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Queensland rugby league team
Queensland rugby league team

The Queensland rugby league team represents the Australian state of Queensland in rugby league football. Nicknamed the "Maroons", after the colour of their jersey, the team plays three times a year against arch-rivals New South Wales in the State of Origin series. Coached by Kevin Walters and captained by Daly Cherry-Evans, the team is administered by the Queensland Rugby League and plays all of its home matches at Brisbane's Lang Park (now known as Suncorp Stadium).

Since 1908, a rugby league team representing Queensland has been assembled from players based in the state to compete annually against New South Wales. The team used to play matches against other high-profile foreign and domestic touring teams, but has not played anyone other than New South Wales in several decades. From 1980 onwards, when Queensland was first allowed to select players of local origin even if they were currently at clubs outside its borders, the team's success rate against New South Wales improved dramatically. Until 1987 clubs from both the Brisbane Rugby League and the NSWRL provided players for the side. Maroons players have been chosen exclusively from clubs in the National Rugby League since Game III 2001 when Allan Langer was selected from the Super League. As of 2018, the Maroons have won eleven out of the past thirteen series, including a record-breaking eight successive State of Origin victories between 2006 and 2013.


Queensland had already been playing in their maroon jerseys each year against New South Wales in their sky blue before the split in rugby football between union and league took place. Queensland's captain, Mike Dore, left the rugby union establishment to play the new Northern Union brand of football in 1907 and his decision to switch codes influenced many other Queensland union players including his brother, to join the rugby league ranks. The first Queensland rugby league team ever formed, like the first New South Wales and Australian teams ever formed, was for playing the ground-breaking 1907-08 New Zealand rugby tourists, and was as follows:[2]

1. Roy Allingham, 2. Doug McLean, 3. George Watson, 4. Arthur O'Brien, 5. William Evans, 6. William Abrahams, 7. Mick Dore 8. Jack Horan, 9. Robert Tubman, 10. William Hardcastle, 11. Vic Anderson, 12. Ernest Cartmill, 13. Jack Fihelly

Still some months away from having its own competition, when Queensland first played rugby league against New South Wales in the opening match of the 1908 interstate series they lost 43 – 0.[3] This set the precedent for much of interstate rugby league's early history in Australia. During the 1912 New Zealand rugby league tour of Australia, Queensland lost both its matches against the Kiwis in Brisbane. Again, Queensland played two matches against the Kiwis during the 1913 New Zealand rugby league tour of Australia and again the Maroons lost both.

New South Wales had won every match between the two states until 1922, when the Maroons, with Cyril Connell playing at halfback, achieved their maiden victory. This commenced Queensland's only golden period before the introduction of State of Origin. In 1925 Queensland toured New Zealand and played against the full New Zealand side.[4] The Queensland side was invited to tour ahead of the New South Wales side because Queensland was the more dominant of the two during this period.

During the 1951 French rugby league tour of Australia and New Zealand Queensland played one match against the successful France national rugby league team, a 19-all draw. As the twentieth century progressed, New South Wales proved to be the dominant team. Queensland did not win an interstate series against New South Wales until 1958. The powerful New South Wales Rugby Football League premiership attracted many Queenslanders south of the border, and the "residential" selection policy meant that the Maroons would often be disadvantaged against New South Wales teams containing many Queenslanders playing in the New South Wales club competition.

In the 1970s Queensland only won four matches, and it was decided that if New South Wales won the first two games of the 1980 series that there would be a "State of Origin" selection policy for the last game. This meant that selection would be based on the state a player made his senior debut in, not the state that he currently played in. Queensland's first truly representative team won the first State of Origin match 20–10 on 8 July 1980. After Queensland lost the first two games in 1981 the third match was again a State of Origin match. Queensland also won this game, and all subsequent series have been played under State of Origin selection criteria.

Queensland's overall record in interstate clashes between 1908 and 1981 (non-State of Origin matches) was 54 wins, 8 draws and 159 losses in 221 games. Between 1908 and 1979 Queensland also played matches against a number of touring Test teams.

