2004 State of Origin series
|2004 State of Origin series|
|Won by||New South Wales (11th title)|
|Attendance||203,309 (ave. 67,770 per match)|
|Top points scorer(s)||Craig Fitzgibbon (20)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Billy Slater (3)|
The 2004 State of Origin series was the 23rd 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. A pre-series Blues mobile phone scandal, Brad Fittler's comeback, a Golden point outcome in Game I and an extraordinary Billy Slater try showed that State of Origin's ability to create memorable football moments was as strong as ever after 25 years of the concept. The New South Wales' Game III victory saw a match-up in the respective cumulative tallies at 35 wins apiece, continuing a recurring trend where any push toward dominance by one side is soon countered by the other. The Ron McAuliffe Medal for Queensland player of the series was awarded to Steve Price.
New South Wales players Anthony Minichiello and Mark Gasnier were dropped following a drunken incident during the Blues' training camp when it was made public that Gasnier had left a lewd message on a female acquaintance's phone.
|New South Wales||9–8||Queensland|
|Shaun Timmins (5 - 1t, 1fg)
Craig Fitzgibbon (4 - 1t)
|(Report)||(4 - 1t) Brent Tate
(4 - 1t) Scott Prince
Game one featured the first ever Golden point decision in State of Origin football in the very first game where the ruling became available. With scores locked at 8-all and three minutes of extra time played, St George Illawarra Dragons player Shaun Timmins, who had returned to top-class and representative football against unlikely odds after two career-threatening knee injuries and operations, stepped up and kicked a 37-metre left-foot field goal to steal victory for New South Wales. Blues halfback Craig Gower had already missed three earlier field goal attempts, was struggling with a knee injury and was closely marked by Queensland at every kick opportunity so it was left to Timmins to create his own moment of Origin folklore.
Game II had plenty of hype surrounding it after Blues coach Phil Gould coaxed Brad Fittler out of representative retirement to spearhead the Blues campaign. First game hero Timmins was missing through injury as was Gower and next choice half-backs Trent Barrett, Matt Orford and Brett Kimmorley. This left Sydney Roosters number seven Brett Finch to make his Origin debut alongside his club captain Fittler at five-eighth.
|Queensland||22–18||New South Wales|
|Billy Slater (8 - 2t)
Cameron Smith (4 - 2g)
Dane Carlaw (4 - 1t)
Willie Tonga (4 - 1t)
Scott Prince (2 - 1g)
|(Report)||(8 - 2t) Timana Tahu
(6 - 3g) Craig Fitzgibbon
(4 - 1t) Luke Rooney
Suncorp Stadium proved to be a graveyeard for the Blues thanks to one of the greatest Origin tries ever seen. 20-year-old Billy Slater, a former track work jockey who had burst onto the rugby league scene in 2003, stormed onto a Darren Lockyer grubber kick from halfway before chipping over the top of Blues fullback Anthony Minichiello, chasing, regathering and scoring in the same instant.
Gould gambled by making six changes to the side which had played in game II.
|New South Wales||36–14||Queensland|
|Mark Gasnier (10 - 2t,1g)
Craig Fitzgibbon (10- 5g)
Anthony Minichiello (4 - 1t)
Luke Rooney (4 - 1t)
Brad Fittler (4 - 1t)
Trent Barrett (4 - 1t)
|(Report)||(6 - 3g) Cameron Smith
(4 - 1t) Matt Bowen
(4 - 1t) Billy Slater
In Game III, the Blues and their inspirational former captain Brad Fittler saved their best till last. The match was also the swansong for Phil Gould, New South Wales' most successful Origin coach who had commenced his coaching association with Fittler 14 years earlier at the beginning of their respective coaching and playing careers.
St George Illawarra provided six players including debutant centres Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper and it was their attacking impetus along with Fittler's class that clinched an emphatic 36-14 victory. Fittler scored the last try in the match to the delight of his team-mates.
New South Wales squad
|Position||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3|
|Fullback||Ben Hornby||Anthony Minichiello|
|Wing||Luke Lewis||Timana Tahu||Luke Lewis|
|Centre||Michael De Vere||Luke Lewis||Mark Gasnier|
|Centre||Matt Gidley||Matt Cooper|
|Five-eighth||Shaun Timmins||Brad Fittler|
|Halfback||Craig Gower||Brett Finch||Trent Barrett|
|Prop||Ryan O'Hara||Jason Stevens||Jason Ryles|
|Hooker||Danny Buderus (c)|
|Second Row||Nathan Hindmarsh|
|Second Row||Andrew Ryan||Craig Fitzgibbon|
|Lock||Craig Fitzgibbon||Shaun Timmins|
|Interchange||Trent Waterhouse||Ben Kennedy|
|Position||Game I||Game II||Game III|
|Wing||Justin Hodges||Matt Sing|
|Centre||Paul Bowman||Brent Tate|
|Centre||Brent Tate||Willie Tonga|
|Five-eighth||Chris Flannery||Darren Lockyer (c)|
|Prop||Shane Webcke (c)||Shane Webcke|
|Second Row||Michael Crocker||Petero Civoniceva||Michael Crocker|
|Second Row||Dane Carlaw|
|Lock||Tonie Carroll||Chris Flannery|
|Interchange||Petero Civoniceva||Chris Flannery||Petero Civoniceva|
|Interchange||Travis Norton||Corey Parker|
- Prichard, Greg (15 June 2010). "Scandals, losing streaks, injuries but there's never been a lost cause". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Media). Retrieved 2010-06-15.
- "State of Origin - 2000s". The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia: Fairfax Digital). 2010-04-27. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- Steve Mascord and John Schell (17 June 2004). "Slater ruins Freddie's fairytale". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
- Barrow, Tim (6 July 2011). "State of Origin: The deciders". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
- Big League's 25 Years of Origin Collectors' Edition, News Magazines, Surry Hills, Sydney