Origin victory answers an NRL premiership question
WEDNESDAY'S State of Origin decider was, as most predicted, a game for the ages. But despite the expectations of many NSW hopefuls, it was more of the same.
A record Suncorp Stadium crowd witnessed yet another remarkable rags-to-riches Queensland victory that sent a shudder down the spine of Blues supporters. For them, the relief of seeing a pre-match presentation to retiring Johnathan Thurston was merely short-lived pleasure.
But while some queries may have been solved by the stunning result, many more questions are left unanswered.
Winning 11 of the past 12 series, Queensland has seemingly killed off the rep career of another coach - the fourth in those dozen years. But who replaces Laurie Daley?
Following 18 games for the Blues and not a single series win to show for it, halfback Mitchell Pearce is destined for a future in club footy. Who, though, jumps into that No.7 jersey with authority, and confidence?
After game one of this series many - me included - sung the praises of NSW prop Andrew Fifita. But, quite obviously, one frost does not make a winter.
And Queensland, going into the decider without Thurston, Matt Scott, Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd, Anthony Milford and Corey Oates, was assumed to be searching in a cupboard almost bare. But any good shopper will attest that shiny labels don't always divulge the quality of the contents.
In essence, we actually didn't learn too much from Wednesday's gripping decider that we didn't already know.
Queensland has a champion core of players who believe in themselves no matter what, and the newcomers - eight in total this series - simply follow their leaders. And the Blues, conversely - as Andrew Johns so perfectly enunciated - just don't get it.
Their smashing win in game one was the springboard for a NSW dynasty to succeed Queensland's decade-long domination. But having 17 players for all three games appeared to breed complacency rather than confidence.
Yet while State of Origin III bared much about both teams and several individuals, the game gave birth to an inescapable question - can any team seriously pose a threat to Melbourne for the NRL premiership trophy?
With the magical trio of Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith back together and playing as well as they ever have, and the Storm sitting at least two points clear at the top of the ladder after its bye this weekend, it is nigh on unbackable.
But this team is more than just the "big three", as the cool, calm and collected Cameron Munster revealed on Wednesday night. Most good judges were aware the kid could play, but his composure on the biggest stage of all was something to behold.
And while he didn't need to prove anything to anyone, during this Origin series Will Chambers has stamped himself the best centre in the game. And unsung prop Tim Glasby will be much better for his two appearances wearing maroon.
Add to that list Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris, New Zealand's two premier forwards, the quickest wingers in the game in Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr, plus the fact that forwards Felise Kaufusi and Dale Finucane were in their respective state camps as shadow players for Origin III, and Melbourne looks invincible.