Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
In the hours leading up to last night's Origin match, the Maroons received an unexpected "boost" from His Holiness the Dalai Lama who at a press conference in Brisbane donned a Maroons cap and waved a Maroons flag.
The singular lack of success of such high endorsement reminded me of the days when chaplains were a rarity in rugby league clubs and I helped arrange for the Vicar of the Anglican Church adjoining Lang Park to be make Chaplain to the Wests team in the then BRL competition.
When he was asked if he would say a prayer for the team in the dressing room before the grand final, he readily agreed to do so, but prefaced it with the comment - if you are not good enough to beat Easts, then this prayer won't be of much help!
And the team lost, and lost comprehensively!
The simple fact about last night, as it was in the BRL grand final a long time ago, is that the best team won, and won clearly.
That seems to have come as a total surprise to any number of writers in the media today.
But, as readers of this column will know, my view is that the difference between the Maroons and the Blues has for some time been nowhere near as pronounced as the series results might indicate.
The enduring strength of State of Origin is that, over 30 years, it has been a remarkably even contest. Even though the Maroons have won the last five series, the Blues won the three before the Maroons run began.
And the true measurement of how close the teams are is to be found in the actual results, not in series wins.
Last night's result sets the scene for a Suncorp Stadium in three weeks time - with the match to be the final Origin appearance by the Maroons captain, Darren Lockyer.
I have no problem at all with Ricky Stuart's passion. The more the better!
The clubs might have a problem though with his suggestion that Blues players stand down from two rounds and not just one before Origin Three.
I can see where he is coming from, given the heavy injury toll in the premiership this year, but Origin selection really hit a couple of clubs hard - notably the Dragons. There is no way he can enforce it, and the NRL is clearly less than enthusiastic.
But it all adds to the confected drama surrounding State of Origin.
Long may it continue!