Power pack … NSW prop Matt Groat makes a charge. Photo: Getty Images
BABY Blues skipper Boyd Cordner revealed how he and his teammates called upon the inspiration gained from hearing old Origin warhorses, including Ricky Stuart, talk about their importance to the future of the interstate series during the build-up to last night's hard-fought victory.
With 90 seconds remaining, and trailing the home team by four points, the Maroons appeared primed to follow the well-thumbed script of their bigger brothers and upset yet another red-hot favourite NSW team on the bell.
Cordner, from the Roosters' Toyota Cup side, saved the day when he forced Queensland into making an error with three seconds remaining. He later said the words of Stuart and Craig Fitzgibbon, who presented each player with their jumper, rang true when they mattered most.
''The key point [Stuart made] was just to get across that Origin is still a big part of NSW even though Queensland have dominated in the last six years,'' he said. ''He was very passionate about us being the next generation, and the future of Origin. I think we got a lot out of that … We really dug in in defence and it just typifies what Origin is about.''
NSW coach Dean Pay, one of the toughest men to wear the sky blue jersey, praised the manner in which his team responded to the pressure. ''We've seen that in the past, them being four points behind and coming back to get us in the death,'' Pay said. ''I was really proud of them, the way they played, obviously it was a bit [of a] scrappy type of game but the guts they showed was tremendous.
''We gave them enough ball to win a couple of games and field position. It's tough to defend in your own end like that.''
NSW were well served by Penrith five-eighth Harry Siejka, who was named man of the match in front of the 5105-strong crowd, but Roosters prop Kane Evans was a knockout, scoring a tremendous try and exerting his authority.
''He's been one of the form players of the under-20s comp,'' Cordner said of his Roosters teammate. ''He's a big lad, strong bloke, too, he played unbelievable and I think he was very unlucky not to get the man-of-the-match [award], but [that's] not taking anything away from Harry because I think he directed us well and his kicking game was unbelievable.''
Queensland coach Kevin Walters said while his team was not happy to see the Blues win the inaugural Darren Lockyer Shield, he could not fault the commitment of his players. ''The performance was very Queensland-like,'' he said.