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May 15: Fatty's 'no-names' stun Blues; Smith leaves Eels

On this day, Matthew Ridge is lured from rugby union to league, Israel Folau equals a Broncos club record and Fatty's 'Nevilles' spring one of the biggest upsets in Origin history.


The Manly Sea Eagles sign Auckland Rugby Union and All Blacks second-string fullback Matthew Ridge after coach Graham Lowe’s mid-season recruitment mission in the Shaky Isles. He went on to win Dally M Fullback of the Year in 1995 as part of his 122 games for Manly before joining the Warriors in 1997. May 15 is also Wests Tigers fullback-winger Corey Thompson's 29th birthday. He is now back in the NRL after two years with Widnes in Super League.


Queensland’s team of “unknowns” and coached by Paul Vautin triumph 2-0 in the first try-less State of Origin match, against a highly-fancied NSW team at the Sydney Football Stadium. Wayne Bartrim's penalty goal in the 30th minute turns out to be the only score of the night.


The Rabbitohs and Cowboys fight out a 20-all draw after 90 minutes’ play at Express Advocate Stadium. It is the first drawn match since the introduction of the golden point rule.

Former Eels coach Brian Smith
Former Eels coach Brian Smith ©NRL Photos


Parramatta coach Brian Smith walks out on the club after almost 10 years in charge, stating he did not have the requisite “level of commitment and energy to go on”. Assistant coach Jason Taylor is appointed caretaker coach.


NSW selectors take a punt on untried 20-year-old Jarrod Mullen by naming him at halfback for the State of Origin opener at Suncorp Stadium. The Newcastle prodigy had played only 31 NRL games and started only nine games at halfback.

Jarrod Mullen in action for the Blues in 2007.
Jarrod Mullen in action for the Blues in 2007.


Test winger Israel Folau equals the Broncos’ record for most tries in a match when he crosses four times in a 32-18 defeat of the Gold Coast. He still shares the record with six other players: Steve Renouf, Wendell Sailor, Karmichael Hunt, Corey Oates, Justin Hodges and Denan Kemp.


Fergo dances down the sideline


St George Immortal Reg Gasnier is farewelled at a moving funeral service at Woronora. Gasnier was one of the game's four original Immortals in 1981 alongside John Raper, Bob Fulton and Clive Churchill.


The NRL releases the draw for rounds three and four, less than two weeks before the premiership is due to restart. Round three features all six unbeaten teams opposed to maximise fans’ interest. Parramatta and Brisbane are chosen to relaunch the season on May 28. The State of Origin series is scheduled for three consecutive Wednesday nights in November (4, 11 and 18).


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.     

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