State of Origin 2022: Lote Tuqiri and Queensland Maroons TBA 20 years later

Twenty years ago, in the boardroom of the famous XXXX Brisbane brewery, the most famous rugby league player made the Queensland Rugby League unveil plans for the biggest trick in the history of the State of Origin, when three small letters became part of its folklore. Rugby League: TBA.

A year after impressively bringing Allan Langer home from the UK to win the series’s decision, Queensland coach Wayne Bennett devised a way to use a judicial vacuum that left the two states in a row before second game in 2002.

A little-known rule that allowed a New Wales or Queensland player not to be named for his state at the beginning of a weekly camp and then build any suspension for his team days before an Origin match, and had rugby World of Arms Championship. Even the Maroons admitted that he was not in the spirit of the game.

Speaking to all the key players about the destruction of Lote Tuqiri, when QRL president John McDonald read only 16 names in the team’s announcement to allow the Broncos winger to serve a sentence and return for the transnational conflict in Brisbane, we remember a strange week. Schadenfreude origin.

‘I had no idea’ plan

Lote Tuqiri: “We played Dragons last week and they put me in the report [for a dangerous throw on Ben Ross]. I thought after the game, “yes, it was not too bad”. But I forgot the transport points. I was told after the game and then I started to get angry. Do you want to play Origin and represent Queensland? We wanted to do a better account of ourselves after the first game, when Andrew Johns was in control. It was a very nervous moment for me, and then I was facing the punishment of a match. “I knew there were voices in the background about ‘how can we overcome this?'”

Wayne Bennett: “It was my idea. We were desperate. I knew we needed Lote with what he brought, and the rules were the rules at the time. We just used them to our advantage. There was no one much smarter than him [former QRL general manager] Ross Livermore on the rules of the game. I remember talking to him about it and he said, ‘No, we can do that, Wayne.’ I said, “Let’s do it, Ross.” “It was the year after we brought Alf home, so we were quite warm at the time.”

Gene Miles, Queensland Election President: “Wayne came back in 2001 after the loss of 2000, and he brought me with him and then there was a little mixing with the selectors. He said, “I want Jin to be the president of the selectors and I do not care who else we put there.” He said, “Why couldn’t we do that?” We obviously approached Ross and said, “This is what we want to do, is it possible?”

The announcement – at the brewery

Gene Miles: “I thought Wayne was crazy because I did not think we would ever get away with it. Wayne thought so, he was desperate to have Lote on the team and we thought we would do everything we could to bring him to the team. We thought we would make the glove. He must have thought about it a lot. Ross was not the bravest man in the world in those days, with all due respect. He would never chase the system and stick to the rules. Congratulations to Ross for getting the right result for us.

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“We used to meet at Queensland headquarters, which ended in Gamba. They were renting space from a Queensland government building. To announce those sides, we did it at the XXXX brewery and there the famous TBA was launched, in the meeting room of the band there. I remember after the announcement I was asked who the goalkeeper would be, and I said, ‘TBA, to be supported by [Darren] Cabinet’.”

Lote Tuqiri: “I was probably told 24 hours earlier that we would do it and that I would be named for the Broncos [who subsequently beat the Tigers in the birth of the “Baby Broncos” under Craig Bellamy]. I was just relieved when the team came out that there was a TBA. I do not know how they overcame it. “

Nick Livemore (son of Ross Livemore): “It simply came to our notice then. He always knew what the rules were and was always attached to them, whether financially, from the grassroots or the media. He really reflected this feeling against Sydney or the NSW where he thought they were running against us and we should try to bend it. “I never knew anything about the plan, and so it was.”

ARL CEO Geoff Carr: “With the Origin rules, we tried to be precise in everything. But the wording was often difficult. When Wayne wanted Alfie back from England, they came and saw us first. This was not unexpected to surprise everyone, but in this case they dragged it out of the blue to surprise everyone. I remember calling Ross right away. We did not have a set-to because we always did very well, but we talked honestly with each other. I said, “You can not do that.” He said, “Tell me where I can not.” He was technically right. Although it was not right, he could do it. “We tried as hard as we could to convince him that he could not or should not do it, but there was no rule that prevented him from doing it.”

All the equipment, and I have no idea when it will train

Lote Tuqiri: “I had to go to the camp, but I could not train with the team. I was just on the sidelines watching and helping with a few things. I remember watching the first few sessions and thinking, ‘How good is that? I play Origin, I get the whole kit and I do not need to do anything “. And in the first few sessions, Billy Johnstone flogged them. As a big kid from the island playing in the back, I did not like the preparation or the physical condition. “I rubbed my hands together.”

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Wayne Bennett: “He did not have the reputation of training well. He could not approach the joint until after his suspension was issued. We did not name the player and when he served his suspension we named him. I remember there was a story that I pretended to be an injury to bring him to the team, but I did not want to do it because it was cheap. “I just did not want to do that.”

The beneficiaries of the back-to-back selection masterstrokes for Queensland - Lote Tuqiri and Allan Langer.

The beneficiaries of the back-to-back selection masterstrokes for Queensland – Lote Tuqiri and Allan Langer.Credit:Getty

Gene Miles: “It was a quarrel because they really blew themselves up for it. But Wayne had our support to do what we had to do if there was ever such a gap.

“It closed very quickly as soon as we did.”

The story of two extremes as TBA sets a new record

Lote Tuqiri: “I really felt fresh. I felt very good having a few days off. This was a divine gift. I do not know if it was about the game and achieving three attempts, but I definitely felt refreshed and excited. The administration and the state had my back. You enter the camp and from Queensland’s point of view, you represent everyone from the Strait of Torres to Tweed. I wanted to go out there and make them proud. They were willing to pull their throats for me. And then I scored the most points (18) in a game for Queensland. I think the next day was Queensland Day. Everything was written for me in a sense. I remember picking up the newspaper and one of the headlines was about Lote doing it for Queensland Day. My mom still has that clipping.

“It was also Justin Hodges’s debut. It could have been his first and last game when he threw two passes into the goal which led to NSW efforts. When I catch Justin, we often talk about this game in different terms obviously. That would be collectible. “

Tuqiri's 18-point record on that famous night in Brisbane remains a Queensland Origin record.

Tuqiri’s 18-point record on that famous night in Brisbane remains a Queensland Origin record.Credit:Heath Missen

Wayne Bennett: “We were desperate. “We wanted him to play because he was such a good player and he proved to us that he was right in the end with his performance.”

Jeff Carr: “Our discussions around Origin are always intense. Ross would put some shit on the paper and call me before it was printed and say, “That’s what I said today.” And then he would laugh. It was Queensland first, second and third – and they would do anything to win.

“If you remember on the track, they chose Israel Folaou when he had already announced that he would go to the AFL. Anything within the rules where Queensland believed it could get an advantage, they considered it their duty and right to take advantage of. It did not really make the relationship worse, but it was just another way of taking advantage of the rules as they were. I am not critical of them. I never lost respect for Ross through all these things because I knew his motives. He just wanted Queensland to win, he didn’t care [how]. But I could not do the same. I was the CEO of NSWRL and ARL. “It would be hypocritical on my part to take advantage of an ARL rule if I were the CEO.”

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The consequences – and the TBA that lives on today

The Crimson, having beaten Tuqiri’s hat-trick in the second game to win 26-18 at the old ANZ Stadium in Brisbane, continued to hold on to the shield when Dane Carlaw made a last-minute effort to save the tie in the third. game in Sydney. .

The fight showed Gordon Talis playing racquetball with Brett Hodgson on the sidelines after Tokiri told the governor a banner referring to his mom in the crowd. Tuqiri lost a post-siren conversion from the width that would win the series for the Maroons.

Gene Miles: “We had Greg Dowling shoot Dane Carlau before that game. Wayne was a genius and Greg had moved north again at the time. He made a quote in the newspaper that said, “he looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane.” That was old but good. “And Dane probably had one of his best games ever.”

Wayne Bennett: “My biggest regret for that game was that Darren Lockier definitely had a try near full time and we took it off. And Loki knew we had won the series [retained the shield] and gave the last kick to Lotte. I almost killed him for it.

“Bringing Alf home was the biggest [move]. It was huge at the time. Lotte got a lot of publicity when the team came out with 16 players. We did not cheat, we just worked according to the rules. There is no way NSW could have let this happen if we had cheated. Queensland would be the same. If NSW was trying to get a swifty, we would go too. “Then they changed the rules after that.”

Nick Livemore: “It added to the theatricality of what Origin was. Every year he seemed to produce something new. I feel that Origin has lost some of this spice now. In life I appreciate following the rules and doing the right thing, but if you can bend them without breaking them, absolutely [do it]. »


Lote Tuqiri: “Did the TBA change the order?” I do not know. Finding this gap was in itself a masterpiece. I still get questions about TBA. In fact, some even call me TBA. It’s a good memory for me, and I’m always happy to sit down and talk about it with people. It was an amazing moment in my career and life, to make three attempts in a State of Origin game. “Even if I look back now, it makes me smile.”

Watch the State of Origin series exclusively live and for free on Channel 9 and 9 Now.

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