Origin series ratings: One state can dominate for years

While Cameron Munster was an easy decision for Origin man of the series, the battle for second best could have gone to a player on either side of the divide.

 

In fact, there weren't too many duds in a cracking NSW v Queensland series that has set a high bar for the rest of the decade.

But just who were the stand-outs over the three matches?

 

Watch The State of Origin III Full & Mini REPLAY on Kayo with no ad-breaks during play and Fox League Commentary. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

 

 

QUEENSLAND

 

Moeaki Fotuaika - 3

 

The Titans prop only played 26 minutes of Origin II when he's really suited to longer stints. We haven't seen the last of him at this level though and his future club combination with David Fifita and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will be replicated in Maroon for many years to come.

 

Dunamis Lui - 4

 

Another who only saw limited time in his one appearance for the series, getting through 25 minutes of Origin II. Was solid enough when he was out there but got dropped for the decider.

 

Edrick Lee - 7

 

Lee's inclusion for Origin III wasn't as crazy as some presumed - he's been part of extended Queensland squads twice before and was 18th man for Game III of the 2015 series. The Novocastrian flyer might never get another chance in Maroon but he made the most of this one, scoring a try and staying busy throughout.

 

Brenko Lee - 6

 

It's great watching great players play great in Origin footy - that's what turns them into legends after all, and there's plenty of reminiscing about Wally Lewis and Laurie Daley and Andrew Johns and all the rest. But Origin is also about players like Brenko Lee, who might never have played Origin in any other year but answered the call when his state needed him and didn't let them down. The cousins Lee might never play another Origin but they're up there with John Doyle, Adam Mogg and Josh Hannay, with their own slice of Queensland history.

 

Corey Allan - 7

 

Another of the one-game wonders, Allan had a bit of everything in the decider. He set up a try, threw a pass that should have lead to another, ran the ball well, made two bad errors, looked shaky under the high ball sometimes and was sin-binned in the final minutes. It was quite a ride.

 

AJ Brimson - 7

 

Origin I feels like it was a thousand years ago but don't let that obscure Brimson's fine Queensland debut. The fleet-footed Titan was electric at the back with his speed and support play on show throughout the match. Toppling Kalyn Ponga for the custodian role in the 2021 series is a tall order but we'll see more of Brimson in Maroon.

 

Coen Hess - 4

 

Hess was a strange selection to begin with and the North Queenslander wasn't spotted again after playing the opening 20 minutes of Origin I.

 

Harry Grant - 8

 

Sometimes stars are born and sometimes they're made. Harry Grant is both. His sterling debut was reminiscent of some of Origin's best (think Damien Cook in 2018, Cameron Munster in 2017 or Brett Hodgson in 2001) and showed the rugby league world what most already knew - that Grant is going to be the Queensland dummy half for a long, long time.

 

Jaydn Su'A - 5

 

The Rabbitohs enforcer did well in his debut series, with his athleticism on both sides of the ball shining through in his limited chances. He'll come into consideration again next year and could challenge Felise Kaufusi for a starting berth.

 

Xavier Coates - 6

 

Got thrown in very early and swam more than he sank. The former Papua New Guinea international looked right at home at the game's highest level, even amid heavy pressure in Sydney, and despite missing the decider through injury we'll see him in Maroon for a very long time.

 

Dane Gagai - 8

 

As one of the few experienced hands in the Maroons backline, Queensland needed Gagai to show the way for the rookies, and he did just that. Nobody should be surprised he did so well - after all, Origin Gagai is one of the few things one can rely on in such troubled times.

 

Valentine Holmes - 6

 

A strange series for the former New York Jet. Holmes looked off the pace at fullback in Origin II before switching back to the wing for the decider, where he produced a great finish to open the scoring (his ninth try in seven Origin matches) and ran well before bombing two tries with stone cold drops. Despite that, wing seems to be his best Origin spot going forward.

 

Kurt Capewell - 7

 

Another unheralded Maroon who became an Origin hero. The big Panther was superb in Adelaide, struggled in Sydney and got it back together in Brisbane playing in his preferred spot of second row. It won't be easy to crack the Queensland pack in the next few years but Capewell's versatility makes him a real asset and this shouldn't be his only series.

 

Phillip Sami - 5

 

Was thrown into Origin I after Brenko Lee failed a late fitness test and was solid enough before a tough night in Sydney had him dropped for the decider.

 

Cameron Munster - 9

 

A worthy choice for man of the series, even accounting for his concussion in Origin II. Queensland were always going to be high on effort and youthful enthusiasm, but Munster's confidence and swagger proved to be infectious and he became an unlikely leader for the Maroons. Give him the keys to the Caxton, because he's earned them five times over.