In the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980, Queensland surprised all in a commanding 20–10 win over New South Wales. Arthur Beetson and Chris Close were the stars for Queensland, but Kerry Boustead scored Queensland's first ever try. This saw the new State of Origin rules applied a fairer game, saw it again in 1981. In 1981, legendary captain Arthur Beetson was ready to play before injury ruled him out, so he became coach of the team, and would remain so for the next three years. It seemed that State of Origin might still be dominated by New South Wales with the Blues ahead 15–0, but a remarkable comeback by Queensland saw them defeat New South Wales 22–15 with young captain Wally Lewis and Chris Close the stars of the comeback win. This match gave rugby league officials the impetus to decide that 1982 should have 2 State of Origin matches and a decider if required.

In 1982, for the first time all three matches of the interstate series were played using 'origin' selection rules. New South Wales won their first State of Origin match in Game One, but this was not enough to stop Queensland winning the second and third games with Mal Meninga, Rod Morris and captain Wally Lewis the heroes for Queensland of the series. The next year New South Wales won the second game, but Queensland dominated the first and the decider winning the series with Wally Lewis being the saviour for Queensland.

At the end of the 1983 seasons in Qld and NSW, the Queensland team also toured Papua New Guinea and England. Their tour of Great Britain saw them play three matches. The first against Hull Kingston Rovers resulted in an 8–6 loss, though the Wally Lewis led Maroons then easily won their remaining matches against Wigan (40–2) and Leeds (58–2).

In 1984, Queensland won the first two games for the series, dominating the series, with Kerry Boustead and Wally Lewis the stars of the series, New South Wales won the final match.

In 1985, Queensland saw their first ever series loss to New South Wales, for the first time, New South Wales were dominate through the series. Queensland's poor performance could be seen as Arthur Beetson retiring as coach or New South Wales halfback Steve Mortimer in good form. Queensland lost the first two matches but won the third match. Under new coach, Wayne Bennett, the 1986 series saw Queensland play a lot better but the scoreboard didn't show, Queensland lost all 3 games, only by small margins for each game, but the fact was New South Wales had whitewashed Queensland.

In 1987, looking for redemption, Queensland lost the first game to New South Wales, but managed to win the last two games giving Wayne Bennett his first series win. Allan Langer debut in the 1987 series saw Queensland win their first series since 1984, Langer went on to play 34 games for Queensland. In the exhibition match fourth game of 1987 in the USA, Queensland couldn't manage to win. The Maroons also toured New Zealand in 1987.

In 1988, the introduction of Queensland-based clubs for the first grade competition Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast, saw more wealth of talent for Queensland. In 1988 and 1989 it was Allan Langer and Wally Lewis's formidable halves partnership that had them dominate both series winning all 6 matches and not letting New South Wales win. Wayne Bennett won the 1988 series while returning coach Arthur Beetson won the 1989 series. As a result, in 1989 a record-breaking twelve Queenslanders were selected to tour with the Australian national team.[5]

In 1990, the New South Wales team managed to win their first game since 1987, and going on to defeat the Queensland team 2–1 in the series, giving Queensland coach Arthur Beetson his first ever series loss with the team. In 1991, it was Queensland legend Wally Lewis, now known as the King, last series. With a new coach, Graham Lowe, Queensland won the first game, before New South Wales won the second. With Lewis's last game, the decider, the Queensland team managed to win the game by two points and give Lewis the perfect sendoff.

For the series 1992 to 1994 it seemed that Wally Lewis was sorely missed, losing a record three series in a row. With veteran Mal Meninga taking over as captain, Lowe continuing as coach, the Queensland team were unable to show any spark against New South Wales. They were able to win a game in each of the series in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The King Wally Lewis took over coaching for the Queensland team in 1993 and 1994, the QRL hoping he would revive some spark to the team.

In 1995, the Queensland team was noticeably hampered being unable to select players from the Super League teams, most notably the Brisbane Broncos. With new coach and former Queensland captain Paul Vautin, the Queensland team were apparently going to be belted by the New South Wales team. It was not to be. In one of the biggest upsets in Origin history, the baby Queensland team defied all betting odds and whitewashed the New South Wales team 3–0. In 1996, New South Wales got their revenge and whitewashed the Queensland team. In 1997, during the Super League War and the rival Super League Tri-series with another Queensland, New South Wales and New Zealand representative teams. Queensland were unable to win the series ending Vautin's reign as coach.

In 1998, Queensland re-employed Wayne Bennett as coach of the team who only wanted a one-year stint at the team. With the Super League War over, Queensland was able to pick a great side again. Allan Langer returned in style in a man of the match appearance guiding the Queensland team to a close 24–23 win in the first game. New South Wales won the second, but Queensland dominated the third and won. With new coach and former Queensland player Mark Murray at the helm the Queensland team won the first before losing the second. In controversial circumstances, Queensland were locked up at 6 all at half-time, scored with 8 minutes to go making it 10–6 seemingly wrapping up the game, but New South Wales scored and missed the conversion to finish the game 10-all, making it the first drawn game and series in State of Origin history. Queensland won the series by retaining the drawn shield. 2000 was a forgettable series, captain Gorden Tallis was sent from the field for dissent to referee Bill Harrigan in a 20–16 loss in Game One. Queensland lost Game Two 28–10 before suffering their worst ever State of Origin defeat 56–16 in Game Three to cap a 3–0 wipewish of the series.

In 2001, Wayne Bennett again took over after their humiliating 3–0 loss in 2000. Queensland won the first game decisively however injuries saw them lose the second game and those injuries were still there for Game Three. This saw coach Bennett take a huge risk, bringing out of retirement Allan Langer to make a miraculous comeback. Although some thought Langer couldn't rise to the challenge, the great halfback inspired Queensland to a win in the final game 40–14. In 2002, Langer again returned however Queensland were thumped in Game One 32–4. Queensland won Game Two 26–18 in spite of a horror debut by winger Justin Hodges who gifted New South Wales two tries via ingoal mistakes. The third game proved to be Langers final game, but a miraculous last minute try by back rower Dane Carlaw saw Queensland draw level with New South Wales 18-all. The game could have been won by Queensland if Lote Tuquri had converted the Carlaw try, but the conversion was wide thus resulting in the second drawn series in Origin history with Queensland retaining the shield.

The 2003 series, marked a period of New South Wales dominance at Origin. New South Wales won a hard fought first game 25–12 before disposing of Queensland 27–4 in Game Two. The Queensland team took their anger out by flogging New South Wales in the dead rubber third game 36–6. Queensland however could not stop New South Wales taking the 2004 series 2–1 even with new coach Michael Hagan, when Brad Fittler came out of representative retirement for New South Wales to help them defeat Queensland. Game One was notable for being the first State of Origin game to go into Golden Point extra time, with Shaun Timmins kicking the winning field goal for New South Wales to win 9–8. Queensland won Game Two 22–18 on the back of an incredible try to winger Billy Slater the game in which Fitter returned. New South Wales wouldn't be denied in Game Three, winning 36–14 on the back of an inspirational performance by Fittler.

The 2005 series again was not much better for Queensland in spite of a Game One win in Golden Point extra time due to an intercept try to Matthew Bowen off a wayward Brett Kimmorley pass. Queensland however failed to dominate the series losing the final two matches to lose again to New South Wales after halfback Andrew Johns made a memorable return for the final two games. Queensland's 2005 series loss marked their third straight series defeat to New South Wales.

As part of the 25 year celebrations in 2005, Queensland named 25 legends for each year before that.[6] Also this players below are the people who have change the game forever and will continue to change it even if they are not playing.

In 2006, former Queensland great Mal Meninga took the helm of coach and he took a big risk in Game One to have 7 debutantes against a formidable New South Wales side. This showed in the opening 30 minutes where mistakes were made and New South Wales dominated on the scoreboard. A comeback in the second half wasn't enough to win, New South Wales getting home 17–16 on the back of a field goal in the final moments by halfback and last minute Blues replacement Brett Finch. This put coach Meninga and captain Darren Lockyer under intense criticism by New South Wales media. The second game however saw the fired up Queensland team defeat New South Wales easily 30–6. In the third and deciding game, Queensland found themselves down 14–4 with 9 minutes to go after some controversial refereeing decisions. However a miraculous comeback started by Johnathan Thurston and Brent Tate and an intercept try by Lockyer saw them steal the win and the series.

