A small but hugely significant part of State of Origin history is on NSW’s side as they attempt to achieve the near-impossible – winning the interstate series from a game down.
They say those who ignore history are deemed to repeat it, but what about Blues coach Laurie Daley, who could be forgiven for harking bark to past NSW glories, as the Blues begin preparations at their Coffs Harbour base on Wednesday for game two at the MCG next week.
Only twice in 33 years since Origin became a best-of-three series in 1982, have the Blues fought their way back to win the series after suffering an opening-match defeat.
The last time they managed the feat was when rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns and coach Ricky Stuart engineered one of the great Blues’ comebacks in the 2005 series.
But the first time the Blues clawed their way back from a game one setback was in 1994.
After losing the opener in Sydney, they were asked to travel to Melbourne to rescue the series, before claiming the decider in Brisbane, against a side skippered by a figure who had already become a familiar foe for Daley, current Maroons coach Mal Meninga.
Back then, Blues captain Daley was forced to rally his heartbroken troops after they lost Origin I 16-12 on the back of the Maroons’ famous last-minute miracle try to Mark Coyne.
Origin then moved to the MCG, where the Blues swept Queensland aside 14-0 before a record rugby league crowd to force a deciding game.
NSW had never before won a series decider in Brisbane, but on the back of a man-of-the match performance from Ben Elias, the Blues prevailed, winning the Lang Park clash 27-12 to rewrite the history books.
Of course history is also against Daley’s Blues, who lost last month’s opener 11-10 in Sydney.
In 24 of the 33 series, the state that has won Origin I has gone on to win the series.
But the MCG, where NSW have won two of the three Origin matches played, represents its own challenges and according to back-rower Ryan Hoffman, who spent 11 seasons with the Melbourne Storm, a chance for the Blues to write their own page into interstate folklore.
“To play at the MCG will be something really special,” Hoffman said.
“They only let the really big games be played at the MCG, it is a very special ground and I never thought I would get the opportunity (to play there).
“I know a lot of the other (NSW) blokes feel the same and we just have to make the most of it.
“The series is on the line and we have to do all we can. It is shaping up to be a great occasion.”
ORIGIN MATCHES IN MELBOURNE:
Game two, 1990, NSW 12 QLD 6 at Olympic Park
Game two 1994, NSW 14 QLD 0 at MCG.
Game two 1995, QLD 20 NSW 12 at MCG
Game two 1997, NSW 15 QLD 14 at MCG
Game two 2006, QLD 16 NSW 14 at Docklands Stadium
Game one 2009 QLD 28 NSW 18 at Docklands Stadium
Games one 2012, QLD 18 NSW 10 at Docklands Stadium
Overall: Played 7 QLD won 4, NSW won 3.