 

Daly Cherry-Evans - 6

 

Cherry-Evans was a curious choice for man of the match in Adelaide and did what he could in the heavy defeat in Sydney before putting in a solid shift in Brisbane. The Maroons probably could have done with a bit more direction from their most experienced playmaker but he did the job and ended the series raising the shield, which is all that really matters.

 

Christian Welch - 7

 

His rugged style suits Origin well and Queensland missed him in Origin II. While Welch can chew up the metres, he's not one-dimensional, as his sharp offload for Harry Grant's try in the decider indicated.

 

Jake Friend - 6

 

Friend had waited a long time for his Origin debut and his experience was invaluable in Adelaide, with his work rate particularly coming to the fore. It was hard not to be happy for the Roosters rake after such a long apprenticeship, and even though Grant's emergence might mark the end of Friend's Origin career, he played a valuable role in the series win.

 

Josh Papalii - 7

 

Wayne Bennett seems hesitant to play Papalii for more than 50 minutes or so, which meant his contributions through the series - while they were as strong as ever, and worthy of his reputation as the game's best prop - left us all wanting a little more. Bounced back well in Brisbane after a poor showing, by his own admission, in Sydney.

 

Felise Kaufusi - 6

 

Held up his end reasonably well through the three games but faces a fight to hold his starting spot given Capewell and Su'A will only get better and David Fifita will re-enter calculations next year.

 

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - 8

 

Came of age in his debut series as he took on the Blues forwards without fear or hesitation. His battles with Payne Haas in Game II and III were real highlights and he could wear Maroon for the next decade.

 

Ben Hunt - 5

 

Did very well in Adelaide as a quasi-lock forward as his ball movement helped free up the Queensland attack but struggled in Sydney after he replaced Cameron Munster in the halves. Was perhaps a little unfortunate to be dropped for the decider but Grant demanded inclusion.

 

Lindsay Collins - 8

 

There is not much to the way Lindsay Collins plays his football. He's pretty big and pretty strong and runs pretty hard and that's about it, but sometimes that's all you need and the Roosters prop did himself proud with a terrific debut series. Helped turn the tide in Adelaide when he came on, then backed it up with another strong effort in Sydney before a superb display in the decider, where he finished with the most metres of any player. If the Chooks don't want to start him there's plenty of teams who will.

 

Jai Arrow - 5

 

Probably better suited to starting but did what he could has an impact player off the bench. His incident with Tedesco in the decider was a poor look, but grubby antics are not in Arrow's nature.

 

 

NSW

 

 

Cameron Murray - n/a

 

Murray's series was over after just a few minutes after he suffered a hamstring injury and the Blues missed his impact off the bench.

 

Luke Keary - 5

 

We'd been waiting for Keary's Origin debut for some time and, in the end, he wasn't quite able to replicate his form that's made him a star at the Roosters. He was perhaps a little unlucky to be dropped, but he'll be back at this level again in the future.

 

James Tedesco - 8

 

It's a mark of how accustomed we've become to Tedesco's excellence that nobody was surprised by how well he played in the opening two matches of the series. The Camden product is fast becoming one of the best fullbacks in NSW history and took his game to another level after he was appointed captain. The Blues looked a little lost without him after a concussion ended his night early in Brisbane.

 

Daniel Tupou - 7

 

Tupou might not play for the Blues again if Tonga play more matches next season but the rangy winger is well and truly up to this level. The 29-year old has improved out of sight since his first stint in Origin in 2014-15 and his yardage was invaluable for New South Wales across the three matches.

 

Clint Gutherson - 6

 

Brad Fittler said he was impressed with Gutherson's energy and enthusiasm through the series and the Parramatta skipper did as well as could have been expected in 60 minutes at fullback in the decider. As a centre he produced a bit more of a mixed bag, including a tough debut in Adelaide when he was manhandled by Kurt Capewell.

 

Jack Wighton - 5

 

It was a strange series for the reigning Dally M medallist. Wighton's inexperience at the top level as a centre was a little exposed in Origin I before he rebounded with a strong showing in Origin II. He was by no means poor in the decider but didn't see much ball until he was switched to five-eighth in the final minutes - that might be the position where he can be at his best for New South Wales.

 

Josh Addo-Carr - 8

 

Unlucky not to snag the Brad Fittler medal, Addo-Carr enjoyed the best Origin series of his career thus far. The Melbourne flyer scored four tries, constantly looked dangerous and made some key plays with his defensive reads and kick chase. An ankle injury slowed him down in Brisbane but this was a strong showing from the best winger in the world.

 

Cody Walker - 6

 

Walker seemed to have shrugged off his initial Origin jitters with an eye-catching cameo in Game I and a virtuoso display in Game II but he was quiet in the decider before a concussion ended his night early. His combination with Nathan Cleary will go as time goes on, but his hold on the five-eighth jersey is not as secure as it may have seemed after his night out in Sydney.

