Almanac Rugby League – Rabbit in the Vineyard: Origin, Game 1 – The Maroons get it done…again!



2024 Origin 1
Sydney Olympic Stadium, 5 June 2024.


Queensland get it done … again.


The Maroons are in the box seat to win yet another Origin series after a strong win over the Blues in Sydney.

Even if NSW can regroup and win Game 2 in Melbourne, with Game 3 to be played at the Cauldron (Lang Park) in Brisbane, QLD are clearly in the ascendancy.

Amongst the eight changes new Blues coach Michael Maguire made for Game 1, the selection of Wallabies bound Joseph Sua’ali’i, divided opinion.

As has been the case since 1980, NSW seem to have made Origin selection opinion and criticism an art form.

Sua’ali’i is bound for the riches of rugby union at the end of this season. For many Fox League experts, and other armchair critics south of the Tweed, this (apparently) meant the red pen should have been out to put a line through the young man’s name.

With QLD already in the lead courtesy of a converted try to the best three games a year hooker in rugby league, Ben Hunt, a dangerous tackle in only the seventh minute saw referee Ashley ‘Calvin’ Klein wave big Joseph to the sheds.

QLD assistant coach Nate Myles, known during his playing days for heading with his head, channelled his inner Chris ‘Choppy’ Close on the sideline and provided Sua’ali’i with a mixture of feedback and directions to the rooms.

Recalled NSW fullback James Tedesco put the 12-man Blues back in the contest with a try, however a brace to the ‘Hammer’, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, saw QLD take a comfortable 20-6 lead into the break.

To NSW’s credit, they scored first after half-time, through a great kick from the much-maligned Nico Hynes for Lomax to score in the corner.

A player down, the Blues ‘hung in’ for much of the second half.

The turning point: with the Maroons leading 20-10, Hynes narrowly missed a 40/20 kick, before the evergreen QLD captain Daly Cherry-Evans landed one for his team.

The occasional hooker Ben Hunt then scored the decisive try for QLD to extend their lead.

Earlier in the day, the Footy Almanac Tanunda Cub rendezvous of JTH and RITV was cancelled, following the SMS message:

OUT: Harms (COVID)

JTH still was able to make the following post-match observation regarding the Maroon’s three try hero, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow:

“Hammer is in the conversation with the Pearl (Steve Renouf) as silkiest mover ever.”

The Pearl’s biographer is on to something here.

I pointed out that the Hammer spent the last couple of years of his schooling in the hollowed corridors of Brisbane Grammar School, whilst signed with the QLD rugby union.

Despite all that speed, The Hammer never made it on the track for GPS athletics.


Nor did the Hammer play for the Reds.

The Cowboys snuffed that scenario out.

The MCG awaits now for game two.

SEN will no doubt field callers all day today, and tomorrow, and the next day: “drop Hynes, drop Luai”, “Luai is hopeless without Cleary beside him”, “keep Teddy, he should not have dropped in the first place!”, “bring back Moses!” (that is Mitchell Moses, not the Old Testament leader Moses)

QLD: Munster is injured, in comes Dearden. The Maroons did not miss a beat.


QLD 38: Hunt 4’, Tabuai-Fidow 18’ & 23’, Hunt 66’, Coates 70’, Tabuai-Fidow 78’ Goals: Holmes 7/7.

NSW: Tedesco 13’, Lomax 43’. Goals: Hynes 1/2.


NSW: Tedesco, To’o, S Crichton, Suaalii, Lomax, Luai, Hynes, Trbojevic (capt), Robson, Haas, Martin, A Crichton, McInnes. bench: Yeo, Olakau’atu, Leniu, Young. 18th Burton.

QLD: Walsh, Coates, Holmes, Tabuai-Fidow, Taulagi, Dearden, Cherry-Evans, Cotter, Hunt, Collins, Su’A, Nanai, Carrigan. bench: Grant, Fotuaika, Hopgood, Cobbo. 18th Kaufusi.

Sent off: Sua’ali’i 7’

Half time: QLD 20 – NSW 6.


State of Origin 2024 | Blues v Maroons | Match Highlights (

NSW press conference:

Maguire addresses the Sua’ali’i send off | NSW Blues Press Conference | Fox League (

QLD press conference:

Maroons: Game 1 | Watch (



Charles Melton ‘The Kirche’ 2021 Shiraz Cabernet

Another wonderful Barossa cellar door – the lovely Argentinian host made me feel welcome, as the winery’s cat snuggled up beside the fire.

Homepage – Charles Melton Wines


Murray and Rabbit take in Origin sans the Covid-plagued JTH


Photo courtesy of Russel Hansen



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About Russel Hansen

Russel Hansen Has worked in schools for over thirty years – as a teacher, coach, coach educator, sports coordinator and in pastoral care roles. Whilst at Brisbane Boys’ College as Director of Athletics, he led teams to six GPS premierships in track and field, and cross country. He has coached at all levels from school to international, most recently coaching a lad (100m personal best 10.34secs) to the Australian U/20 4x100m relay squad for the 2022 world U/20 championships. He is married to Heidi, a Primary school principal, and is father to two adult daughters. Twitter: @Russel_Hansen


  1. Ian Hauser says

    DCE and Ben Hunt – a pair of veteran Origin specialists; Carrigan, Collins and Cotter – now seasoned Origin players; Dearden, Hammer and Cobbo (with Taulagi not far behind) – the future.

    And all pretty settled.

    The future looks in good hands.

  2. John Harms says


    Very disappointed we weren’t at The Club for the ritual Origin opener.

    Interesting game, but to my eye not a classic.

    Fatty Vautin is an unlikely genius. If you re-visit his pre-match he predicts Ben Hunt will score a couple of tries.

    The Hammer is a delight to watch.

    I thought Dearden was good but the commentators didn’t really mention him. I thought he ran just the right number of times.

    I thought Prop in the Canefield’s three-Cs were very good up front.

    I thought Tedesco led superbly.

    I thought the Channel 9 commentary – especially from the analysts during the game – was very good. Especially on defensive strategy when a man down.

    Unpopular view: I thought the Walsh incident was very difficult to adjudicate. Greg Alexander nails it on the Fox commentary in the moment. I’m assuming Klein was bound by the letter of the law. I would have gone for 10 min in the bin, because Walsh slipped down.

    DCE-Coates try was a cracker. I’d love to know what they were saying to each other on the way up field. Did Coates call for the kick? Did DCE tell him he was kicking?

    Looking forward to heading to the MCG.

  3. Graeme O says

    ‘hollowed corridors’ of Brisbane Grammar’ wins Freudian typo of the week.

  4. Russel Hansen says

    JTH –

    Yes, a good game, but not a classic – would have been great to enjoy a meal and beverages at the TC – bloody COVID !

    Agree: re the send off: 12 v 13 for that length of time is very challenging for the team a player short – and to the Blues’ credit, they scored first after half time

    Loved the DCE – Coates try too: DCE is like a fine Rockfords red – remember his ‘almost signing with the Titans? he was treated like a leper – booed, booed, and booed some more! Now he is a QLD great !!

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