1997 State of Origin series

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1997 State of Origin series
Won by New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales (8th title)
Series margin   2-1
Points scored 73
Attendance 86,568 (ave. 28,856 per match)
Top points scorer(s) Queensland colours.svg Julian O'Neill (12)
Top try scorer(s) New South Wales colours.svg Andrew Johns (2)

The 1997 State of Origin series was the 16th year that the annual best-of-three series of interstate rugby league football matches between the Queensland and New South Wales representative teams was contested entirely under 'state of origin' selection rules. Like the 1995 State of Origin series, players from clubs aligned with Super League were not eligible for selection. Gone were established players Laurie Daley, Allan Langer, Ricky Stuart, Wendell Sailor, Glenn Lazarus, Bradley Clyde, Gorden Tallis and Kevin Walters - all representing their respective states in the newly invented Super League Tri-series.

For the Australian Rugby League loyalists, younger talent in Andrew Johns, Matt Sing, Ben Ikin, Adrian Lam, Trent Barrett, Steve Menzies and Robbie O'Davis all came of age in 1997. Fought out against the backdrop of public disillusion and a game bitterly divided due to the Super League war, 1997's was a dour series. The spirit was there, and some new faces, but the intensity wasn't quite the same. The New South Wales camp was brightened with the arrival of one of Australian rugby league's traditional and colourful characters in Tommy Raudonikis as coach who guided New South Wales to their fifth series win in six years on the back of the strong legacy left by Raudonikis' predecessor coach Phil Gould.

Game I[edit]

28 May
Queensland Queensland colours.svg 6–8 New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales
Adrian Lam(4 - 1t)
Wayne Bartrim (2 - 1g)
(Report) (4 - 1t) Paul McGregor
(2 - 1g) Andrew Johns
(2 - 1g) Rod Wishart
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Attendance: 28,222
Referee/s: Kelvin Jeffes
Man of the Match: Geoff Toovey

Tommy Raudonikis' Blues gained the ascendency in game I - a match lacking the traditional early Origin intensity but which came alive in the second half as the prospect of a New South Wales triumph became reality. The Blues lead 8-0 at half-time after a try to Paul McGregor in the 31st minute and a goal each to Rod Wishart and Andrew Johns.

Injuries conspired against the visitors with McGregor, Wishart and Johns all forced from the field and sensing vulnerability the Maroons surged back. Queensland dominated the second-half but the Blues defence held out. Eventually weight of possession told and the Blues were cut to a 2-point lead when Maroons debutant Adrian Lam - a Papua New Guinean representative given dispensation to play Origin since 1995 - scored in the 68th minute.

New South Wales' brave and nuggety hooker Geoff Toovey lifted for the occasion and in the last ten minutes made a series of probing darts which kept the Maroons on the back foot and which earned him man-of-the-match honours and victory for the Blues.

Game II[edit]

11 June
New South Wales New South Wales colours.svg 15–14 Queensland colours.svg Queensland
Ken McGuinness (4 - 1t)
Nik Kosef (4 - 1t)
Jim Dymock (4 - 1t)
John Simon (3 - 1g, 1fg)
(Report) (4 - 1t) Matt Sing
(4 - 1t) Robbie O'Davis
(4 - 1t) Brett Dallas
(2 - 1g) Julian O'Neill
MCG, Melbourne
Attendance: 25,105
Referee/s: David Manson
Man of the Match: Paul McGregor

New South Wales looked to have wrapped up Game II by racing to a 14-0 lead after just 27 minutes via tries to Ken McGuinness, Nik Kosef and Jim Dymock. However Queensland kept their cool and reduced the deficit to 14-10 at halftime with two tries in four minutes to Matt Sing and Robbie O'Davis.

The Maroons levelled the scores five minutes after the break when Brett Dallas broke a Jamie Ainscough tackle and crossed for 14-all. There were no further points in a classic tight contest until the 69th minute when Blues half John Simon landed a 26-metre field goal. The Queensland camp was left to rue a missed penalty attempt by Julian O'Neill in the dying minutes, presenting NSW victory and their fifth series win in six years.

Game III[edit]

Game III was dead-rubber with only pride and soul at stake for the Maroons who were facing their second consecutive whitewash.

25 June
Queensland Queensland colours.svg 18–12 New South Wales colours.svg New South Wales
Julian O'Neill (10 - 1t, 3g)
Ben Ikin (4 - 1t)
Mark Coyne (4 - 1t)
(Report) (6 - 1t,1g) Andrew Johns
(4 - 1t) Jamie Ainscough
(2 - 1g) John Simon
SFS, Sydney
Attendance: 33,241
Referee/s: Eddie Ward
Man of the Match: Gary Larson


Queensland were outstanding on the night at the Blues' home ground and broke a five-game losing streak to win 18-12. Ben Ikin was the Maroons' hero, scoring a superb solo try after just four minutes and then firing a pass for Julian O'Neill to extend the Queensland lead to 12-0 at the 13-minute mark. New South Wales came back with tries to Ainscough and Johns but a Mark Coyne try sealed the victory for the Maroons.

New South Wales teams[edit]

Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Fullback Balmain colours.png Tim Brasher
Wing Illawarra colours.svg Rod Wishart Western Suburbs colours.svg Ken McGuinness
Centre Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Terry Hill
Centre Illawarra colours.svg Paul McGregor St. George colours.svg Jamie Ainscough
Wing St. George colours.svg Jamie Ainscough North Sydney colours.svg Matt Seers
Five-eighth Parramatta colours.svg Jim Dymock Illawarra colours.svg Trent Barrett
Halfback Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Geoff Toovey (c) Parramatta colours.svg John Simon Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Geoff Toovey (c)
Prop Newcastle colours.svg Paul Harragon
Hooker Newcastle colours.svg Andrew Johns Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Geoff Toovey (c) Newcastle colours.svg Andrew Johns
Prop Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Mark Carroll
Second Row Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Steve Menzies
Second Row Newcastle colours.svg Adam Muir
Lock Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Nik Kosef
Interchange North Sydney colours.svg David Fairleigh
Interchange Parramatta colours.svg Dean Pay
Interchange Parramatta colours.svg John Simon North Sydney colours.svg Matt Seers Parramatta colours.svg John Simon
Interchange Western Suburbs colours.svg Ken McGuinness Parramatta colours.svg Aaron Raper North Sydney colours.svg Michael Buettner
Coach New South Wales colours.svg Tommy Raudonikis

Queensland teams[edit]

Position Game 1 Game 2 Game 3
Fullback Newcastle colours.svg Robbie O'Davis
Wing North Sydney colours.svg Brett Dallas
Centre Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Matt Sing Parramatta colours.svg Stuart Kelly St. George colours.svg Mark Coyne
Centre St. George colours.svg Mark Coyne South Sydney colours.svg Julian O'Neill
Wing Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Danny Moore Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Matt Sing
Five-eighth North Sydney colours.svg Ben Ikin
Halfback Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Adrian Lam (c)
Prop Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Neil Tierney South Queensland colours.svg Clinton O'Brien
Hooker Gold Coast Chargers colours.svgJamie Goddard St. George colours.svg Wayne Bartrim Gold Coast Chargers colours.svgJamie Goddard
Prop Illawarra colours.svg Craig Smith Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Neil Tierney
Second Row North Sydney colours.svg Gary Larson
Second Row North Sydney colours.svg Billy Moore Parramatta colours.svg Jason Smith
Lock St. George colours.svg Wayne Bartrim North Sydney colours.svg Billy Moore
Interchange Parramatta colours.svg Jason Smith Gold Coast Chargers colours.svg Jamie Goddard Parramatta colours.svg Stuart Kelly
Interchange Gold Coast Chargers colours.svg Jeremy Schloss
Interchange North Sydney colours.svg Tony Hearn South Queensland colours.svg Clinton O'Brien Illawarra colours.svg Craig Smith
Interchange Parramatta colours.svg Stuart Kelly South Sydney colours.svg Julian O'Neill St. George colours.svg Wayne Bartrim
Coach Queensland colours.svg Paul Vautin

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

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

External links[edit]