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Arthur, the Rocket and Sattler among Queensland Maroons' one-game wonders

There have been 213 Queenslanders capped in State of Origin football and of those 26 - a tick over 12 per cent - entered rugby league's most hallowed arena just once.

The reasons are many but for most, it ultimately boiled down to either bad luck, bad timing or a bad day at the office.

Still, it's not all hard-luck stories and what-might-have-beens. There are many of the game's greats numbered among these one-shot wonders including a rugby league Immortal, '82 Invincibles, multiple Dally M Rookie and Team of the Year honorees, premiership winners and Kangaroos.

A sizeable chunk of the one-and-doners are players whose representative twilight just stretched into the early Eighties - including 13 in the inaugural State of Origin clash at Lang Park in 1980 which Queensland won 20-10.

Extended Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Across NSW and Queensland there are now 78 players (52 from NSW) to have made one appearance. This number was 84 after Origin I of 2020 but decreased as a host of players made their second appearance on Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium.

The soloists break down into 26 of Queensland's 213 Origin reps and 52 of 293 Blues - a fact that will gladden the hearts of those whose Maroon-tinted glasses mist over when presented with more evidence that Queenslanders "get" Origin.

With that in mind, NRL.com has come up with two teams of players who have one Origin appearance to their name.

In selecting the teams, when a tie-breaker was necessary we opted for the player who had made a better impact in his one Origin appearance over the player with the more impressive overall career. 

John Lang playing for Queensland.
John Lang playing for Queensland. ©NRL Photos

In the lead up to Brisbane's Origin match for 2020, NRL.com will look at a Maroons team of one-gamers. Check out last week's story for the Blues One-Gamers line-up.

Queensland Maroons

One-timers team: 1. Greg Holben, 2. Terry Butler, 3. Graham Quinn, 4. Adrian Vowles, 5. Bruce Astill, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Greg Oliphant, 8. Arthur Beetson (c), 9. John Lang, 10. Danny Nutley, 11. Rod Reddy, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Scott Sattler. Interchange: 14. David Stagg, 15. Scott Tronc, 16. Bruce Walker, 17. Owen Cunningham.

With a far shallower pool of players to dip into the Maroons squad contains far fewer big names - a deficit that reveals itself most starkly in the backline.

At fullback we have selected Greg Holben (11-7 Game 2 win in 1982). Utility back and goal-kicker Holben played for Easts and Brothers in the Brisbane competition, scoring a last-minute winner in the 1978 grand final.

On the wings are Terry Butler (10-6 Game 2 loss in 1983), a Wynnum winger who went on to play four try-less games for the North Sydney Bears in 1986, and Bruce Astill (43-22 Game 3 win in 1983), whose Origin story makes for a great trivia question.

Full Match Replay: Maroons v Blues - Game 2, 1982

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Astill is Queensland Origin player No.15 because he was selected as a reserve in the inaugural clash but neither he nor fellow reserve Norm Carr took the field. Carr went on to play three games but Astill's only official appearance came in '83.

In the centres are Graham Quinn (who lined up alongside Holben in Game 2, 1982), one of Bath's Babes and a two-time premiership winner for the Dragons, and Adrian Vowles (14-0 Game 2 loss in 1994), who played three Tests for Scotland and was sent off in the North Queensland Cowboys' inaugural game.

Lining up in the No.6 jersey is Dragons playmaker Corey Norman (26-20 Game 3 loss in 2019).

Danny Nutley in his lone Origin performance.
Danny Nutley in his lone Origin performance. ©NRL Photos

His partner in the halves is 1980 original Greg Oliphant, a great rival of Blues One-Gamers skipper Tommy Raudonikis, who played two Tests and had two seasons with the Balmain Tigers in Sydney.

The first Queenslander on the team sheet, and captain of the Maroons One-Gamers, is the man responsible for the birth of Origin's mate-against-mate ethos - Arthur Beetson. 

Rugby league Immortal Beetson had played 17 times for NSW and was in the final season of a club career that kicked off with Balmain in 1966 when he set the 1980 one-off game alight by putting one on the jaw of Eels team-mate Mick Cronin.

Joining him in the front row are hooker John Lang, another 1980 original who appeared in eight Tests and played his one season of Sydney first grade that year with Eastern Suburbs, and prop Danny Nutley (32-10 Game 3 loss in 2005).

Journeyman Nutley played 152 games for the Crushers, Sharks and Roosters but that was his only representative appearance.

First picked in the back row is 1980 original "Rocket" Rod Reddy, whose quintessentially '70s mix of exquisite skill and uncompromising brutality earned the '82 Invincible 17 Tests and sustained him through 237 first grade games for the Dragons and Steelers.

He packs down with the recently retired Ethan Lowe (26-20 Game 3 loss, 2019), who kicked four-from-four in his only representative appearance and finished with 143 first grade appearances for North Queensland and South Sydney when a neck injury ended his career.

Full Match Replay: Blues v Maroons - Game 1, 1988

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Locking the scrum is 2003 grand final hero Scott Sattler (27-4 Game 2 loss, 2003) - a 203-game journeyman with the Seagulls, Roosters, Crushers, Panthers and Tigers - whose sole Maroons jumper pairs up nicely with the Todd Byrne cover tackle in the two biggest games at Stadium Australia that year.  

The first bench player is David Stagg (17-16 Game 1 loss, 2006), who was 2009 Dally M Lock of the Year and turned out 206 times for the Broncos and Roosters.

Then we have Scott Tronc (26-18 Game 1 win, 1988), who played 92 games for the Magpies, Broncos, Bulldogs and Rabbitohs between 1987 and 1994; Bruce Walker (20-16 Game 2 loss in 1982), a rangy back-rower whose premiership win in 1978 was the highlight of a 226-game career with North Sydney and Manly.

The man is jersey 17 is Sea Eagles forward Owen Cunningham (15-14 Game 3 loss, 1996), another journeyman who added three Super League appearances for Queensland to the highlights of his 15-year, 275-game first grade career.  

 

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