Queensland’s remarkable State of Origin winning streak is over, but the team which built an empire isn’t planning on going anywhere just yet.
The streak may be over but as far as Queensland are concerned their dominant State of Origin era hasn’t come close to ending.
The Maroons smashed any hopes NSW had of securing a series whitewash on Wednesday with a spectacular 32-8 victory over the Blues at Suncorp Stadium.
It may have come too late to prevent the Blues from ending Queensland’s eight-year Origin series winning run but the Maroons are already warning their southern rivals to expect a fightback in 2015.
The Maroons believe game three was a far better reflection of Queensland’s position after injury and selection uncertainty hampered preparations for games one and two.
The Blues won both matches by less than a converted try as the Maroons struggled to handle injuries or niggles to several crucial players such as Sam Thaiday, Cooper Cronk and Corey Parker.
Thaiday’s drive and spirit, so evident upon his return to the team, was badly missed in the 12-8 game two defeat.
Veteran lock Parker’s value to the side was highlighted by his man-of-the-match display in game three, the 32-year-old completing a game-high 23 runs for 213 metres and notching a remarkable eight offloads.
None were missed as much as Cronk, whose return from the broken arm suffered in the opening minutes of Origin I sparked life into an attack which had sputtered to a halt without his calm guidance.
Maroons enforcer Nate Myles says a halftime celebration honouring those who played for the state during the eight-series winning run felt premature to him.
“I don’t completely agree with celebrating the eight,” Myles said.
“I’m very thankful to be a part of it but I don’t think it’s the end of us.
“It’s not over for us as a team. All of us boys are still playing and still want to play.
“As a team, and with Mal’s (Meninga, coach) guidance, we want to keep getting better.”
One of the team’s new brigade, Daly Cherry-Evans, had been marked pre-game as one of the men crucial to rebuilding Queensland’s Origin fortunes.
From Wednesday night’s team Parker, Cronk, captain Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Justin Hodges, Jacob Lillyman are all the wrong side of 30.
All of those players are however expected to return next year with only veteran winger Brent Tate likely to have played his final Origin campaign after undergoing a knee reconstruction following game two.
It means Cherry-Evans and fellow new boys such as Aidan Guerra and Will Chambers aren’t buying into the argument they will now be left to restore the Maroons to the winner’s circle.
“All the talk was that this side, this era, was over,” the 25-year-old halfback said.
“I tried to tell you after game two that that wasn’t the case.
“There’s a lot of good footy left in front of it and I can only hope that I’m a part of it.”