1987 State of Origin series

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1987 State of Origin series
Won by Queensland colours.svg Queensland (4th series title)
Series margin   2-1
Points scored 72
Attendance 109,091 (ave. 36,364 per match)
Top points scorer(s) New South Wales colours.svgO'Connor Queensland colours.svgShearer (14 points)
Top try scorer(s) Queensland colours.svg Dale Shearer ( 3 tries)

The 1987 State of Origin series saw the 6th time the annual three-match series between the New South Wales and Queensland representative rugby league football teams was contested entirely under 'state of origin' selection rules. It saw the emergence of new faces who would go on to become Origin legends (Queensland's Allan Langer and New South Wales' Andrew Ettingshausen), record crowds for all three matches, and an additional exhibition game played in Long Beach, California (near Los Angeles).

The 1987 series was also the last in which players for Queensland were selected from teams of the Brisbane Rugby League premiership. With the introduction of the Brisbane and Gold Coast clubs to the New South Wales Rugby League premiership the following year, after this series all players in State of Origin would be sourced from NSWRL teams. The final five BRL players selected for Queensland were captain Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Allan Langer, Colin Scott and Greg Conescu, all of whom joined the Brisbane Broncos in 1988.


Games[edit]

Game I[edit]

Mark Murray had missed just one Origin clash in the first five series but when he suffered a serious eye injury that forced his premature retirement in the off-season of 1986, it was widely expected that in-form Eastern Suburbs half-back Laurie Spina would be called into the side after good form for the Roosters and impressing in a Qld selection trial at Lang Park. Instead, and against the wishes of coach Wayne Bennett, the Maroons selectors opted for the jockey-sized Ipswich Jets half-back Allan Langer then just 68 kg and a month shy of his 21st birthday. Spina would never again get the chance to represent Queensland.

June 2, 1987
New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales 20–16 Queensland colours.svg Queensland
(12 - 2 t, 2 g) Michael O'Connor
(4 - 1 t) Mark McGaw
(4 - 1 t) Les Davidson
(Report) Dale Shearer(4 - 1 t)
Tony Currie(4 - 1 t)
Greg Dowling (4 - 1 t)
Gary Belcher (2 - 1 g)
Peter Jackson (2 - 1 g)
Lang Park
Attendance: 33,441
Referee/s: Mick Stone
Man of the Match: Les Davidson


In his first match at Origin level, Langer proved he was a worthy partner for Wally Lewis in the halves and silenced his doubters with a performance that went close to earning him the man-of-the-match award which was won by Blues' second rower Les Davidson.

With only minutes left in the game the scores were locked at 16-all and heading for the first drawn result when referee Mick Stone made one of the best refereeing decisions in Origin history under immense pressure in front of a rabid Queensland crowd. New South Wales' half-back Peter Sterling missed with a field-goal attempt before launching a final backline raid down the right hand side of the field. Cronulla Sharks centre Andrew Ettingshausen, on debut and playing on the wing, sent his club team-mate Mark McGaw away on a long burst down the sideline. Cornered by the converging defence, McGaw threw an inside pass that was knocked down by Queensland but was kicked ahead into the Maroon's in-goal. In a flurry of action that saw arms, legs and bodies flailing in desperation, a hand reached out and grounded the ball just before it skidded dead.

Referee Stone was forced to make a split second pivotal decision without the help of the video referee backup of today's game. Stone ruled that McGaw had touched down centimetres inside the dead-ball line for a try, despite the protests of the Qld players and the 33,000 strong Lang Park crowd yelling for him to call in their favour and prevent the Maroons from losing their 7th game from the past 8 contests. Video replays showed Stone was correct, making his decision one of the best and bravest rulings a referee has made in a big-match situation.

Game II[edit]

June 11, 1987
Queensland colours.svg Queensland 12–6 New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales
(4 - 1 t) Dale Shearer
(4 - 1 t) Greg Dowling
(4 - 1 t) Colin Scott
(Report) Andrew Farrar(4 - 1 t)
Michael O'Connor (2 - 1 g)
Sydney Cricket Ground
Attendance: 42,048
Referee/s: Barry Gomersall
Man of the Match: Peter Sterling

Game II at the Sydney Cricket Ground in front of a record Origin crowd of 42,048 was played in torrential rain. The powerful kicking of Lewis and fullback Gary Belcher was superior to the Blues' who were forced to play much of the match in their own half. Queensland capitalised on New South Wales' errors to emerge with a 12-6 victory. On his 27th birthday, Peter Sterling earned the man-of-the-match award, a rare honour for a player on the losing side.

Before the game, and despite Queensland having won Origin from 1980-84, as New South Wales had won the 1985 and 1986 series and 7 of the previous 8 games going into game 2 (dating back to Game 3 in 1984), and with the addition of the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Seagulls into the Sydney premiership in 1988, some in the Sydney press were wondering about the future of Origin with the general feeling being that the Blues were set to embark on another period of domination like the one that had brought about the Origin concept in the first place. Queensland's gutsy win under pressure and in adverse conditions silenced the critics.

