Michael Jennings lifted Josh Mansour’s head, and was rewarded with a kiss.
Mansour sunk to the lowest of State of Origin lows on Wednesday when the NSW winger’s 75th-minute slip gifted Queensland fullback Darius Boyd what looked to be yet another heartbreaking game-winner.
As has often been the case during the Maroons’ decade of dominance, they seemingly found a way to claim victory at the death.
Blues centre Jennings, who himself had to be picked up from a night to forget at Suncorp Stadium in game two, acted quickly to console his former Penrith teammate.
“He felt sick to the stomach and he felt he let the team down,” Jennings said.
“I remember saying to him, `That’s just part of Origin. You ride the highs and you ride the lows.’
“The only thing you can do is put your head up because it doesn’t matter – it’s not just that one point where you make a mistake (when you lose)’.
“In those situations you do need someone there to give you a bit of guidance and it was me.”
However it took just three minutes for Mansour to go from drowning in his own sorrow to being swept up in relief, with Jennings beating five defenders at the death to steal a last-gasp victory.
And the Blues winger was one of the first to celebrate with his centre partner.
“When I scored the try he come over and give me a kiss and he was over the moon,” said Jennings, who is slated to be one of Mansour’s groomsman at his wedding later on in the year.
“But don’t worry, he’s a bad kiss.”
Jennings’ future in the Blues line-up had come under scrutiny after game two, where he came up with two crucial errors, including a fingertip knock-on that denied NSW a potential game-winner.
But the Parramatta centre shrugged off the criticism to play a major role in the Blues’ dead-rubber win, and is now eyeing a leadership role in next year’s series.
With Paul Gallen retiring, and the future of vice-captain Robbie Farah in doubt, Jennings’ 18 Origin jumpers could be the most in the team.
“Having that experience, I can be a calm head to the boys and just a soft voice,” he said.
“I’m not too frantic. I’m not a guy with a lot of words, I just want to do my part for the team. If I can see that’s a role that I can play, then I’ll do it.”