Almanac Rugby League: Three books to commemorate 40 years of State of Origin


2020 marks the fortieth anniversary of rugby league’s iconic State of Origin concept. Introduced as a last gasp effort to sustain the moribund interstate matches between New South Wales and Queensland, ‘Origin’, as it is known to the game’s followers, was an instant success and, within a decade, became the pinnacle of the code, surpassing international football as the must-watch matches of the year.


At least three titles have been released this year to commemorate this milestone. They vary in approach and presentation but each is, in its own way, a valuable addition to the aficionado’s library. Christmas gift, anyone?




Liam Hauser, State of Origin 40 Years: The fine line between winning and losing (Sydney: Gelding Street Press, 2020).


This is the third edition of Hauser’s definitive text on State of Origin, following on from State of Origin 30 Years (2010) and State of Origin 35 Years (2015). Painstakingly researched, including watching every match on DVD, Hauser presents a detailed description and analysis of each match and series. The comprehensive text is supported by a generous selection of action photos, full statistical data, and high quality production and presentation values.  It is both a textbook of the competition as well as a reference book those who want both the story and the details. RRP around the $40 mark for this hardcover edition. (Liam is a regular contributor to the Almanac, writing about rugby league, cricket and music.)




Alan Whiticker, The State of Origin Companion: Interstate rugby league since 1908 (Sydney: New Holland Publishers, 2020).


Alan Whiticker is pre-eminent among writers on rugby league in Australia with a string of publications to his name. The strength of Whiticker’s book is his coverage of interstate rugby league since the code’s introduction in Australia in 1908. This is a reference book par excellence and sits well beside other texts such as Ian Collis’ The A to Z of Rugby League Players. Although it may not have the stylish presentation of the other two volumes mentioned here, Whiticker’s book is a rugby league researcher’s heaven with its great detail of time, place and players. RRP around the $30 mark for this softcover edition. (Alan has been a guest contributor to the Almanac, most recently covering the 2020 Grand Final from a Penrith perspective.)




Martin Lenehan, 40 Years of State of Origin: The magic, the moments, the memories (Sydney: Bauer Books, 2020)


Lenehan, author of 110 Years of Rugby League, has perhaps the biggest and glossiest of the three volumes mentioned here. Essentially a coffee table book, big on images, beautifully presented, and containing stories of leading players and recounting iconic Origin tales throughout, this is the easy-on-the-eye, page-through book you want to look at and reminisce about without having to take in too much detail. RRP around the $50 mark for this hardcover edition.


Three books, three styles, each one worthwhile in its own way. Perhaps it’s simply a case of what you’re looking for. Happy reading!


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