Before the 2020 State of Origin series, NSW were near unbackable favourites starring down a third straight State of Origin series win.
But three weeks later, Wayne Bennett and his baby Maroons have made history, ending the most bizarre of all seasons on a high.
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Queensland blooded 14 debutants in the 2020 series and had coach Wayne Bennett replace Kevin Walters as Maroons coach with a little over a month before the series began.
The Maroons were labelled the worst Queensland team in 40 years before the series, while NSW Origin great Paul Gallen doubled down the criticism on Channel 9’s Sports Sunday agreeing the current Maroons were one of the weakest in the history of the game.
“I look at the current side and they‘ve got some great players, but I think as a team, when it comes down to ability, I don’t think they’ve got anywhere near the ability of the Blues, so I think it’s fair,” he said.
And the Maroons clearly took it to heart with captain Daly Cherry-Evans mentioning the swipe to finish his victory speech.
“And on behalf of the worst ever Queensland team, thank you very much,” he said.
In the days before the big game, Cherry-Evans agreed that the sledge hurt a little bit but it appeared to have sparked the Maroons.
Daly Cherry-Evans is the pride of Queensland after leading the side to the series win.Source:Getty Images
NSW coach Brad Fittler distanced himself from the comments.
“I’m not sure who said it’s the worst team in history around NSW or our team,” he said.
“I think they did a great job. I think in Adeladie, coming from 10-0 down … I think where we lost the series, I’ve got to go back to the first half in Adelaide where we didn’t take advantage at all.”
But with master coach Bennett behind the scenes, the Maroons pulled off one of the all-time results.
Queensland great Cooper Cronk said it was “his greatest coaching performance”.
Social media showed it had a long memory with fans piling revelling in DCE’s perfect trolling of the Blues.
‘On behalf of the worst state of origin team thank you very much’ is DCE’s ultimate troll job… I love it 😂😂😂 #stateoforigin
DCE rightly rubbing it in …”on behalf of the worst Qld team ..thank you very much.” He had every right to say that. Blues very disappointing. @NRLonNine @9NewsSyd
And the last words must go to the #QLDER skipper, Cherry-Evans: "On behalf of the worst Queensland team ever, thanks very much." Love it. #StateOfOrigin Thanks again to the Blues for all the motivation.
Edrick, Brenko and Lindsay Collins don’t make the 3rd NSW #Origin team. Queensland continue to defy the odds. That Maroon jersey a suit of armour. However, when Allen and Holmes rock up to the afterparty … pic.twitter.com/6BW6X2bsaW
‘Worst team in 40 years’ is going to haunt us forever. I hate it here 😩 #Origin
Worst @QLDmaroons team ever, huh?
I hope they never learn….. #NSWFail #qlder #origin
Queensland will be celebrating this long and hard.Source:News Corp Australia
The result brings back memories of the 1995 series, when Queensland won 3-0 with a largely unheralded side under the tutelage of Paul Vautin, has gone down in Origin folklore and this win will likely follow it.
The Maroons boilover was on at the start of the series when Queensland won 18-14 in Adelaide, before NSW bounced back with the 34-10 win in Sydney.
While the Blues had to face a Suncorp Stadium nearly full of Maroons fans in the decider, NSW were still huge favourites despite not having won a State of Origin decider in Queensland in 15 years.
But after injuries to James Tedesco early and Cody Walker late in the game, it proved a bridge too far for the Blues as the Maroons regained the Origin Shield for the first time in three years.
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