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The Maroons’ Origin win was a miracle

Another miracle has been performed at Lang Park, the Cathedral of Crunch, the spiritual home of the mighty Maroons, perpetual underdogs since State of Origin began.

For 43 years Origin has given meaning to Queensland winters. Even on an evening when the temperature threatened to dip down to single figures, the faithful gathered and had their hearts warmed by a miraculous performance, an effort so stunning it could only be believed by those who had witnessed it so many times before.

Of course it was never in doubt, all those who there will proclaim.

But when Cameron Munster succumbed to one of those perennial viruses that plague the Queensland camp, the media was full of the smug mutterings of a multitude of doubting Thomases.

There was, however, one Thomas who believed; and the name Dearden will always be mentioned when heroic efforts in time of Maroons need are recalled.

Few in the media seemed to think that they had a prayer, which makes you wonder if they’ve been watching for the last four decades. Blues cynics try to laugh off the power of Queensland spirit; and yet once again it was there, plain for all to see.

As the redemption of Ben Hunt was confirmed in the 78th minute in the form of an epic pilgrimage to the try-line, it was impossible not to be awed by this moment of spiritual ecstasy.

Queensland’s apparent lack of interest in the second match, the dead rubber, may have fooled many down south, but the conviction of the Sunshine State, home of the Big Pineapple, never wavered.

Perhaps the greatest leap of faith wasn’t believing the Maroons would win, but in appointing a coach who had never coached before.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Billy Slater head coach of the Maroons and Ben Hunt of the Maroons celebrate victory during game three of the State of Origin Series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on July 13, 2022 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Billy Slater and Ben Hunt celebrate. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

It now seems obvious Billy Slater was divinely destined to be Queensland coach. At the after match press conference he spoke about the resilience of Queenslanders through fire, drought, flood and cyclones, and how they never give up; how the team had channeled that spirit.

If a politician said those words you’d roll your eyes, but the simple truth of his words was played out on the Suncorp turf.

Much has been written about Slater’s work ethic and knowledge of the game.

But he obviously also has superb football intelligence.

Getting Cameron Smith to assist was a stroke of genius. King Wally Lewis may be the greatest player of all time, but certainly Smith has been the most effective. Nobody knows more about winning Origin games than Smith, and he must have made a significant contribution to the Maroons’ tactical supremacy.

So what have we learned? Well, nothing really. Those who don’t study history are condemned to repeat it, and in six months’ time the memory will have faded, and talk of Blue dynasties will once again be all we hear.

But that’s fine. In fact, it’s kind of how we like it up here.

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