Remembering the Maroons First Lang Park Origin Decider Win in 1983

Photo Credit: Queensland Maroons/Facebook
It was the first time the Maroons won an Origin decider at Lang Park.

The date was June 28, 1983. It was one of many days that “The King” reigned in Brisbane. 26,084 fans turned up that day.

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Game 1 at Lang Park, refereed by the Grasshopper, had been secured by the Maroons 24-12, with The King crossing over for 2 tries and Mark Murray getting another to the Blues 2 tries (by Steve Ella and Eric Grothe).

The game has gone down in folklore however as it was the one that Les Boyd broke the “Big Marn” Darryl Brohman’s jaw with his elbow.

The grasshopper didn’t send Boyd off and the Big Marn, who had been widely expected to be picked for Australia three days later lost his opportunity that turned out to be his best.

Boyd was not even cited by the NSWRL, and in fact was due to play in that game for Australia against New Zealand until Charlie Gibson, the secretary of Penrith where Brohman played his club football, cited him, eventually leading to a 12 month ban.

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Boyd also got involved in an exchange of punches with Paul Vautin, which threatened to turn the pitch into mayhem until Dave Brown, the Maroons front-rower, landed one on the chin of Boyd, which calmed everything down.

Game 2 1983

Game 2 appeared to be a great opportunity for the Maroons to shut the gate on the series, with several NSW players out due to injury. (Unlike today, the players had to play for their clubs between Origin fixtures). Virtually the whole Blues backline was taken up by players from “reigning premiers”, the Parramatta Eels.

In fact, the Eels provided eight of the Blues starting line-up, which remains a record for an Origin game.

The game was played on a very muddy Sydney Cricket Ground in front of 21,620.

Mal Meninga opened the scoring and converted his own try, matched by a Blues try from Neil Hunt, converted by Mick Cronin. 

A great kickthrough by Marty Gurr on a quagmire left Steve Ella with what ended up being the match-winning try.

However, the King appeared to have gone over under the posts midway through the second half, which with the conversion would have put the Maroons in front but the ref blew up for a shepherd by Gene Miles and the Blues held on 10-6 to take the 1983 series into a decider at Lang Park for the first time.

Peter Sterling was named game 2, Man of the Match.

Photo Credit: NRL

The Maroons line-up for game 3 (Note: Brad Tessmann’s name has 2 n’s)

Photo Credit: WWOS.com.au

Game 3 1983

So it came to game 3.

Peter Sterling was injured, being replaced by Steve Mortimer, a pivotal moment in their careers as Mortimer went onto maintain the spot for the next 2 years for the Blues and for Australia.

It didn’t take long for Mark Murray to break through tackles to set up Greg Conescu for the first try.

Then Mel Meninga was the beneficiary of a beautiful chip kick from The King, only to be denied by an extraordinary tackle forcing Meninga to knock the ball on over the line.

Steve Stacey went over in the right hand side corner for the Maroons second try.

Brad Tessmann’s fantastic offload to South Sydney’s flying machine Mitch Brennan led to the third Maroon’s try under the black dot.

“The King” put the tin lid on the first half with a drop goal to send the Maroons in at half time, 21-0 up.

The opening try of the second half came as Mel Meninga stepped off his right foot, drew his man and laid an inch perfect pass for Mitch Brennan to cross for his 2nd try of the game.

Not long after, “The King” setup Mark Murray to break the line and send a dodgy pass to Bryan Niebling who put himself on the scoresheet, taking the pass on the half-volley in stride to touch down.

Having been completely mauled to death, the Blues found some ticker and threw the ball around, Chris Anderson going over for the first Blues try, well into the 2nd half.

However the Maroons were not finished, big Dave Brown powering over after Steve Stacey had set the defence on the back foot.

Steve Mortimer then scored a soft try after a high bomb from Kevin Hastings was lost under pressure by Colin Scott followed by another from the Blues winger,  Chris Anderson, that made it 37-18 to the Maroons.

Steve Stacey couldn’t grab the bobbling ball from a kick through after a Blues full length counter-attack finished with Chris Anderson’s hat-trick 3rd try.

The King wanted more tries in the dying minutes and so opted to take a tap penalty which opened up an exhausted Blues defence, enabling Gene Miles to score the final try of the series.

And there it was Queensland’s first ever State of Origin Lang Park Decider Victory.

Another masterclass from “The King’ led to a second Man of the Match title in the 1983 series for Walter James Lewis.

Will 2024 deliver the same outcome?

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As Steve Haddan reported in his fantastic BRL History tome, 1983 saw Bob Hawke as Australian PM, Alan Bond in the America’s Cup and the BRL had a dip in crowds, though a try became worth 4 points instead of the previous three. Tommy Raudonikis was sent off in Round 2 for Brothers in his swansong season, then knocked out in Round 8.

Redcliffe went on to win the 1983 BRL minor premiership with their 38-10 win against Souths at Dolphin Oval, Easts blew their opportunity by losing to Wynnum-Manly 38-10 at Kougari Oval.

At the end of the 1983 season, young Coach Wayne Bennett was Coaching Director at Souths Juniors but was given an opportunity to take the head coach role at Souths and resurrect his coaching career, when Bob McCarthy decided to stand down after four years at Davies Park.

When Bob McCarthy’s Magpies went down to Valleys 30-22 in the minor semi final(3rd vs winner of 4th vs 5th) at Lang Park, McCarthy exclaimed “Wally Lewis is the closest thing i have seen to Bob Fulton and I’ve been around since 1954.”

In the Major BRL Semi-Final(1st v 2nd) of 1983, Easts beat Minor Premiers, Redcliffe, 11-5, including a field goal for Trevor Paterson, being his first since playing for the under 11s in Toowoomba.

The preliminary Final was won easily by Redcliffe over Valleys, 28-10, Valleys coach Ross Strudwick blaming the ref’s penalty count of 10-3 in favour of Redcliffe in the first half.

This was the last game Wally Lewis played for Valleys, after president Tom Dooley told him they could no longer afford him, reluctantly Lewis went to Wynnum-Manly.

The Rothmans Medal of 1983 was awarded to Trevor Paterson of Easts, a 20 year old, unemployed Boilermaker, just pipping Gene Miles by 1 point.

Some 25,000 spectators turned up for the 1983 Grand Final on 18 September at Lang Park, it had been 36,000 in 1982. The decider was won by Easts 14-6 with Rothmans Medalist, Paterson, man of the match, though he credited half-back Wayne Lindenberg (who heavily influenced Easts’ premiership title wins in 1977 and 1978) with the main reason Easts got up.

At the 67-minute mark, when only 2 points up, Lindenberg sliced through the tired Redcliffe defence twice to set Brett Tengdahl off on a 70-metre run to the line and then put Brad Backer away down the wing, a few minutes later. For Easts’ Coach John Lang, the title would be upgraded 20 years later when winning an NRL Premiershp with the Penrith Panthers.

A Golden year for the BRL even if the crowds were down.

EASTS WINNING SIDE:

  • G.Payne
  • M.McDonald
  • B.Tengdahl
  • R.Kelly
  • B.Backer
  • W.Lindenberg
  • L.Briggenshaw (captain)
  • B.Le Man
  • T. Paterson
  • G.Jones
  • S.McNally
  • M.Sahl
  • C.Heugh
  • L.Bogle(Reserve)
  • J.Lang(Coach)

The Maroons Legends Who Took The Field In the 1983 State Of Origin Series:

Colin Scott played Full Back for all 3 games.
  • Born in Charters Towers.
  • Played Junior and Senior footy for Souths in Townsville with Gene Miles.
  • Played for Easts Tigers in Coorparoo in 1980 (he was put in the reserves yet was still selected for the Qld team) and then Wynnum-Manly Seagulls from 1981-1987.
  • Played for Castleford in UK 1985-1987 in the off-season.
  • Played in the interstate series before Origin began, then played Origin until 1987 when Gary Belcher took his spot.
  • Played for the Broncos in their inaugural season in 1988 in the NSWRL Premiership.
  • Scott is FOG #2 because he stood aside for Arthur Beetson who was made FOG #1
  • First Maroons Origin Full-Back, part of the Wynnum-Manly premierhsip winning teams in 1982 and 1986.
  • Missed the 1984 Origin Decider after getting his first-ever suspension.

“I was the number one in the very first Origin. I was the number one for the Broncos when they first started. I was the number one for Wynnum Manly when they won their first ever A grade grand final.”

“I remember when we went in the dressing rooms at Lang Park and I was getting changed. Arthur walked over and said ‘how are you going Scotty?’ and I couldn’t believe it.”

“I went down to the phone box after the game, rang my mum and told her that Arthur Beetson knew my name.”

The QRL wrote a great article about Colin which you can find here

John Ribot played Wing for Game 1.
  • Born in Brisbane as John Ribot de Bresac but known as John Ribot.
  • He played club footy for Valleys, Wests, and Redcliffe; then in Sydney for the Newtown Jets, Western Suburbs Magpies, and Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles
  • In 1980, Roy Masters (coaching the Magpies at the time) moved Ribot from Lock to the Wing
  • His international career included being part of the 1982 Invincibles touring squad and scoring 4 tries for Australia against PNG in Port Moresby in 1982
  • Ribot represented NSW in 1978 based on th residential rules of the time.
  • On retirement Ribot became the QRL Development Manager and the original CEO for the Broncos in 1988.
  • He challenged the NSW stranglehold on footy and ran a campaign to hold the NSWRL Final in Brisbane at the ANZ Stadium (QE II Stadium) which had a 60,000 capacity at the time.
  • Ribot’s post playing career included being CEO of the Super League and helping facilitate a peace deal with the ARL, as well as being Chairman of the Queensland Roar FC and on the board of the TAB Qld. A great summary of his playing career here as well as the teammates he played with.
Terry Butler played on the wing for Game 2.
  • Born in Kyogle, NSW
  • Played Junior Football for Souths in Townsville with Gene Miles.
  • Played for Wynnum-Manly Seagulls in the BRL, where he scored the first try in the 1982 Grand Final.
  • Played against Steve Stacey regularly (Eastern Suburbs) in the BRL.
  • Sadly passed away in 2016, from cancer at only 58, in Townsville.
Mal Meninga played Centre for all 3 games.
  • Born in Bundaberg.
  • Played club footy for Southern Suburbs Magpies (1979-1985); then for St Helens in the UK 1984-1985; and finished his career with 9 seasons at the Canberra Raiders until 1994.
  • Was a serving police officer with the QPS until 1985, where he first met Wayne Bennett.
  • When he retired from the game he held the record of most Australian appearances and the top points scorer in Origin history.
  • He is the only player to be selected for 4 Kangaroo Tours, in which he played in every test match in all four tours.
  • As a goal-kicking swashbuckling centre, he was one of the last toe-pokers, he kicked 181 goals for Australia and 69 for the Maroons in Origin (as well as 9 in the Interstate series).
  • He captained the Kangaroos for 23 test matches and the Maroons for 3 Origin series(the Maroons lost all 3).
  • As coach of the Maroons he presided over the greatest Origin streak with 9 wins between 2006 and 2015. When he took over in 2006, the Blues had won the three previous Origin series, Meninga’s teams would win 8 straight, with his only lost series being 2014.
    See Mal’s NRL Hall of Fame entry here and a doco on the big man here.
Gene Miles played all 3 games.
  • Born in Townsville.
  • Played junior club footy at Souths in Townsville then seniors at Wynnum-Manly from 1980 to 1987 before joining the Broncos in their inaugural season in 1988 until 1991 and finishing his career at Wigan in the UK in 1991 and 1992. (The BBC did a great series inside the club which featured Gene. Footy fans will love it — you can see an episode here.
  • He played 14 times for Australia between 1982 and 1988 including with The Invincibles in 1982.
  • He started his career at Centre but switched to playing in the second-row at the Broncos.
  • The King considers Gene as “the best player he ever played with
  • Great podcast put together by the FOGS team with Gene here and a Face-to-Face here
Steve Stacey played on the wing for Games 1 and 3.
  • Played his junior club football for East Carina Juniors then made his first grade debut for Eastern Suburbs at the age of 17.
  • Played 262 games for Eastern Suburbs, 6 games for Brothers and 16 games for Salford in England
  • With Eastern Suburbs, he played alongside John Lang in the 1977 BRL Premiership winning team then under Lang as coach when Eastern Suburbs won the BRL Premiership again in 1983.
  • Great interview with Steve about his career here
Chris “Choppy” Close played on the Wing for Game 2.
  • Born in Cunnamulla.
  • Played Junior footy for the Wondai Wolves and made A-Grade debut for the Beaudesert Kingfishers then joined the Valleys in 1979; Redcliffe in 1980-81; Manly-Warringah in 1982-87; and then joined the newly formed Gold Coast Chargers in 1988 until 1991, as well as a stint with Hull KR in 1988-89.
  • He played in his first Interstate game at the age of 20 and played four further games, including the famous back handed slap on Eric Grothe to clear him out of the ruck, enabling Close to dive over from dummy-half to secure the Interstate win in 1981.
  • He then represented the Maroons 9 times in Origin.
  • He became Maroons Team manager in 1995.
  • Choppy was not very impressed with Gus Gould challenging the Maroons spirit in 2005 and so when Matt Bowen went over for the match-winning try of Origin 1, he stuck the middle finger up from the bench, directly at Gould. “It really did have a lasting legacy because I think I was acting on behalf of every other Queenslander at that moment in my life and when I shot that finger up to New South Wales and particularly to Gus Gould – I think everyone could resonate with that,” he said on the Pat & Heals show on SEN.
Mitch Brennan played on the Wing for Game 3.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Before his footy career took off in Australia, Brennan trialed and was offered a contract with the Totonto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, but visa problems brought him home.
  • He played his junior footy in varous places including Charleville and West End then made his NSWRL debut on a pre-season trial match for St George under the pseudonym of “Mickey Lane” because he was in contract negotiations with Souths in West End. He was rumbled and fined $500; did sign for Souths Magpies but also ended up playing for St George in 1978-80; then South Sydney 1981-82; then Redcliffe 1983-85; then finished hs career at the Canberra Raiders 1986-88.
  • He played 4 Origin games and scored 3 tries in those 4 games.
  • Scored a hat trick of tries in the final game of the 1983 Season, to help Redcliffe claim the minor premiership.
The King, Wally Lewis played at Five-Eighth and captained the side for all 3 games.
  • Born in Hawthorne. His dad Jimmy was playing First grade for Wests and Souths; his mum June represented Queensland at Netball. Not a bad pedigree!
  • Wally started playing in the Cannon Hill Stars. At six years old, he started in the under 8s and played there for five years; then moved to Valleys as a junior whch led to him playing for the senior team from 1978 in the BRL. He went to Brisbane State High School.
  • Wally represented the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union team alongside Mark Ella, Glen Ella and Gary Ella as well as Michael O’Connor and Tony Melrose. The QRU ordained that Wally would not be picked for future rep teams if he continued to play League as well, which focused him on playing League in the BRL with Valleys.
  • Wally’s Queensland debut (under State of Residence) in 1979 was followed by his Origin debut in 1980, which was controversial as the pundits felt Norm Carr of Wests was a better option. This was soon forgotten as Wally set up Kerry Boustead to score the Maroon’s very first Origin try, the first of a boat-load of Origin assists over the next eight years.
  • Whlst playing for Valleys at lock alongside Ross Strudwick against Norths that included Mark Murray, Lewis was spark out after a ball and all tackle on Mark Graham. Dr Tom Dooley (Valleys) and Dr Keith Woodhead (Norths) ran onto the field and mouth-to-mouth had to be administered to the King. Dr Dooley diagnosed a laryngeal spasm at the time.
  • His 31 Origin appearances only yielded 7 tries, a goal and 2 field goals but the statisticians will have lost count with how many tries he created for others, especially with the long cut-out pass that he developed in his union days and honed in his backyard with his brothers, Heath and Scott. His Origin record was 19 wins and 12 losses.
  • He represented Australia 35 times, scoring 12 tries, clocking up 30 wins and 5 losses.
    Today Tonight ran a feature on The King when he was only 23 and 60 minutes also here.
    In Brisbane there will only ever be one King!
Mark Murray played halfback for all 3 games.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Originally based in the Darling Downs, Murray played junior footy at the Millmerran Rams.
  • In 1978 he came to Brisbane to attend Teachers College and was about to sign for Wynnum-Manly when Norths president Bob Bax offered him more money. After three years at Norths Devils, including a premiership win in 1980 under Graham Lowe, he played the 1982 season for Valleys with the King and then from 1983-86 at Redcliffe.
  • He played 7 times for Australia and 15 times for the Maroons.
  • He sustained an eye injury which forced early retirement and the start of a coaching career at the age of 29.
Brad Tessmann played Prop for all 3 games.
  • Born in Kingaroy.
  • He captained the Queensland Under 18 team in 1978.
  • Tessmann played junior footy at the Kinagroy Redants and then moved into the first grade team at the age of 17. He joined Sourthern Suburbs in the BRL from 1980 to 1983; then Redcliffe in 1984; Eastern Suburbs from 1985 to 1987; and then signed for the inaugural season of the Broncos in 1988
  • 1983 saw Tessmann get a call up to the Australian side to play New Zealand at Lang Park but the night before he got food poisoning and was constantly throwing up. Luckily, Coach Arthur Beetson stayed patient and he ended up playing for most of the game.
Greg Conescu played Hooker for all 3 games.
  • Born in Brisbane to Romanian parents.
  • Played junior footy for Norths St Josephs and made his First Grade debut in 1979 for Norths, playing in their Premiership winning team in 1980. He stayed at Norths until 1983 then went to Redcliffe from 1985 to 1987, joining the Broncos for their inaugural season in 1988.
  • Wayne Bennett controversially dropped Conescu in favour of Kerrod Walters despite Conescu being in the Australian side.
  • He played 20 Origin games and 9 times for his country.
Darryl Brohman played Prop for Game 1.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Played junior footy at Norths but while still at Wavell State High School he made his first grade debut.
  • He joined the Penrith Panthers in 1979 and played 71 games for them, including as captain for 2 seasons until signing for the Canterbury Bulldogs 1984-85 before returning to the Panthers for 1986-87.
  • As well as the infamous Origin Game 1 in 1983, where Les Boyd’s shocking elbow broke his jaw, the Big Marn also represented the Maroons in Game 2 of the 1986 series and this time attracted a shocking knee to the face by Steve “Blocker” Roach. Unlike the Grasshopper not punishing Boyd’s elbow, Blocker did go to the bin for his transgression.
Dave Brown was interchange for Game 1 and played prop for Games 2 and 3.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Played his junior footy with Kingaroy then joined Souths at 19 years old in 1978. He was the Souths enforcer for the 1979 BRL Grand final but went down 26-0 to Valleys. See the full game here. Then, he played for Souths in the 1980 grand final, going down to Norths. (See the full game here, though resolution is not great.) He then played for the Eastern Suburbs (1981-82); Manly Sea Eagles (1983-84); and back to Eastern Suburbs (1985-86). That was his journey before cashing in and playing for Hull FC in the UK.
  • He finished his career at Redcliffe, where he continued the trend of losing in the grand final, this time to Brothers in 1987.
  • Brown’s 10 Origin appearances and 5 for Australia culminated in 1 try in the Origin decider in 1983; though it’s best not to check the replay as even Big Dave thinks he got away with one there and credits The King for telling the ref it was a try — so what else could the ref do but award it?
Bryan Niebling played second row for all 3 games.
  • Born in Murgon.
  • Got the nickname “Horse” when he was boarding at Tommy Duggan’s mother-in-law’s house at Chermside. His landlady told Tommy that Bryan ate like a horse; so Tommy being the king of nicknames called him “Horse” and it stuck.
  • Played Junior Footy at Murgon (population 3,000 but produced Brian and “The Pearl” Steve Renouf), then joined Valleys in 1980; then Redcliffe in 1984; and signed for the Broncos in their inaugural season in 1988, before performing the tradition of a payday swansong at Hull KR in the UK.
  • He was best man at the King’s wedding and the King was best man at Bryan’s wedding.
  • He played 9 Origin games for the Maroons and 13 games for Australia
  • A few clips from Niebling’s BRL days here.
Paul “Fatty” Vautin played second row for Game 1 and Lock for Games 2 and 3.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Played junior footy at Wests Mitchelton; went to the Origin Factory at Padua College in Kedron; then played for Wests in 1978. He was coaxed out of Brisbane to Manly-Warringah, where he stayed for a decade, before going to St Helens in 1988-89 and then coming back to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
  • He had 22 appearances for the Maroons, crossing for 2 tries and 13 appearances for Australia.
  • He coached a young Maroons side that were very much underdogs to a 3-0 Origin series win in 1995; but then led his team to a 3-0 series defeat in 1996 when conidered favourites.
  • In 1988, Fatty got his first commentary gig, alongside David “Thirsty” Morrow on the ABC. In true Fatty fashion, he dropped an F-bomb thinking he was not going out live, when it turned out he was. Despite this, his broadcasting career took off 6 years later.
  • The Footy Show with the Fat man at the helm was priceless, here are some highlights:
    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    and here are some Dare Devil Dudes.
Wally Fullerton-Smith played lock for Game 1 and second row for Games 2 and 3.
  • Born in Roma.
  • He played his junior footy with Cities at Roma and made his First Grade debut for Redcliffe at the age of 19, having only started playing when he was 16 in 1980. He stayed with the Dolphins until 1986 but also played for Tonneins in the French Division 1, as well as for Leeds in 1984-85, before finishing his Australian career at the St George Dragons between 1987 and 1992, with a final season in the French league at Cannes in 1992/93.
  • He had 12 appearances for the Maroons and 8 for Australia.
  • Wally talking to Peter Psaltis on 4BC here.
Brett French was interchange for Games 1 and 2.
  • Born in Roma
  • He started his senior career with Wynnum-Manly, where he scored the match winning try to win the BRL Premiership in 1982(team included Colin Scott, Gene Miles, Greg Dowling, Mark Zillman and Terry Butler). He then went to St Helens in 1985; then came back to play for the North Sydney Bears the following year until 1989; and then finished his career at the Gold Coast Seagulls in 1990/91
  • He started in 5 Origin matches, 2 in 1984 and all 3 in 1988.
  • Brett’s brother also played for the Maroons (all 3 games in 1985,’86 and ’87).
Bruce Astill was interchange for Game 3.
  • Born in Brisbane
  • He played his junior footy for Souths Acacia Ridge and Played A Grade for Souths Magpies at the age of 19 in 1974 and went on to captain Souths to their Premiership win in 1981
  • In 1982 he had quite a roller-coaster as this video shows. The BRL Dally M Awards lasted only 2 seasons but long enough for Anstill to be awarded Superstar of the Year award; however, the award was received a few days after he had been banned from playing in the Grand Final for what was considered a kick towards the King who didn’t flinch.
  • He was on the bench in 1980 and interchange in Game 3 of the 1983 series.
Ross Henrick was interchange for Game 2.
  • Born in Brisbane and sadly passed away in 2005 at the age of 50.
  • Nicknamed the angry due to his size and competitiveness.
  • He played his junior footy for Norths and then into the seniors then he went to Redcliffe where he played for 4 seasons until he returned to Norths(1979-1982) and was in the team that won the BRL Premiership in 1980. The his final stop was at Valleys from 1983 to 1985, a good interview with him whilst skipper at Valleys here.
  • Henrick played 3 Origin games for the Maroons.
  • Henrick coached Valleys to win 3 BRL Premierships and later coached Wavell State High School’s Rugby League team.
Gavin Jones was interchange for Game 3.
  • Born in Brisbane.
  • Jones played Junior footy for Souths Woodridge; then played for Easts when he was selected for the 1983 Origin game as an interchange. Hr had a season at Leeds in 1984/85 and signed for North Sydney in 1986, where he had a great debut season which led to him playing all 3 Origin games in ’86 but he broke his arm in the end of season playoffs ruling him out of a Kangaroos tour.
  • He had a total knee construction in 1987, forcing him to miss the season. However, he came back from the surgery in great form, only to then be injured again in 1991. He made it back for the finals, where North Sydney only just failed to reach their first grand final for 48 years. He spent his final season at Cronulla-Sutherland in 1996.

Published 27-June-2024