Andrew Mulligan: Overhyped Origin falls flat

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Both teams need to front with the big moments fans love.
Game one between Queensland and New South Wales produced few Origin moments to savour. Picture / Getty Images
Game one between Queensland and New South Wales produced few Origin moments to savour. Picture / Getty Images

I want my State of Origin back. I love it. It's the most wonderful time of the year, except when the Kiwis are playing the Kangaroos.

But Wednesday night's 6-4 win to the visiting Maroons wasn't the arm wrestle the score suggests.

Yes, it rained in Sydney - 80mm fell in 24 hours at Olympic Park but it drained away nicely.

What game one showed is that sometimes these matches are all hype, with very few 'Origin moments' to savour.

It's laid on thick pre-game, with immortals and legends of the game stationed everywhere we could possibly want them: Billy Slater whispering in Queensland's warm-up room; Brett Finch watching through an open door, seemingly spying on the Blues warming up.

This is bookended by commentator Ray Warren talking us through the greatness of it all, what it means to be an Origin player on the cusp of history.

This stuff gets me frothing for an Origin moment or three but they never came.

Why? Queensland are like the 1998 to 2008 Crusaders - they will tackle you into the ground, strangle you with their structured play and Cam Smith's left boot will relieve the pressure. Basically Smith is Richie McCaw with a kicking game.

To have only 10 points in a game is fine. It's happened before. But Origin I this year was like a good NRL game played by the best of the NRL. Yes, it was fast and had errors and that of course included the most maligned innovation in sport for 2016: the NRL's Bunker.

Think about what happened in the lead-up to this game. We had the inevitable player-under-an-injury-cloud in Cooper Cronk, whose ankle came right for the game. We had questions of readiness inevitably asked of players on debut. And we even had the classic team faux pas of leaving a whiteboard of instructions for the Blues players in the visitors' sheds that the Maroons stumbled upon.

One instruction from New South Wales coach Laurie Daley was "don't rest in an Origin Moment". It should have been "be an Origin Moment".

League is a great game but it's not the greatest (no sport is) and it reinforces that by having everyone tell us it is the greatest game.

The insecurities of the host broadcasters and former players just confirm this. Origin is a spectacle but it can let itself down with the hype.

Sure, Victoria couldn't probably care less about it but they are too busy navel gazing at the AFL.

I want the games when players really square up to each other, when a Billy Slater kick-chase got you off your seat in 2004's Origin II, when Mark Coyne scored a last-minute try for a Maroons win in 1994, or when Jarryd Hayne scooped up Brent Tate's kick in 2007's Origin I.

I want my Origin Moments for the second and third games of this series please and it's up to both teams to provide them.

- NZ Herald

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