In 2007, Queensland were the bookies' favourites for the first time in a long time. Queensland were down 18–6 at half time but came back with 19 unanswered points to win the first game by a score of 25–18. Queensland went on to win the second game 10–6 and win the series. This was Queensland's first win in 12 attempts at Telstra Stadium.

In 2008, Queensland played without Darren Lockyer for the whole series and it showed in the first game in Sydney with Queensland losing 18–10. However, the return match in Brisbane saw Queensland return to form winning 30–0, equalling Queensland's biggest ever victory. The final game was again played at Telstra Stadium, with Queensland being down 10–8 at half time before coming back to win the game 16–10 leaving New South Wales pointless for the second half and on the wrong end of 3 successive series defeats.

The mid-season test against the Kiwis in 2009 saw a record-equalling ten Queensland representatives, including an all maroon backline and front row.[7]

In 2009, the Maroons became the first side to win four consecutive Origin series and were named sporting team of the year at the Queensland Sports Awards in December.[8] In 2010, the Maroons had their 5th consecutive series win becoming the first team to ever do so, whilst also winning the games in a 3–0 clean sweep, the first time Queensland had accomplished this since 1995. Billy Slater was named Man of the Series.

In 2011, the Maroons had their 6th consecutive series win becoming the only team to ever do so. Also winning game III 34–24 and the series 2–1 in front of a record home crowd at Suncorp Stadium. This was also their captain Darren Lockyer's final State of Origin game. Cameron Smith was named both Man of the Match and Series.

In 2012, Queensland won game III 21–20 by a field goal in front of a mostly Maroon crowd at Suncorp stadium, making 7 series wins in a row. The final score was attributed partly to the retirement of Petero Civoniceva. Johnathon Thurston was named Man of the Match and Nate Myles was awarded Man of the Series.

In 2013, Queensland took the series again, for the 8th time in succession, after winning the 3rd game at ANZ Stadium in Sydney 12–10. Brent Tate was awarded Man of the Match.

In 2014, Queensland were defeated in an upset at their home stadium in game 1 of the series, and subsequently lost the 2nd game in Sydney, ending their 8-year winning streak.

In 2015, Queensland reclaimed the State of Origin series, with victories in Game I and Game III, at ANZ Stadium and Suncorp Stadium respectively. Game III of the series set a number of State of Origin records, including most goals in a game by a team (9 goals), biggest winning margin (46 points) and highest ever attendance at Suncorp (52,500), with Cameron Smith making his 36th appearance for Queensland in the same match, drawing level with Darren Lockyer for the record of most appearances for Queensland.

On 2 December 2015, Meninga resigned as Queensland head coach and was appointed head coach of the Australian national rugby league team, succeeding Tim Sheens. Meninga ended his 10-year reign as State of Origin's most successful coach.[9][10]

On 28 December 2015, Kevin Walters was appointed head coach until the end of 2018. Walters, a 20-time Queensland representative and five-time premiership winner with the Brisbane Broncos, served as assistant coach to Meninga during four Origin series wins and coached the Queensland Under 20s side in 2012 and 2014.[11]

In 2016, Cameron Smith broke Queensland's record for most appearances, and captained the Maroons to win Games I and II. Queensland's hopes of their first series whitewash since 2010 were dashed when they lost to NSW in Game III. Corey Parker retired following the match.

2017 would be Johnathan Thurston's last series playing for the Maroons. However, he was injured in a game for the North Queensland Cowboys and was unable to play Game I. Queensland suffered their largest defeat in over 10 years when they lost to NSW 28-4. Thurston returned for Game II and kicked the winning conversion to level the series. However, he was injured again and ruled out for Game III. In his farewell match, which he watched from the coach's box, Queensland defeated NSW 22-6 to win their third straight series and their eleventh from twelve.

Following the end of the 2017 series, coach Kevin Walters had his coaching contract extended for two years.

