Origin Legends & Masters


Origin Legends
In season 1998, the 'bible' of Rugby League, 'Rugby League Week', conducted a poll to answer the question… 'Who are the four greatest State Of Origin players ever to take the field?' Like RLW's famous 'Immortals' poll of 1982, a panel of experts was assembled to determine that question. From 248 exceptional players, through 51 dramatic games, and across 18 years of blood, sweat and cheers; four players were eventually chosen. Those players - the 'immortals' of Origin football - are,

Brett Kenny & Peter Sterling (New South Wales ) and Mal Meninga & Wally Lewis (Queensland)


Origin Masters
The Queensland Masters of Origin team, was chosen by experts
from the Courier Mail, the Daily Telegraph and Channel 9 and presented
to the crowd at the third State of Origin match at the Sydney Football Stadium in 1998.

New South Wales

1. Garry Jack

2. Eric Grothe                                                                           5. Andrew Ettingshausen

3. Laurie Daley            4. Michael O'Connor

6. Brett Kenny (Origin Legend)

7. Peter Sterling (Origin Legend)

13. Wayne Pearce

11. Noel Cleal              12. Bradley Clyde

8. Glenn Lazarus                  9. Ben Elias            10. Steve Roach



1. Gary Belcher

2. Kerry Boustead                                                                                5. Dale Shearer

3. Gene Miles            4.Mal Meninga (Origin Legend)

6. Wally Lewis (Origin Legend)

7. Allan Langer

13. Bob Lindner

11. Paul Vautin              12. Trevor Gillmeister

8. Greg Dowling                  9. Steve Walters            10. Martin Bella


Greatest Ever Teams Named By Each State
Selected in 2000

New South Wales

1. Garry Jack

2. Eric Grothe                                                                           5. Andrew Ettingshausen

3. Michael Cronin            4. Steve Rogers

6. Brett Kenny

7. Peter Sterling

13. Ray Price (c)

11. Noel Cleal              12. Bradley Clyde

8. Glenn Lazarus                  9. Ben Elias            10. Paul Harragon

Rerserves: Laurie Daley, Michael O'Connor, Brad Fittler, Steve Roach



1. Gary Belcher

2. Kerry Boustead                                                                                5. Wendell Sailor

3. Gene Miles            4.Mal Meninga

6. Wally Lewis

7. Allan Langer

13. Bob Lindner

11. Gary Larson            12. Gorden Tallis

8. Greg Dowling                  9. Steve Walters            10. Arthur Beetson

Reserves: Darren Lockyer, Chris Close, Paul Vautin, Rod Morris.



Roy Masters' greatest Origin teams
June 15, 2005
Sydney Morning Herald

During a quarter of a century of bruising interstate encounters, reputations have been forged, legends have been created. Roy Masters selects the finest players from NSW and Queensland for his greatest Origin teams.

After 25 years of Origin football, with the number of wins recorded by Queensland and NSW almost equal, some vexing questions arise. Who is the better state? Which is the superior era? The 1980s, the 1990s or today?

Could the Blues who are so desperate to level the 2005 series at Telstra Stadium tonight mix it with the 1985 team led by Steve Mortimer? Could the Maroons compete with Wally Lewis's grat Queensland teams?

Today's players, with just three per cent body fat, are quick athletes. Their skin is stretched so tight that if you plucked them with your finger, they'd sound like a harp. They are multi-skilled and versatile, whereas the men who dug the well back in 1980 were specialists on the field and labourers, policemen and shoe salesmen off it.

If we choose a composite team for each state, selecting the best over the quarter-century, it favours the present players. After all, their skills are only weeks old to our recall and, in any case, haven't we as a race improved in most areas? If engineers, doctors and pilots are better, why not footballers?

If we ask ourselves "could Lewis compete with Darren Lockyer or Braith Anasta?", the answer is no. Why not? Because Wally is 45 years of age. But if we allowed our fevered imagination to transport Wally to the present, could he handle it? Of course. Although he sucked on a cigarette before a game and often stood in cover in defence, today there is interchange.

Imagine the roar at Suncorp Stadium, with the Maroons and Blues level and 20 minutes left and Wally waddling back out there. Brisbane would roar and belch and fart all at once, sucking so much air out of the place the NSW players couldn't breathe.

What if we take NSW's two props back to 1980? Jason Ryles can kick tactically, whereas coaches of yesteryear threatened to amputate the legs of forwards who booted the ball. Sure, but could Ryles, educated in an era when nine cameras catch all the illicit action, exist in the 1980 scrum, when players actually loved having blood on their faces?

When the NSW captain in 1980, Tommy Raudonikis, was hit with a full can of beer on the head at Lang Park, blood trickled down into his mouth. "I licked it and said, 'How good is this?'," Tommy recalls.

