Like a captain steering a ship, behind every Origin side there is pivotal player leading the way. These are players with sixes and sevens on their back. They're the ones that come up with miraculous plays, the ones kids try to reproduce in the park. The halves are the backbone of any team and at Origin, league's biggest stage, there's nowhere to hide.
These champions are Origin's greatest halves.
Allan Langer (QLD)
Allan Langer may not have been the tallest or strongest man in league, but boy did he hold his own, and it was no different during his 34 appearances and seven series wins in Maroon colours. Among the greatest halfbacks in rugby league history, ‘Alfie’ Langer was most remembered for his bustling runs at the line, where he would duck and weave his way past the defence. There was no greater example of this than in the 2001 Origin series, when he scored a signature solo try in the decider.
Steve Mortimer (NSW)
Despite orchestrating a significant Origin moment for the Blues, Mortimer didn’t have as many NSW caps as some might think. That does not however change the fact that he was instrumental for NSW when he captained them to a 3-0 clean sweep of the 1984 series, the first time NSW had defeated Queensland in State of Origin. Mortimer brought fierce pride and devotion to the sky blue jersey and this was no more evident than in the moments after that series win where Mortimer fell to his knees, completely overcome by emotion.
Wally Lewis (QLD)
He is not known as ‘The King’ for nothing. At six feet tall with a broad chest and his customary moustache, Lewis was an iconic figure in Origin football, winning nine series for Queensland. He had brilliant skills with the ball and in defence he would command the pace of a game and bring out the best in his teammates. He oozed Origin passion and was the ultimate player, leading him to be regarded as the best rugby league has ever seen.
Andrew Johns (NSW)
Like most great halfbacks ‘Joey’ Johns did not have the greatest stature, but that did not deter from the fact he could pull out a trick or two and turn a game on its head. Playing 23 games for NSW, he always had great influence on proceedings. Whether throwing a bullet-like cutout pass, running at the line or putting in a deft kick for a teammate to pounce on, Johns had it all and always played like there was no tomorrow.
Darren Lockyer (QLD)
Between 1998-2011, Darren Lockyer became a fixture in the Queensland side with a record 36 State of Origin appearances. But remarkably, only since 2004 has he dazzled in the halves after a seamless switch from fullback. The move was a masterstroke by then Broncos coach Wayne Bennett allowing Lockyer to get more hands on the ball, and it worked. As five-eighth Lockyer became the most successful Origin captain, leading his troops to six consecutive series victories in his final game for the Maroons in 2011.
Brad Fittler (NSW)
‘Freddy’ Fittler was somewhat of a child prodigy, experiencing great success very young. A natural born leader, it wasn’t until he stepped into his role at five-eighth that he really shone. Known for handling big pressure moments and with his deadly angular side step, Fittler is one of NSW’s greatest products. Captaining the Blues in 14 of his record 31 games, he was the backbone of the team and had six series wins in the sky blue. The Brad Fittler Medal is today awarded to NSW’s best player upon winning an Origin series.
Johnathan Thurston (QLD)
He's still only 30 years of age but Thurston has already assured his place in the pages of Origin history. The man known as 'JT' formed a lethal combination with Darren Lockyer in the halves during Queensland's remarkable recent period of dominance. Now the Cowboys skipper is enjoying a knew role, shifting to five-eighth to make room for Cooper Cronk.
Laurie Daley (NSW)
The current Blues coach was a more than handy player himself during the 1990s. Daley played 23 times for his state during a golden period for the men from south of the border. He was also given the honour of captaining the side and even though he played the majority of his football at No.6, he was versatile enough to play in the centres or at lock as well. Sick and tired of seeing the Blues suffer, Daley has taken it upon himself to help end Queensland's current period of dominance.