Flashback Friday: Carroll’s Origin Debut Match-winner
Ahead of next Wednesday’s State of Origin series opener, Flashback Friday revisits the greatest Origin moment involving a Canterbury-born player – Tonie Carroll’s sensational debut match-winner in the first match of the 1998 series.
Born in Christchurch, Carroll left the Canterbury region as a youngster and represented Queensland and Australia at schoolboy level, before breaking into first grade with the star-studded Brisbane Broncos in 1996.
The powerhouse centre/backrower made his State of Origin debut for the Maroons in 1998, scoring an unforgettable last-minute match-winning try in his first appearance.
Queensland trailed 23-18 in the dying stages, but an audacious kick by Kevin Walters from near his own and a determined chase from Ben Ikin kept their hopes alive.
Two players later, Carroll backed a desperate passing movement to plunge over next to the posts, with Broncos stablemate and fellow debutant Darren Lockyer coolly slotting the conversion after the siren for a 24-23 triumph.
After signing a contract with Leeds during 2000, Carroll was ruled out of Kangaroos selection contention for the end-of-year World Cup – instead putting his hand up for the Kiwis’ campaign.
He featured in his third Grand Final triumph for the Broncos that year, and Carroll was one of the stars of the Kiwis’ World Cup journey. He scored four tries in five Tests for his country of birth, including a four-pointer in the 40-12 final loss to an Australian side that included five of his Origin teammates from only six months earlier.
Carroll spent two seasons with Leeds Rhinos before returning to the Broncos in 2003. Despite representing New Zealand only three years prior, he resumed his Origin career with Queensland and controversially made his Test debut for Australia in 2004, making seven appearances over two seasons.
The hard-running ‘Tunza’ became recognised as one of the game’s preeminent defensive hit-men in his specialist lock position, and won a fourth premiership with the Broncos in 2006, while he made the last of 18 Origin appearances a year later and retired in 2009 with over 200 NRL games to his credit.
Carroll is one of just four players to represent New Zealand and Australia in Rugby League, a select group that includes pioneering legends Dally Messenger, Bill Kelly and Con Sullivan, whose Test careers spanned from 1908-14.
Along with Craig Smith and Nathan Fien, Carroll is one of only three Origin representatives to play Test football for New Zealand, while he and Brad Thorn are the only South Island-born Origin reps.
Tightened eligibility rules have ensured Carroll’s rare feats cannot be replicated.
TONIE CARROLL – CAREER OVERVIEW
Born: 17 February, 1976 in Christchurch.
Brisbane Broncos (1996-2000, 2003-09): 218 games – 55 tries (220 points)
Leeds Rhinos (2001-02): 50 games – 31 tries (124 points)
Queensland Super League Tri-Series (1997): 2 games – 2 tries (8 points)
Queensland (1998-2000, 2003-07): 18 Origins – 1 try (4 points)
New Zealand (2000): 5 Tests – 4 tries (16 points)
Australia (2004-05): 7 Tests – 2 tries (8 points)
WILL EVANS – CANTERBURY RUGBY LEAGUE