Lockyer recalls thriller that triggered Maroons' dominance
DARREN Lockyer remembers it like it was yesterday.
Playing in the unfamiliar surrounds of Melbourne's Docklands Stadium for the first time, his beloved Maroons are staring down the barrel of yet another Origin series defeat.
Their fourth in a row.
They are down 14-4 with 10 minutes left to play in game three, 2006 - after they had worked so hard to level the series in Brisbane.
But on that neutral territory is where the current never-say-die attitude of Queensland was born.
A 10-point deficit would turn into a monumental two-point victory, 16-14.
For Lockyer, it was his greatest Origin moment - one that would trigger a record eight straight series wins, five of them under the captaincy of the Brisbane Broncos legend before his retirement in 2011.
"It's hard to go past that '06 series because of what was at stake," he recalled.
"There was a lot of pressure on us; a lot on myself personally. We needed to win that series.
"We came out and we snatched victory, and that just installed some belief in the team. Who would've known that from that point the group would deliver what it delivered?"
The five-eighth led from the front, scoring the sealing try and being awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series.
"That satisfaction when you win, you're happy for the group, you're happy for the state, first and foremost.
"But had we lost that year I'm probably no longer captain and my position in the team would've been in question too."
Having already dug deep once this series, fighting back in Sydney from a series-opening trouncing on home soil, Queensland will look to secure another shield - for the sixth time after being 0-1 down.
"We were a long way from them in game one and we showed a lot of grit to come back and win game two," said Lockyer, now a Queensland selector and Channel Nine commentator.
"I guess NSW would look at that game and say, 'We could've played a lot better'. I expect they will play much better in game three."
Tonight's clash is being dubbed the greatest in Origin history.
And the 50,000 Queenslanders in the crowd may play a huge part.
"We'll be playing in front of our home crowd, which will definitely provide some sort of advantage. The crowd lifts you in tough moments, when you're fatigued or going through the pain barrier.
"When NSW scored the first try after half-time (of game one) the crowd just got taken out of it.
"From Queensland's perspective the longer they can be in the battle the more the crowd comes into play."
"It doesn't get any bigger than a decider in Brisbane."