For the 2018 series, coach Kevin Walters selected Greg Inglis, at the time the top try-scorer in the State of Origin series, as the captain. Significant changes were made to the Queensland team for 2018 following the retirement of key players Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk and the absence of Matthew Scott and Darius Boyd.Queensland then lost to NSW in both 2018& 2019.[12]

Colours and badge

The primary colour of Queensland Maroons is Maroon, which represents the state colour of Queensland. The secondary colour is Gold, with an additional contrasting colour of white.

The Maroons badge was created and used since the club's founding in 1908. It features a football set centrally in a stylised Q representing Queensland. Other badges have been used such as a stylised Q with a Kangaroo next to it.

  • The XXXX 26 year Sponsorship of Queensland Maroons State of Origin Team will come to an end at the conclusion of State of Origin 3 at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.


While the Queensland rugby league team's players mostly come from Queensland, up until 1980 when residential selection criteria were still used, some of New South Wales' most prominent footballers, such as Dally Messenger and Clive Churchill, also played for the Maroons. Queensland's players are some of the most famous athletes Australia produces, with goal-kicking centre Mal Meninga being named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year in 1990, the first rugby league player to ever do so.[13] Since the turn of the century Maroons players have become big name footballers not only in rugby league but in other codes as well. Rugby union's 2003 World Cup Final alone featured four former Queensland players: Brad Thorn playing for the All Blacks, and Mat Rogers, Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor playing for the Wallabies. Former Maroons Karmichael Hunt and Israel Folau were both recruited by the AFL to play Australian rules football[14][15] (and both also currently play professional rugby union).

The Queensland Maroons squads for the 2019 State of Origin Series:

1 – Edrick Lee was originally selected in the extended squad for game two, but withdrew due to injury. He was replaced by Kurt Capewell. 2 – Matt Gillett was originally selected in the squad for game three, but withdrew due to injury. He was replaced by Ethan Lowe, who was replaced in the extended squad by Dylan Napa 3 – Moses Mbye was originally selected on the bench for game three, but switched places with Michael Morgan.

In 2008, the centenary year of rugby league in Australia, the Queensland Rugby League named their best ever 17, selected from all players from 1908–2007.[16]

A list of captains and coaches for the Maroons since State of Origin.

Each January, a squad of 14–15 players on the cusp of Queensland selection, who have yet to debut, gather over a weekend to take part in the Emerging Origin program held at the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane. The program, run by Wayne Bennett and the current Queensland coaching staff, indoctrinates players on Queensland's Origin culture and values, includes player training and meetings with dieticians and sports psychologists.[17]

In 2000, after Queensland's embarrassing series defeat to New South Wales, Bennett returned to coach the Maroons and established the Emerging Origin program in conjunction with the QAS. Before re-taking the job, Bennett phoned then-Queensland Minister for Sport Terry Mackenroth, requesting that if he retake the job, the program receive the support of the government, which Mackenroth agreed to. From the inaugural Emerging Origin squad in 2001, 12 of the players went on to play for Queensland in State of Origin. Since 2001, 51 players who have participated in the Emerging Origin program have represented Queensland in State of Origin.[17][18]


Queensland has had a total of eight different coaches at State of Origin level, all of whom have played for the Maroons previously except for New Zealand's Graham Lowe, the only non-Australian to coach in State of Origin. The list also includes the known coaches from the pre-Origin era and only counts games against NSW. Games against touring teams from New Zealand and Great Britain or Queensland's three game tour of England in 1983 are not counted. Win percentages are listed to the nearest two decimal places.

Wally Lewis / Ron McAuliffe Medal

From 1992 to 2003, this award was the "Wally Lewis Medal", however after 2003 this medal was dedicated to the player of the series from both Queensland and New South Wales, and thus the award for the Queensland Player of the Series was awarded with the Ron McAuliffe Medal.


The most-capped Queensland State of Origin player is Cameron Smith, with 42 caps. The player with the most tries for Queensland in State of Origin history is Greg Inglis, with 18 tries. The player with the most points is Johnathan Thurston, with 220 points.

See also

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