If we compare composite teams and ask who would win, we must ask "under which rules?". A NSW team with versatile players like Laurie Daley, Andrew Ettingshausen and Brett Kenny in the backs and explosive ones such as Les Boyd in the forwards favours the present.

A Queensland team with giant centres such as Mal Meninga and Gene Miles and grunt forwards like Martin Bella is better suited to the old rules. Maybe that's a reflection of the states. NSW has always been more modern and Queensland more resourceful.

Composite teams based on Origin performances ignore club and international form. Two of my favourite players of the past 25 years - NSW's Brad Fittler and Queensland's Steve Renouf - didn't make the teams. Fittler admits he never played his best football in Origin, and "the Pearl" saved his best for grand finals.

The only way to properly assess the states is to isolate the top three players from each. Queensland's come readily: Lewis, Allan Langer and Meninga. They played more games than any other Maroons and dominated their eras.

NSW's top three? Well, Fittler played more Origin games than any other Blue but would have made my team from the bench. "ET", who played the next-highest number of games, is in mine but others wouldn't agree.

NSW used more players over the quarter-century and it shows. Queensland's heroes made Origin their own.


Fullback Andrew Ettingshausen Versatile player who was the prototype of the modern back, "ET" was chosen for the Blues in three positions - fullback, centre and wing - and played 27 games.

Wing Eric Grothe The personification of power, "Guru" was capable of running from his own in-goal to score a try.

Centre Laurie Daley Another utility back who set up his supports with gift passes and who cover-defended brilliantly.

Centre Chris Johns Born in Queensland, he played for the Broncos but represented NSW nine times and the Maroons respected him every time he touched the ball.

Wing Michael O'Connor "Snoz" moved like a sail of silk billowing in the breeze. Who can forget his touchline conversion from his non-preferred side on full-time to win game two in 1991?

Five-eighth Brett Kenny The only player of the Wally Lewis era who could match wits with the great Maroons pivot. He could slip like liquid through defenders.

Halfback Steve Mortimer The emotional "Turvey" was made for Origin football, with its short duration and high intensity. Captained the Blues to their first series win.

Lock Bradley Clyde The model of the modern-day back-rower, he had a huge work-rate.

Second-rower Les Boyd Intimidated opposition players more than any player in the quarter-century of Origin football. He is reviled by many for breaking Darryl Brohman's jaw at Lang Park but NSW selectors, aware that last-minute withdrawals had weakened their pack, encouraged Boyd to cause mayhem. All arse and elbows, he was as unstoppable as measles.

Second-rower Ben Kennedy Like Boyd, he is an explosive player who can make ground where others fear to tread.

Prop Steve Roach His passionate approach was a perfect complement to Mortimer's leadership, with his fierce eyes burning like headlights. "Blocker" played in the 1986 "Blue-wash".

Hooker Ben Elias The Balmain hooker played in seven series for five wins.

Prop Glenn Lazarus "Lazo" believed he was indispensable for the Blues and convinced his coach as well, with Phil Gould leaving him on the field for 80 minutes in game one of 1996.

Reserves Craig Young, Wayne Pearce, Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler.


Fullback Darren Lockyer He plays as if he has a clock in his head, executing everything with precision timing.

Wing Kerry Boustead His sports-car acceleration led the Maroons to their early victories, helping to elevate the series to its full grandeur.

Centre Mal Meninga So dominant he resembled King Kong against the bi-planes.

Centre Gene Miles Another powerful centre, he was a wrecking ball built from fast-twitch muscle fibre.

Wing Matt Sing A decade of Origin representation is testimony enough to the durability and ability of this twinkle-quick player.

Five-eighth Wally Lewis The architect of the long, spiral pass, "the King" was also a great tactical kicker and an effective run-stopper, even if he rested in cover. The greatest of all Origin leaders.

Halfback Allan Langer The smallest Origin player holds the record for the most Origin appearances (34), testimony to his survival skills in the code's most brutal arena.

Lock Bob Lindner A classic back-rower, he was tougher than portrayed, completing a number of tackles in the 1989 game that Queenslanders still say was their finest, with a broken leg.

Second-rower Gorden Tallis He played with the impact of a broken bottle of XXXX over the head.

Second-rower Bryan Niebling Didn't make Queensland's top 25 players but all of the teammates of "the Horse" would have chosen him.

Prop Martin Bella The ultimate go-forward man, he played in eight series.

Hooker Steve Walters He evokes memories of the old-style hooker who won scrums and games with skilful, tough play.

Prop Shane Webcke An automatic selection in any team of any era.

Reserves Dale Shearer, Greg Dowling, Gary Larsen, Kevin Walters.