 

Nathan Cleary - 7

 

Is Nathan Cleary the second coming of Andrew Johns? Or did he let this series slip through his fingers when it mattered most? The answer, of course, is neither. Cleary struggled in Adelaide, played the game of his life in Sydney and tried hard in Brisbane with little support from his fellow playmakers. No halfback is an island, and treating Cleary as though he's the sole arbiter of the Blues fate is a mistake. The spotlight shines brightest on him, which exaggerates his failures and accentuates his success and while his series was mixed, acting as though he alone carries the teams chances does a disservice to both Cleary and his teammates.

 

 

Daniel Saifiti - 8

 

Should have gotten more attention after a strong and consistent series. Saifiti was thrown into Origin last year when he probably wasn't quite ready for it and as a result he only had minimal minutes, but this time the Knights prop emerged as one of the state's best middles. Was particularly strong in Origin III, where he was one of the few Blues forwards to hold his own.

 

Damien Cook - 6

 

The Rabbitohs rake didn't do much wrong but neither did he dominate like we know he can. That's not all on Cook - like any dummy half, he needs his forwards to set a platform and that only happened intermittently. His duels with Harry Grant over the next few years will be a joy to watch.

 

Junior Paulo - 6

 

Paulo had some nice moments in his debut series, particularly in Origin III when he did all he could to turn the tide as things mounted against the Blues. It would have been interesting to see what he could have done with more minutes, but given the amount of quality in the New South Wales pack there wasn't many to spare.

 

Payne Haas - 6

 

What to make of Haas, of whom we expect so much but is still just starting out at 20-years of age? Coming off the bench in Adelaide didn't really suit him, but once he earned a starting berth in Sydney, the big Bronco dominated and was the best forward on the field. However, he failed to really fire a shot in Brisbane, gaining just 42 metres from eight runs as the Blues were outmuscled. Because he's capable of so much we can forget how young Haas is, and he looked his age a couple of times through the series.

 

Boyd Cordner - 6

 

The HIA controversy in the first match overshadowed what was another tough and hardworking performance from Cordner, who always seems to find another gear for his state. His future in the game might be uncertain, but on ability he's still one of the best backrowers in the game.

 

Angus Crichton - 7

 

With Cordner going down he had some big shoes to fill and the 24-year old certainly got through the work. Crichton wasn't able to bust either of the last two matches open, but he showed plenty of grit and will again come into calculations should Cordner be unavailable in 2021.

 

Tyson Frizell - 4

 

There's no other way of putting it - the Blues needed more from Frizell. As one of the most experienced players in the team and given he has the capabilities to dominate at this level, his meagre attacking returns (he averaged 49 metres and one tackle bust per game and did not record a line break) were not a reflection of his ability. The future Knight tackled well, but New South Wales needed his blockbusting runs and for whatever reason, Frizell couldn't find them.

 

Jake Trbojevic - 6

 

Trbojevic's tackling were excellent as usual, with a torrid opening to Origin II the highlight of his series. However, the Manly lock wasn't quite as effective in attack - he threw some nice passes at first receiver, but he couldn't make much of an impact with his running game.

 

Dale Finucane - 6

 

Even though he didn't get as many minutes as he would for Melbourne, Finucane was still very effective in the unfamiliar role of impact player. His hard-nosed style might be better suited to starting but he's always a valuable player to have around and he let nobody down this time around.

 

Isaah Yeo - 6

 

Yeo did very well on debut in Sydney, filling in at lock and second row and retaining his spot for Brisbane. In hindsight, it's easy to say the Blues should have picked Ryan Papenhuyzen as their utility but that's not Yeo's fault, and he did as well as he could in the unfamiliar role of right centre, making up for a few defensive misreads with a couple of nice moments in attack.

 

Nathan Brown - 3

 

It's hard to know what to make of Brown's series - he only played 29 minutes across his two matches, which isn't really long enough to show his best - but he tried hard to bring some energy and intensity where he could.

 

Originally published as Origin series ratings: One state can dominate for years


‘Mulga Man’ lives on through Memorial Award at USQ

Premium Content ‘Mulga Man’ lives on through Memorial Award at USQ

FAMILY and friends of Scott Sargood, also known as the “Mulga Man”, are humbled to...

Palaszczuk makes NSW border decision

Premium Content Palaszczuk makes NSW border decision

Annastacia Palaszczuk said border closure would take ‘very, very, very large...

Man fronts court for alleged indecent treatment of children

Premium Content Man fronts court for alleged indecent treatment of children

A MAN fronted a Western Downs court for the alleged indecent treatment of Children.