the Blues put forward a subpar performance at ANZ Stadium, losing 24-12 and gifting the Maroons an historic fourth-straight series win. A spiteful series finale followed, with the Blues earning another consolation victory at Suncorp Stadium.

The 2010 series will go down as one of the most disappointing for Blues fans, with the Maroons completing their first and only series whitewash since 1995. It begun with a rain-affected, but high-scoring affair at ANZ Stadium, with Queensland edging the Kurt Gidley-captained New South Welshmen 28-14, before a far more convincing win in Brisbane three weeks later. The closest contest of the series came in Game Three, but the Maroons won again, sealing the clean sweep with a 23-18 scoreline.

Paul Gallen and Greg Bird were two of New South Wales' fiercest competitors between 2006 and 2016, combining for 42 Origin appearances.
Paul Gallen and Greg Bird were two of New South Wales' fiercest competitors between 2006 and 2016, combining for 42 Origin appearances. ©Brett Crockford/Grant Trouville/Action Photographics

With Craig Bellamy completing his time as NSW coach to focus on club commitments, Ricky Stuart returned to the Origin frame – this time without a club role to attend to. His men showed great improvement in 2011, but still could not manage to take out the series; after a late try sealed a 16-12 Queensland win in Game One, NSW won 18-8 at home in Game Two and were more convincingly beaten 34-24 in the decider. It extended the Maroons’ winning run to six years.

The 2012 series would be Stuart’s final year in charge of the Blues, with his side getting closer to victory than they had been in several years. Losing by eight points in the series opener, NSW enjoyed success on their home turf again with a 16-12 victory – before a heart-breaking decider loss in Brisbane. Having fought back to a 20-20 scoreline, the Blues were sunk by a late Cooper Cronk field goal, achieving series win number seven.

Ricky Stuart consoles a devastated Josh Morris after the heartbreaking Game Three defeat in 2012.
Ricky Stuart consoles a devastated Josh Morris after the heartbreaking Game Three defeat in 2012. ©Col Whelan/Action Photographics

After the coaching tenures of Bellamy and Stuart came to an end, yet another former Raider – and former teammate of Queensland coach Meninga – was appointed coach of NSW: Laurie Daley. The 23-time Blues representative had immediate success with new halves pairing James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce, enjoying a 14-6 win at ANZ Stadium, before the Maroons bounced back to take out Game Two 26 points to 6. After the one-point loss in Origin III, 2012, another nail-biter followed in the 2013 decider; the Queenslanders once again managed a tight victory, this time winning 12-10.

It extended Queensland’s streak to eight years and the faith of Blues fans was being tested – but ultimately, their support never wavered. Helped by a growing contingent of Blatchys Blues, ANZ Stadium had hosted crowds in excess of 80,000 for its past four Origin matches; belief in the state remained, with the long-awaited victory set to come a year later.