Lockyer outshines Stuart - finally - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer outshines Stuart - finally

Laine Clark 06/07/2011 10:51:55 PM Comments (0)

A veteran halfback made plenty of headlines ahead of the State of Origin decider - oh, and Darren Lockyer featured in a few too.

Indeed ex-Test No.7 Ricky Stuart pulled off a major win as NSW coach before setting foot at a packed Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night for arguably the biggest Origin since its 1980 inception.

Somehow Stuart rivalled retiring Queensland skipper Lockyer as a talking point around the work water cooler ahead of Origin III.

And it seems nothing will change despite Queensland providing Lockyer with a fitting farewell, clinching a sixth straight series on Wednesday night with a 34-24 Origin III win.

Such is the polarising power of Stuart, the NSW mentor will be just as hot a topic as the departing Maroons' captain even after Queensland ran out six tries to four winners at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

Stuart lamented his potential role as party pooper before the game, modestly saying he didn't want to be the mastermind who denied Lockyer a fairytale Origin finale.

But that didn't stop him from revelling in the role of bad guy in Queenslanders' eyes in the lead-up, doing everything but grow a handlebar moustache to twirl.

He accused Queensland of launching a dirty tricks campaign to disrupt NSW's preparation before game three, saying they did the same thing ahead of Wally Lewis' Origin finale in 1991.

The fact Lewis had only told then Maroons' manager Dick Turner of his Origin retirement - minutes before kick-off, 20 years ago - appeared to work against Stuart's theory.

Still the former Canberra playmaker was at his paranoid best, refusing to reveal his final 17 until the last minute and booking a Suncorp Stadium training session on Tuesday - only to travel to another venue.

It ensured plenty of eyes were on Stuart on Wednesday night - but cynics could suggest he should have been familiar with that sensation after his secret training session backfired on Tuesday.

No doubt Origin brings out passion - but still, fans north of the Tweed were left shaking their heads over a NSW newspaper's take on game three.

It called for NSW to bring an "end to tyranny", likening a Blues' side snapping Queensland's five straight series wins to Saddam Hussein's fall, the Berlin Wall coming down and Nelson Mandela becoming South Africa's first black president.

But Queensland cynics could claim after Stuart was found out over his 1991 "dirty tricks" call, NSW folk have not been ones for historic detail.

Still, Maroons' fans were hoping a Stuart-inspired NSW win was as likely as deadly-serious Lockyer taking up stand-up comedy after league.

But Lockyer had the last laugh on Wednesday night.

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