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Joey tossing toys out of cot tarnishes Origin decider that had it all

The general consensus appears to be that we all just witnessed a great Origin decider. Put simply, it had everything that fans request each and every time the Maroons and Blues head onto the field to do battle.

Sure there is passionate and sometimes misguided support for each state and a considerable bag of bragging rights available for fans of the victors, yet anyone claiming to be a fan of the game who walked away with anything but admiration for the players involved and the show they produced in Origin III, simply ain’t no fan at all.

It was a contest to celebrate, regardless of the outcome.

Sadly, Blues great Andrew Johns failed to do just that in a petulant and immature post-game display on the host broadcaster. Refusing to analyse the contest in any way shape or form and responding to questions with short clichéd clauses that had his fellow panel members smirking and on the verge of open laughter, the 48-year-old added another embarrassing moment to what is now a substantial list.

Johns is probably the most gifted rugby league player I have ever had the privilege of watching, along with Maroons great Wally Lewis, he simply did things on a rugby league field that mere mortals could not.

However, in spite of all the in-built passion and commitment he may have for the Blues after representing them on 23 occasions across a full decade, Johns needs something far more substantial to fill his days if an Origin series loss hits him as hard as it appeared to last night.

His reaction was unprofessional, awkward and childish, with the suits at Nine almost certain to remind Johns of his contractual obligation to add insight and credibility to the coverage, rather than toss his toys out of the cot when the result goes against his wishes.

(Channel 9 screenshot)

Early in the evening, Johns had been all talk, salivating at the ‘old school’ elements in the contest and celebrating a return of the biff, for which he has long advocated. He was not alone, with the entire Nine team enjoying the throwback feel to the contest and cheering on during a few of the incidents that the NRL has actually fought hard to eliminate over the last 20 years.

However, when the Blues’ fate appeared sealed, Johns clammed up and with the majority of fans well on their way home and the dust settling on what was a ripping encounter, he uttered a sentence live on air that expertly defines his apparent primary school approach to State of Origin: “Now we have to listen to all the bullshit from you (Queenslanders) in the next 12 months!”

If it was a child in the back seat of your car sooking and whinging in the same way, a tongue lashing would immediately follow.

Origin III was a brilliant, brutal, fiery and a highly skilled game of rugby league. Queensland won it and deservedly so.

Ben Hunt after scoring winning try

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The team played like warriors, with pre and mid-game incidents making things even more challenging for them.

The last thing the Maroons or their fans deserve is a former Origin star for the Blues sooking parochially whilst a few adults around him looked on in stunned amusement.

He should simply have said, “Well played Queensland, what a great game.”

Andrew Johns. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Origin III will be remembered for three early and concerning injuries and the subsequent challenges they presented to both teams in terms of interchange management and positional reshuffling.

Into folklore will go the Dane Gagai versus Matt Burton stoush just after half-time and by extension, the interesting role that Tino Fa’asuamaleaui played in it.

Few will ever forget the performance of Kalyn Ponga; a masterclass in ball running, dummy throwing, passing and the shrewd decision making he displayed in knowing just when to do all three.

Patrick Carrigan

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Equally memorable was the awarding of the Wally Lewis Medal to Patrick Carrigan. While almost impossible to imagine at the start of the series, the 24-year-old Broncos forward deserved every piece of the medal and has confidently stepped into the Kangaroo selection frame.

In among all of the above was a brutal encounter played at an elevated intensity compared to the opening two matches. As enjoyable as they may have been, the decider took us to another stratosphere, with the carrot of an Origin series win lifting the players to levels we have rarely seen.

There was something uncomfortable and unsettling about the contest, not in a disappointing way, more knowing that 34 men were prepared to do whatever it took to aid their team’s cause. At a few flash points, that determination caused things to boil over.

There was the odd moment last night where I wondered exactly where the next land mine would appear, whether things were about to become completely out of control and if Ashley Klein was armed with the composure to handle the spot fires.

As a New South Welshman, I smiled when the final siren sounded, knowing full well that I had seen something special and with a pleasant awareness that in just under a year, the players will be back at it again.

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