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The 1985 State of Origin series was the fourth time the annual three-match series between New South Wales and Queensland was contested entirely under 'state of origin' selection rules. It was the year that New South Wales finally ended Queensland's dominance which had arisen with the State of Origin concept.

1985 State of Origin series
Won byNew South Wales colours.svg New South Wales (1st title)
Series margin2-1
Points scored81
Attendance90,937 (ave. 30,312 per match)
Top points scorer(s)New South Wales colours.svg Michael O'Connor (29)
Top try scorer(s)New South Wales colours.svg Michael O'Connor (2)
Queensland colours.svg Dale Shearer (2)



Game IEdit

Queensland centre Gene Miles was ruled out of State of Origin due to a knee injury.[1]

Tuesday, 28 May 1985[2]
  New South Wales 18–2   Queensland
(18 - 2 t, 5g) Michael O'Connor (Report) Mal Meninga (2 - 1 g)
Lang Park, Brisbane, Queensland
Attendance: 33,011
Referee: Kelvin Roberts
Man of the Match: Peter Wynn

Heavy rain confronted the players at Lang Park when the teams took the field for the opening match of the series, and it was thought players new to Origin football such as Michael O'Connor might struggle to cope with the conditions. However the former Wallaby displayed nerves of steel to complete one of Origin's most memorable debuts scoring two tries and kicking five goals to finish with all 18 of the Blue's points.

The relentless Blues defence led by Steve Roach, Pat Jarvis and Peter Wynn continually repelled the Maroons and helped keep the Blues line intact for the first time at Origin level. Five-eighth Brett Kenny earned wide praise for his efforts opposite Wally Lewis who was subjected to merciless pressure for almost the entire match. New coach Terry Fearnley and his captain Steve Mortimer had plotted for months to uncover a secret factor that would bring an end to the Maroons' Origin stranglehold. The strategy was to heap pressure on Lewis, Queensland's five-eighth and playmaker and the Blues carried out the plan perfectly.

Game IIEdit

Tuesday, 11 June 1985[3]
  New South Wales 21–14   Queensland
(4 - 1 t) Chris Mortimer
(4 - 1 t) Benny Elias
(4 - 1 t) Brett Kenny
(9 - 4 g, 1 fg) Michael O'Connor
(Report) Bob Lindner(4 - 1 t)
Ian French (4 - 1 t)
Mal Meninga (6 - 3 g)
Sydney Cricket Ground
Attendance: 39,068
Referee: Barry Gomersall
Man of the Match: Wally Lewis

With history possibly in the making a large New South Wales home crowd turned out in wet conditions at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The match was played on a knife's edge when after the Blues had taken a 12-0 lead with two tries after only 16 minutes, Queensland struck back in typical style and took a 14-12 lead despite having lost Bob Lindner and Colin Scott with serious injuries.

The New South Wales forwards relentlessly hurled themselves at the Queensland defence until cracks slowly began to appear. A penalty goal and then a sharply taken field goal by O'Connor gave the Blues a 15-14 lead and then when Lewis attempted to level the scores with his own field goal attempt eight minutes from the end, Mortimer flew from the ruck to charge down the kick.

It was the inspiration the Blues needed and when five-eighth Brett Kenny dashed over for the decisive try a minute from full-time, it sparked scenes of jubilation among the New South Wales players. Broadcast images that now form part of Origin folklore captured a rapturous Mortimer chaired from the field and then falling to the ground full of emotion and pride in the Blues' historic first series victory.[4]

Game IIIEdit

Tuesday, 23 July 1985[5]
  Queensland 20–6   New South Wales
(8 - 2 t ) Dale Shearer
(4 - 1 t) John Ribot
(4 - 1 t) Ian French
(4 - 2 g) Mal Meninga
(Report) Steve Ella (4 - 1 t)
Michael O'Connor (2 - 1 g)
Lang Park
Attendance: 18,825
Referee: Barry Gomersall
Man of the Match: Wally Fullerton Smith

Queensland took the field in Game III determined to avoid a whitewash but also smarting from a national selection controversy. Blues coach Terry Fearnley was also the Australian national coach and the match was played after the Australia v New Zealand Test series that year. Fearnley had dropped four players, all of them Maroons after the second Test. The Kiwis went on to win the third test 18-0, the first time the Australian's had been held scoreless in a test match since 1956.

Queensland came out breathing fire and as the score mounted, late in the game Maroons forward Greg Dowling, one of the players axed by Fearnley, left the field replaced and stopped by the Blues bench to give Fearnley a passionate serve and tirade of abuse. Following this event ARL officials would legislate that the national coach never be a serving Origin coach to avoid the possibility of such embarrassing scenes or the potential for claims of bias.[6]


New South WalesEdit

Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Fullback   Garry Jack
Wing   Eric Grothe, Sr.
Centre   Michael O'Connor
Centre   Chris Mortimer
Wing   John Ferguson
Five-Eighth   Brett Kenny
Halfback   Steve Mortimer (c)   Des Hasler
Prop   Steve Roach
Hooker   Ben Elias
Prop   Pat Jarvis
Second Row   Noel Cleal   David Brooks
Second Row   Peter Wynn
Lock   Wayne Pearce   Wayne Pearce (c)
Replacement   Steve Ella
Replacement   Peter Tunks   Tony Rampling
Coach   Terry Fearnley


Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Fullback   Colin Scott
Wing   John Ribot
Centre   Mal Meninga
Centre   Chris Close
Wing   Dale Shearer
Five-Eighth   Wally Lewis (c)
Halfback   Mark Murray
Prop   Greg Dowling
Hooker   Greg Conescu
Prop   Dave Brown
Second Row   Paul Vautin   Ian French
Second Row   Paul McCabe   Wally Fullerton-Smith
Lock   Bob Lindner   Paul Vautin
Replacement   Brett French   Tony Currie
Replacement   Ian French   Cavill Heugh
Coach   Des Morris

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gallaway, Jack (2003). Origin: Rugby league's greatest contest 1980 - 2002. University of Queensland Press. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-7022-3383-8.
  2. ^ 1985 Game 1 at
  3. ^ 1985 Game 2 at
  4. ^ Prichard, Greg (15 June 2010). "Scandals, losing streaks, injuries but there's never been a lost cause". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. ^ 1985 Game 3 at
  6. ^ Steve Ricketts; Barry Dick; Paul Malone (23 May 2012). "The 30 greatest controversies in 30 years of State of Origin series". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 26 May 2012.


  • Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney

External linksEdit