Queensland scarf at the ready for the final game of 2018

I’m not as disappointed as I probably should be that Queensland lost this year’s State of Origin series.

Why?

Because I played and coached sport for over 20 years myself. I understand the ebb and flow of team success. I know that just one retiring champion player can change the entire dynamic and mental fitness of a team.

Those players are irreplaceable.

We saw what happened to the Australian Test Cricket team when we had Gilchrest, Langer, Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Symonds all retire over the course of three years. Losing that sort of talent in such short order can rip the guts out of a team, especially if plans haven’t been put in place to bring in younger talent to replace them.

In the Queensland Origin side, we’ve been lucky enough to have several once-in-a-generation players in our team for nearly two decades. Players who can change the game in a second are rare, but we’ve been blessed by some of the greatest names in the game: Lockyer, Thurston, Smith, Inglis, Slater, Boyd, Cronk…

We’re sure as hell going to miss those retiring players not just because of their talent, but because they’re playmakers. They’ve always been the first ones picked. They’re the players coaches can build a team around.

But when I look at the players coming through for Queensland in Holmes, Munster, Hess, Kaufusi, McCullough, I see the next generation of a Queensland team that can build towards success.

And rather than trying to be the next Thurston or Smith, they get the chance to redefine the game in their own images. That’s the power of Origin.

I don’t like it when my team loses. But it’s always been bittersweet to win against a side that sometimes lacked competitiveness.

NSW seems to have finally discovered that the secret sauce to winning isn’t just great players with amazing talent, but team players who’ll do what’s needed to pick each other up and do their job. Games are won and lost on the workload of everyone, not just the one or two stars in a team.

I love that NSW are more competitive. It means Queensland need to work harder to get on top again. Origin can make a good player great, and I’m looking forward to seeing our younger players grow over the next few years in one of the toughest series on the sporting calendar.

And besides, some of the Queensland players coming through now haven’t really experienced the sort of losses the older players have gone through prior to their dominance from 2006 to 2017. Always winning can breed apathy, which is a hard mental block to get past. It won’t do Queensland any harm to have lost this series to a better NSW side.

Having said all of that though, I’d hate for us to be Blue-washed so for the last time in 2018, [Billy Moore voice] QUEENSLANDER!