Criticism of Queensland’s veterans may have planted the seed for another State of Origin dynasty, Maroons great Petero Civoniceva warns.
Coach Mal Meninga hopes his side finally silenced the Dad’s Army jokes after their “extraordinary” series-sealing 52-6 record rout of NSW at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Queensland’s eight-tries-to-one romp sealed their ninth series win in 10 years.
It was a fitting farewell for 33-year-old centre Justin Hodges and made a pretty good 55th birthday present for Meninga who also marked an unprecedented 30th Origin as Maroons mentor.
Civoniceva said on Thursday the barbs aimed at Queensland’s stalwarts ahead of game three reminded him of the sledging his “experienced” Maroons team received in 2006.
Back then Civoniceva was feeling the heat most as a 30-year-old prop.
The response was stunning.
Queensland famously went on to win a record eight straight series.
Civoniceva played another six years of Origin football before retiring in 2012 aged 36.
And he believes the signs were there on Wednesday night that history could repeat.
“Looking back a few years, a few of us senior players were labelled in 2006,” he told AAP.
“We learned as a group how to use that for motivation.
“To prove the doubters wrong, to show the critics out there there was plenty of football left in their legs.
“I reckon these guys have just done the same.”
Civoniceva also believes NSW only have themselves to blame after stoking a fire in the Maroons’ belly.
NSW’s in-your-face approach was led by rookie David Klemmer, ensuring he was public enemy No.1 at Suncorp Stadium.
“No doubt some of the remarks that were made definitely stung,” Civoniceva said.
“There was plenty of motivation for a huge performance but who was ever going to predict this?”
Seven of Queensland’s starting 13 are on the wrong side of 30.
Not that Meninga thought that was relevant.
“They keep pestering with that age thing – it’s not an issue,” Meninga smiled.
“It all came from intent.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a better defensive effort from a Queensland side.”
No prizes for guessing what Meninga wanted on his birthday.
“To have 17 play at the best of their ability for themselves and each other – that’s the best birthday present ever,” Meninga said.
“It’s an extraordinary thing to achieve.”
Lock Corey Parker, 33, claimed the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series.
He did not believe retirement was on anyone else’s radar after Hodges’ farewell.
“We’re not going too bad (for older players),” he said.
“I suppose from the media’s perspective you’ve got to write something.
“That was certainly topical at the time but I’m not sure what you’re going to write now.”
Asked if they had proven a point in game three, captain Cameron Smith said: “I think we were proving a point to ourselves to be honest”.
Hodges was given the honour of kicking the final conversion, denying Johnathan Thurston a shot at equalling the Origin record of 10 goals.
“We are going to miss him,” Meninga said.