Wally Lewis says footy gods have smiled on Queensland again
RUGBY LEAGUE: Origin's king Wally Lewis has borrowed a phrase off the concept's founder, saying the football gods have played a massive part in the Maroons' unprecedented run of nine series wins from the past 10 campaigns.
State of Origin's architect, the late Ron McAuliffe, once famously said the Maroons' early Origin success was a result of the divine blessings of Jesus Christ.
After the Maroons had wrapped up their fourth-straight series victory in 1983, McAuliffe was asked who was responsible for their dominance.
Was it captain Lewis, or fellow Queensland legends Colin Scott, Mal Meninga, Gene Miles, Mark Murray, Greg Conescu, Paul Vautin, Wally Fullerton Smith, Dave Brown or the coach, the late great Arthur Beetson?
"And he said 'no, it's Jesus Christ'," Lewis told APN.
"And the bloke turned around and said 'what? You're kidding! So now the Lord plays for Queensland?'
"He thought 'you smart arse'.
"But Ron said 'no, because a lot of the blokes on that team were born within 18 months of each other'."
This current Queensland team is similar, in that so many players are of a similar age.
So call it the work of the football gods, divine intervention - whatever you like.
But Lewis believes McAuliffe, also the former Queensland Rugby League chairman, and his theory of Jesus Christ reaching out to bless the Maroons 32 years ago, has taken effect once again.
And it has led to a decade of Queensland dominance.
"I liken it a lot to the team we had in 1983, and the press conference Ron McAuliffe did," Lewis said.
"A whole pile of them played against each other or with each other at club level.
"And that's the same with a lot of blokes on this current Queensland team - they're all a very similar age."
It is that familiarity and understanding that the Maroons have built since their run started in 2006 - unlike the Blues who have chopped and changed in bulk over the past decade - that has played a major part in Queensland's success.
"The one thing I said all along in the build-up (to game three when the ages of many Maroons players were heavily questioned) is you cannot buy understanding. It either exists or it doesn't," Lewis said.
"And when you've got guys that have spent the majority of their careers playing alongside each other, it's part of their game.
"It's a big part of the team's strength and it's something that can never be underestimated."
Queensland retiree from the history-making class of 2015, centre Justin Hodges, has been a major part of the team's success over its magical past decade.
He indicated he wanted to stay on in a coaching or mentoring capacity in future Maroons camps, such is the value he places on the jersey.
Lewis said Hodges's transition to Maroons mentor would be a seamless one because of that word again - the familiarity he has with the players and coaches in the brilliant Queensland system.
"A lot of people think us former Origin players like to hang around for free tickets," Lewis said.
"But it would be great to see Justin a part of future camps - Mal Meninga is the coach for the next three years.
"Hodgo doesn't say much but what he does say, you certainly listen to."