The 10 Greatest Biffs & Brawls In State Of Origin History
— Updated on 5 June 2024

The 10 Greatest Biffs & Brawls In State Of Origin History

— Updated on 5 June 2024
Billy Booker
Billy Booker

The NRL’s tribal and occasionally violent State of Origin Series returns tonight. Queensland hates NSW and NSW hates Queensland. If history is a guiding tool, this means there’ll probably be some hostilities — and we’re certainly here for it.

There are times when violence is more acceptable than others (not that we condone violence, but you know) and the State of Origin most certainly brings out the best biff rugby has to offer. It’s even wilder when you consider many of these players are club teammates.

In anticipation of the 126th meeting between the two sides, we wanted to revisit the top 10 brawls in State of Origin History.

10. Game 1 (1980)

As they sang in The Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start, in fct.

Greg Oliphant started the calamity, throwing a cheeky punch at Graeme Wynn. Then it exploded. If anyone was in any doubt about what the State of Origin meant to the players, this clarified it in great detail.

It set the tone for the next four decades and continues today. Thank you, Greg Oliphant. Thank you. 

9. Game 1 (1984)

We’re staying in the 80s for the ninth-best biff of all time.

This one was particularly entertaining, given it occurred barely seconds into the match. Gene Miles was on the receiving end of the first punches as players from both sides played a brutal game of stacks on.

“Punches are being thrown by everybody,” commentator Darrell Eastlake said. And he wasn’t exaggerating! 

8. Game 3 (2009)

Queensland became the first side to win four consecutive series’ in 2009 and the third game dead rubber is best remembered for when Brett White’s right fist knocked Steve Price out cold.

Predictably, teammates got involved — but given it all happened in the dying minutes of the match, it didn’t last for too long.

7. Game 1 (2013)

Paul Gallen. That is all. Not one, not two, but THREE punches landed on the jaw of Nate Myles was enough for this match to erupt on the cusp of half-time.

Gallen said he was headbutted by Myles, but whether his response was proportional is a subjective matter. Afterwards, the NRL issued a new rule that any punch would result in a 10-minute sin bin. Gallen the trailblazer! 

6. Game 2 (1991)

We doubt Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer are on each other’s Christmas card lists after this iconic bust-up 31 years ago.

Geyer claims he was given the green light by selectors to go ape-shit and he dutifully obliged. The result? A six-game suspension. He never played Origin again. 

5. Game 1 (2012)

If there is one solitary punch that takes the cake for the best in Origin history, this Michael Jennings blow is arguably it.

Unfortunately for Brett Tate, his head was in the way as Jennings came flying in like Buzz Lightyear from the bleachers. 

4. Game 3 (1997)

Every rugby league fan over a certain age knows exactly what “Cattle Dog” really means. And it stems from this encounter 25 years ago.

It was the urgent call from the late Tommy Raudonikis, who was coaching NSW in 1997. Mark “Spud” Carroll landed the first big blow as per his coach’s wishes, with Jason Smith on the receiving end.

Then Jamie Goddard connected with Andrew Johns, who needed 27 stitches above his lip

3. Game 2 (1998)

If Queenslanders are chucking dozens of XXXX Gold cans, you know they’re bloody angry. And they were this night when The King Wally Lewis was sent off by the referee for backchat.

Some of the cans hadn’t been opened, but the 30,000 fans didn’t care. They were incensed and an all-in brawl broke out as it was all happening. 

Lesson: Don’t send The King off.

2. Game 3 (1993)

When two alpha males go at it, looking away is impossible.

On this occasion, it was Paul Harrogon vs Martin Bella and their lusty blows did not disappoint. They stood there, facing each other, squaring off like it was Ancient Rome. 

1. Game 2 (1995)

The MCG is only an occasional State of Origin host, but it was a fitting venue for this biff in 1995.

The NSW team had agreed the first opponent who yelled out “Queenslander” would cop it. Queensland heard about it pre-match and was ready for things to erupt.

Ultimately it was Wayne Bartrim at the first scrum pack and the rest is history. AFL football had never seen anything like this. The fighting lasted for more than five minutes (the absolute scenes).

Hands down the most famous biff in the history of Origin.

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Billy Booker


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