TEENAGER, Ben Ikin’s match clinching try three minutes from full-time in Origin III was a fitting climax to Queensland’s 1995 series win over New South Wales.
Ikin’s try, from an Adrian Lam bomb, gave Qld a 24-16 win and assured the Maroons of a strong representation in the Australian team for the series against New Zealand.
When Gold Coast youngster, Ikin’s name was read out before the first Origin match, people asked ‘Ben Who?’.
The selectors stood by their rag tag 17, (Super League aligned players were ignored), and although they expected a brave effort, a whitewash seemed an impossible dream.
After winning 2-0 in Sydney and then 20-12 in Melbourne, many people thought it only natural Qld might lack a little intensity in the ‘dead rubber’ game.
Then, in the week leading up to Game 3, the Maroons had a host of injury and illness dramas, with skipper, Trevor Gillmeister admitted to hospital.
“‘Gilly’ had been on antibiotics for some time before we took him to hospital,” said team medico, Dr Roy Saunders. “I had him convinced not to play, but ‘Fatty’ (Vautin), ‘Choppy’ and ‘Tosser’ (team managers, Chris Close and Dick Turner) turned things around and the rest is history. ‘Gilly’ got out of his hospital bed to lead Queensland.
“Origin makes the players feel like they can, and want to do more for Qld. There’s a real pride in the jersey”.
In a fiery encounter, Brisbane referee, David Manson placed Qld prop, Tony Hearn on report for a headbutt on Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll.
Carroll said he was shocked when Hearn struck him in the mouth with his head.
“To cop a head butt. Fair dinkum, those days are over,” Carroll said.
In the lead-up to Game III, Qld coach, Paul Vautin said NSW players had failed to come to terms with the series loss and believed they had been the best side in Games 1 and II.
“If they want to believe that, that’s terrific for us,” Vautin said. “We’ve proved we have been the best side in the two games and we definitely want to make it 3-0. Maybe then it will shut them up.”
Gillmeister told me during the writing of my book ‘Bennett’s Broncos, that Vautin was the right man for the job in ’95, and he still believed Vautin would have made a fine NRL coach.
NSW coach, Phil Gould said his players had put plenty of pressure on Qld across the series.
“It just seemed whenever we made a break, they got more jerseys there than we did and snuffed us out,” Gould said.