1996 State of Origin series
The 1996 State of Origin series saw the 15th time that the annual three-game series between the Queensland and New South Wales representative rugby league football teams was contested entirely under 'state of origin' selection rules. This series saw the return to representative football of players who had signed with Super League, after a court decision had delayed the beginning of Super League until at least 2000. As a result, both teams were back to full strength, and a new record was set for the highest State of Origin crowd at the Sydney Football Stadium.
|1996 State of Origin series|
|Won by||New South Wales (7th title)|
|Series margin||3 - 0|
|Attendance||119,520 (ave. 39,840 per match)|
|Player of the series||Geoff Toovey|
|Top points scorer(s)||Andrew Johns (16)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Brett Mullins (3)|
New South Wales were able to bounce back from the 3 - 0 whitewash of the 1995 Series and win the 1996 series 3 - 0, reversing the result of the previous year. The first send off in Origin history occurred in 1996 and New South Wales made further history as the first side to go through a complete series without a player change.
Monday, 20 May, 1996
|Queensland||6 – 14||New South Wales|
Allan Langer (47') 1
Wayne Bartrim 1/1
|1st: 0 - 10
2nd: 6 - 4
Andrew Ettingshausen (36') 1
Steve Menzies (64') 1
Andrew Johns 3/3
(8' pen, 19' pen, 37')
Rod Wishart 0/1
The Blues came out in the opener at Suncorp Stadium with all guns blazing, as the Maroons were overwhelmed all over the park and went down 14-6. If everything had gone their way though, the Blues would have finished streets ahead.
The decision by the selectors to go in with the 1995 World Cup halfback and hooker combination of Andrew Johns and Geoff Toovey was the spark that ignited the Blues. Up front New South Wales simply out muscled their opponents with Glenn Lazarus putting in an extraordinary performance. Despite the fact unlimited interchange was in force for the first time in Origin, Lazarus stayed on the paddock for the full 80 minutes.
Wendell Sailor was brilliant for the Maroons on debut, their most attacking player, but the partnership of Allan Langer and Jason Smith in the halves didn't work and the Queenslanders' ball control was poor. Tim Brasher, chosen at fullback with Brett Mullins forced to the wing, justified his selection with a brilliant performance, while Paul Harragon was inspirational up front with Lazarus.
Monday, 3 June, 1996
|New South Wales||18 – 6||Queensland|
Brett Mullins (44', 51') 2
Rod Wishart (39') 1
Andrew Johns 3/7
(22' pen, 40', 76' pen)
|1st: 8 - 6
2nd: 10 - 0
Steve Renouf (27') 1
Julian O'Neill 1/1
Steve Walters (25') 1
Craig Greenhill (63') 1
The Blues comfortably wrapped up the series with an 18-6 win in game II at the Sydney Football Stadium, with Laurie Daley and Andrew Ettingshausen demonstrating repeatedly all the skills and speed that stamped them as Origin greats.
The game was marred by the first send-off in State of Origin history when Queensland replacement forward Craig Greenhill was marched for a high tackle on Blues prop Paul Harragon. A specially convened State of Origin judiciary suspended him for four matches.
Blues coach Phil Gould said after the game that New South Wales could make some history of their own by being the first side to go through an entire Origin series unchanged. His prediction proved correct.
Monday, 17 June, 1996
|Queensland||14 – 15||New South Wales|
Mark Coyne (72') 1
Brett Dallas (75') 1
Willie Carne 3/4
(3' pen, 73', 76')
|1st: 2 - 6
2nd: 12 - 9
Andrew Ettingshausen (23') 1
Brett Mullins (45') 1
Rod Wishart 2/2
(46', 52' pen)
Andrew Johns 1/1
Brad Fittler 1/1
Tim Brasher (61') 1
The Blues skipped away to a 15-2 lead halfway through game III and with only eight minutes remaining it appeared all was lost for the Langer-led Queenslanders. Blues captain Brad Fittler had earlier potted a field goal which seemed to be almost an indulgence at the time, though in the end it proved crucial as the Maroons came storming home.
First Mark Coyne managed to somehow produce a try after the ball ricocheted off his boot, then Matt Sing made a break to put speedy winger Brett Dallas over. At 15-14 the Queenslanders suddenly had a full head of steam. With seconds remaining Langer put on a cross-field kick which was pounced on by Coyne. The Suncorp Stadium crowd went into a frenzy thinking that Coyne had pulled off another miracle Origin try but referee David Manson looked to this touch judge who ruled that Coyne had been in front of the kicker.
New South Wales teamsEdit
|Position||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
|Five-Eighth||Brad Fittler (c)|
|Second Row||David Furner|
|Second Row||Dean Pay|
|Position||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
|Fullback||Robbie O'Davis||Wendell Sailor|
|Centre||Matt Sing||Mark Coyne|
|Wing||Wendell Sailor||Matt Sing||Willie Carne|
|Five-Eighth||Jason Smith||Julian O'Neill||Dale Shearer|
|Halfback||Allan Langer||Allan Langer (c)|
|Hooker||Wayne Bartrim||Steve Walters|
|Prop||Gary Larson||Andrew Gee|
|Second Row||Trevor Gillmeister (c)||Gary Larson|
|Second Row||Brad Thorn|
|Interchange||Michael Hancock||Kevin Walters||Matt Sing|
|Interchange||Alan Cann||Jason Smith|
|Interchange||Craig Greenhill||Owen Cunningham|
- 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.
- foxsports.com.au (1 July 2008). "Classic State of Origin IIIs". Fox Sports. Australia: Premier Media Group. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
- Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney