2003 State of Origin series
|2003 State of Origin series|
|Won by||New South Wales (10th title)|
|Attendance||183,682 (ave. 61,227 per match)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Andrew Johns (22)|
|Top try scorer(s)|| Anthony Minichiello (3)
Timana Tahu (3)
Matt Sing (3)
The 2003 State of Origin series was the 22nd year that the annual three-game series between Queensland and New South Wales was contested entirely under 'state of origin' selection rules. Queensland's return to a renovated Lang Park was soured when the player many league aficionados consider the best ever to lace on a pair of boots - Andrew Johns - returned to form for New South Wales in devastating fashion.
Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared in television promotions for the 2003 series. Blues coach Phil Gould sparked controversy before the series had even started when he slammed the form of his champion half-back Johns in his Sun-Herald column. Gould claimed that Johns had lost his "self-confidence" in an attack that caused outrage from all corners, including Johns himself, who had words with Gould at a pre-Origin briefing. But in the end it was psychology that worked, as 2003 was Johns' best ever series performance.
11 June 2003
|Queensland||12–25||New South Wales|
|Darren Lockyer (8 - 1t,2g)
Gorden Tallis (4 -1t)
|(Report)||(13 - 1t,4g,1fg) Andrew Johns
(8 - 2t) Anthony Minichiello
(4 -1t) Craig Wing
In Game I, Andrew Johns spoiled what was supposed to be a party time for the Queenslanders, who returned to their spiritual home of Suncorp Stadium formerly known as Lang Park. The ground was quickly nicknamed the "Sand Pit" as its sandy surface was constantly shifting under the feet of players. Both Maroons centres Justin Hodges and Paul Bowman, were taken from the field with serious knee injuries which were later blamed on the shifting surface.
The Blues pack led by interchange prop Luke Bailey, hammered their Maroons counterparts and gave Johns plenty of room to weave his magic. Johns contributed 13 points to the tally while Anthony Minichiello scored a try double.
25 June 2003
|New South Wales||27–4||Queensland|
|(8 - 2t) Timana Tahu
(7 - 3g,1fg) Andrew Johns
(4 - 1t) Ben Kennedy
(4 - 1t)Matthew Gidley
(4 - 1t) Anthony Minichiello
|(Report)||Michael Crocker (4 - 1t)|
The series was virtually decided by half-time of game II after the Blues raced to a 17-0 lead. Johns was again the catalyst starting the scoring with a brilliant banana kick that rebounded off the cross bar, went through the hands of Michael De Vere and fell to the ground before Ben Kennedy pounced.
There was no greater example of the brilliant halfback's influence than the last minute before the break. Johns kicked for touch from a 20-metre restart, then after winning the ensuing scrum, hoisted a bomb high into the air which was contested before being batted back into his hands. Without a second thought and while on the run, he potted a 25-metre field goal with ease.
The final score was 27-4 to the Blues who remained unbeaten from seven matches on their home turf of Telstra Stadium.
16 July 2003
|Queensland||36–6||New South Wales|
|Matt Sing (12 - 3t)
Brent Tate (8 - 2t)
Josh Hannay (8 - 4g)
Cameron Smith (4 - 1t)
Michael Crocker (4 - 1t)
|(Report)||(4 - 1t) Timana Tahu
(2 - 1g) Andrew Johns
Game III, otherwise known as the "dead rubber", restored some much needed pride for the Maroons who dominated the Blues in every facet of the game. Winger Matt Sing was superb, scoring three tries in a man-of-the match performance.
Queensland started with a new-found zest and led 16-0 after just 17 minutes before strangling the Blues out of the contest. Johns was forced to accept the shield in front of an almost empty stadium after Queensland had completed a lap of honour. It was an anti-climactic end to what had been the gifted number seven's best ever series. Queensland's dead-rubber win equalled their biggest ever State of Origin victory, which was first equalled in 1989, and again in 2008.
A total of twelve players from the 2003 Brisbane Broncos season were selected to play in the series, making them the most heavily represented club. A total of nine players from the 2003 Sydney Roosters season were selected to play in the series, making them the second most heavily represented club.
New South Wales
|Position||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
|Wing||Michael De Vere|
|Halfback||Andrew Johns (c)|
|Second Row||Craig Fitzgibbon||Bryan Fletcher|
|Second Row||Ben Kennedy||Luke Ricketson|
|Lock||Luke Ricketson||Braith Anasta|
|Interchange||Josh Perry||Bryan Fletcher||Willie Mason|
|Position||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
|Centre||Justin Hodges||Tonie Carroll||Josh Hannay|
|Hooker||PJ Marsh||Michael Crocker||Cameron Smith|
|Prop||Petero Civoniceva||Steve Price||Petero Civoniceva|
|Second Row||Gorden Tallis (c)|
|Second Row||Dane Carlaw||Petero Civoniceva||Dane Carlaw|
|Lock||Tonie Carroll||Travis Norton||Tonie Carroll|
|Interchange||Steve Price||Dane Carlaw||Steve Price|
|Interchange||Chris Flannery||Andrew Gee||Travis Norton|
|Interchange||Paul Bowman||Scott Sattler||Michael Crocker|
|Interchange||Andrew Gee||Matt Bowen|
- Jacquelin Magnay, Anthony Dennis and Alex Brown (26 June 2003). "Hasta la vista, baby: Blues make it Terminator II". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- Maddox, Garry (26 June 2003). "Arnie the holiday winner". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 6 February 2011.
- 2003 Game I at nrlstats.com
- 2003 Game II at nrlstats.com
- 2003 Game III at nrlstats.com
- Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney