Whilst the State of Origin concept had started to hit hurdles in the early 1990s, with star players removing themselves from selection due to self-preservation and the advice from their clubs/management, the old girl still had a bit left in her.
The interest may have been waning, but the games themselves… some of them were out of this world.
And it is with that in mind that we come to perhaps the last truly great State of Origin clash, pitting the Croweaters of South Australia against the Big V from Victoria in 1994.
After the huge clash at the MCG in 1989 that saw over 90,000 attend, the Vics made it two on the trot with a narrow win in 1991, but the South Australians hit back in ‘92, with a highly-entertaining 13-point win at Football Park.
They followed that up with another win – a 12-point victory on the road at the MCG to completely regain the crown as the best football state in the country. That made it five of the last seven games that the South Aussies had got over the Vics. Ted Whitten was seething!
Whilst the VFL had turned into the AFL and the footy world seemed to revolve around Melbourne, the noise from across the border indicated that there was still plenty on the line when it came to these games, even if only 31,000 made it to the MCG to watch.
But in 1994, any thoughts that this was a competition players didn’t care about was laid to rest. Sure, there were some stars missing, and sure, in many ways it might have been the last hurrah, but the clash at Football Park in front of 44,000 was as good a contest as you’ll see.
Some have it ranked in the top ten games ever played, and it is time we had a look back at this classic through a more modern lens, applied a few of the modern stats, and assessed just who played the best, who went missing, and how things could have been different.
Let’s jump into the 1994 State of Origin classic between South Australia and Victoria from Footy Park.
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