Game III[edit]

July 15, 1987
Queensland colours.svg Queensland 10–8 New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales
(6 - 1 t, 1 g) Dale Shearer
(4 - 1 t) Bob Lindner
(Report) David Boyle (4 - 1 t)
Michael O'Connor (4 - 2 g)
Lang Park
Attendance: 33,602
Referee/s: Barry Gomersall
Man of the Match: Allan Langer

The series decider at Lang Park was a classic Origin knife's-edge encounter that swung from one end of the field to the other. Queensland scored two brilliantly conceived tries to lead 10-8 at halftime and defied the Blues in a scoreless second half of incredible tension. Langer was a triumphant figure for Queensland and in his third Origin was named man of the match after playing the game of his life. After referee Barry Gomersall ruled New South Wales centre Michael O'Connor offside, Queensland winger Dale Shearer kicked a penalty goal, getting the Maroons a two-point win.[1]

Exhibition match[edit]

Later in the season an exhibition match was played at Long Beach, California. The game did not count toward the series, but the match retained State of Origin status and is included in the records and player appearance calculations.

It was billed as an historic occasion for the game and an opportunity for rugby league to grab a foothold in the United States. It was a bold endeavour, but in reality, the match failed to create the barest ripple on America's sporting consciousness. There was minimal press coverage of the game and disputes over whether a 12,500 crowd or less (some estimates say 7,000)[2] were in attendance, with many tickets given away free.

August 6, 1987
New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales 30–18 Queensland colours.svg Queensland
(4 - 1 t) Andrew Ettingshausen
(4 - 1 t) Mark McGaw
(4 - 1 t) Jonathan Docking
(14 - 1t, 5 g)Michael O'Connor
(4 - 1 t) Cliff Lyons
(Report) Tony Currie (4 - 1 t)
Gene Miles (4 - 1 t)
Dale Shearer (10 - 1 t, 3g)
Veterans Memorial Stadium, Long Beach, CA
Attendance: 12,349
Referee/s: Mick Stone
Man of the Match: Peter Sterling

The game itself lacked the passion and intensity of regular State of Origin matches. New South Wales won 30-18 and, notwithstanding an agreement between both the teams that the game would count only towards player statistics, a controversial change-of-heart on the eve of the match has seen it included in formal Origin match stats since. Queensland players have always claimed the match was nothing more than an exhibition, as they had been promised and as the QRL maintained throughout. To this day the Maroons argue that the result should not count in official records.

Teams[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Exhibition*
Fullback Balmain colours.svg Garry Jack Cronulla colours.svg Jonathan Docking
Wing Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Michael O'Connor St. George colours.svg Brian Johnston
Centre Cronulla colours.svg Mark McGaw Parramatta colours.svg Brett Kenny Cronulla colours.svg Mark McGaw
Centre St. George colours.svg Brian Johnston Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Michael O'Connor
Wing Cronulla colours.svg Andrew Ettingshausen Canterbury colours.svg Andrew Farrar Cronulla colours.svg Andrew Ettingshausen
Five-Eighth Parramatta colours.svg Brett Kenny Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Cliff Lyons
Halfback Parramatta colours.svg Peter Sterling Parramatta colours.svg Peter Sterling (c)
Prop South Sydney colours.svg Les Davidson South Sydney colours.svg David Boyle Canterbury colours.svg Peter Tunks
Hooker Panthers colours.svg Royce Simmons
Prop Canterbury colours.svg Pat Jarvis Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Phil Daley
Second Row Canterbury colours.svg Steve Folkes South Sydney colours.svg David Boyle Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Noel Cleal
Second Row Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Noel Cleal South Sydney colours.svg Les Davidson
Lock Balmain colours.svg Wayne Pearce (c) Canterbury colours.svg Paul Langmack
Replacement Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Des Hasler Cronulla colours.svg Mark McGaw Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Des Hasler
Replacement South Sydney colours.svg David Boyle Canterbury colours.svg Paul Langmack Canterbury colours.svg Steve Folkes South Sydney colours.svg David Boyle
Coach Ron Willey

Queensland[edit]

Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Exhibition*
Fullback Canberra colours.svg Gary Belcher
Wing Canterbury colours.svg Tony Currie Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Colin Scott Canterbury colours.svg Tony Currie
Centre Canberra colours.svg Peter Jackson
Centre Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Gene Miles
Wing Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Dale Shearer
Five-Eighth Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Wally Lewis (c)
Halfback Ipswich Colours.svg Allan Langer
Prop Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Greg Dowling
Hooker Redcliffe colours.svg Greg Conescu
Prop North Sydney colours.svg Martin Bella Redcliffe colours.svg Bryan Niebling
Second Row Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Trevor Gillmeister
Second Row Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Paul Vautin
Lock North Sydney colours.svg Ian French Parramatta colours.svg Bob Lindner
Replacement Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Colin Scott Canterbury colours.svg Tony Currie Wynnum-Manly Colours.svg Colin Scott
Replacement Brothers Colours.svg Gary Smith North Sydney colours.svg Ian French
Coach Wayne Bennett

References[edit]

  1. ^ Barrow, Tim (6 July 2011). "State of Origin: The deciders". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Heads, Ian (1988-06-15). "Mayer tries to avert another ARL farce in America". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 51. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 

Sources[edit]

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

External links[edit]