Menu
Sport

Secret behind State of Origin controversy revealed

Former NSW forward Bryan Fletcher is credited with introducing one of State of Origin's most controversial moments.
Former NSW forward Bryan Fletcher is credited with introducing one of State of Origin's most controversial moments. DEAN LEWINS

IT burns so deep in State of Origin folklore, Bryan Fletcher and Ryan Girdler's infamous insult has still been getting air-time this week.

Fletcher's iconic 'hand grenade' try celebration during NSW's historic 58-16 win at Suncorp Stadium in 2000 - completing a series sweep - is the benchmark to which all State of Origin insults are compared.

When former Blues captain Paul Gallen turned his back on Queensland captain Cameron Smith during the official presentations after Origin III last year it was measured against the level of disrespect shown by Fletcher and teammates including Brad Fittler and Girdler 17 years ago.

Queensland Origin great Gorden Tallis has previously spoken about how that try celebration eventually led to a shift in the State of Origin balance of power which saw Queensland win back the Shield in 2001.

NSW's Ryan Girdler in action for the Blues during the 2001 series.
NSW's Ryan Girdler in action for the Blues during the 2001 series. DEAN LEWINS

Now Fletcher and Girdler have come clean, revealing they had no idea their idea of a fun little gag would become one of Origin's great flashpoints.

Even more shocking, he claims he was not even the architect of the move, despite being credited as the mastermind for years.

"It was at a time when The Footy Show was running a bit on post-try celebrations and (Nine Netwrok CEO) David Gyngell had gotten us tickets to an advanced screening of Any Given Sunday,” Fletcher told Triple M Saturday NRL.

"It was an NFL movie with Jamie Foxx and they did something very similar, someone scores a touchdown, throws a hand grenade and then all the players fall down.

"We had a few beers that night after the premiere and ended up at The Bourbon (in Kings Cross) and we were downstairs and we practised it.

"We rehearsed and e I forgot all about it. And then I scored the try and Girds came running up to me, begging, pleading for me to basically throw the grenade.

"I thought it was something from Puppetry of the Penis and was wondering what is going on there.

"And then he reminded me that we'd practised it. The memory came back in and I threw the hand grenade.

"I actually forgot all about it and it was Girdler and yet I copped the blame.”

With his tongue planted firmly in cheek, Girdler refused to accept accusation of being the ring leader.

"That's the biggest load of bull I've ever heard,” Girdler told Fletcher.

"If you look at the footage of that moment. I don't even run in. I go over to congratulate you. To shake your hand and say well done and then I'm out of there and then all of a sudden he goes into the (throwing action).

"I got blown up. I knew it was coming. I wasn't going to leave him hanging.”

Queensland legend Wendell Sailor said it is a try celebration that will never be forgotten north of the Tweed River.

"As a Queenslander, you never forget that,” he said.

"I think a lot of the Queensland boys take it as being disrespectful, but I didn't take it that way.”

While NSW went on to win three series in a row from 2003-05, moves made by Queensland after the 2000 insult are widely credited for creating the Queensland dynasty of winning 10 of the past 11 series.

The controversial celebration is credited with sparking Queensland's State of Origin revival.
The controversial celebration is credited with sparking Queensland's State of Origin revival. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Ten players made their State of Origin debuts for Queensland in the 2001 series.

The QRL established the emerging Origin pathway program. Coach Mark Murray was sacked for Wayne Bennett and two thirds of the Queensland selection panel were replaced - all following the 2000 series.

There's a reason Matty Johns said on The Late Show on Fox League last week it remains the try celebration that started a dynasty for Queensland.


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Art inspired by vivid stories of the past

Anthony "Boy” Turnbull at the preview of his latest exhibition at Lapunyah Art Gallery.

Artist returns to gallery with latest exhibition

A treasure trove of history

TALES OF YESTERYEAR: One of the hundreds of photos Vaughn Becker inherited from his parents.

Photo collection tells tales of yesteryear

Years of service recognised

COMMUNITY STALWARTS: Len and Joan Hubbard (centre) with QLD Transport operations Toowoomba's Sharon Kim and Chris Trevor.

Hubbards celebrate life's work

Local Partners