Fears for Tate's career as Meninga hails "greats"

Show and go: Trent Hodkinson etches his name into Origin history. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Show and go: Trent Hodkinson etches his name into Origin history. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Mal Meninga pleaded for his vanquished Queensland side to be remembered as "the greatest side in Origin history" as Brent Tate's rotten luck threatens to trigger the Maroons' first changing of the guard.

Tate, who has already endured three knee reconstructions, is feared to have again torn his anterior cruciate ligament after buckling in a tackle mid-way through the second half.

The Cowboys veteran was in immediate pain, adding to the sombre mood in the Queensland sheds after Trent Hodkinson scored the only try of the match to wrap up NSW's 6-4 win at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday.

It gave the Blues an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, halting Queensland's unprecedented eight-year stranglehold on Origin.

And Queensland coach Mal Meninga admitted there were grave fears for Tate's future as questions start to be asked of where to next for the mighty Maroons.

"We fear the worst [for Tate] unfortunately," Meninga said. "He's had some hard luck over his career. We're hoping beyond all hope he'll get back and play again. Let's hope we see him again at some stage, but we fear the worst."

The normally unflappable Meninga bristled briefly during the post-game press conference after being quizzed on if it was only a matter of time before his side's dominance of the Origin arena ended.

"We just won eight in a row," he said. "Let's give this footy team some praise. It's one series in nine [we've lost] ... let's give these guys a lot of credit.

"We're not wallowing in self pity if that's what you want. I'm so proud of these players for what they've achieved over the years.

"Quite a lot of these players in this Queensland team will be deemed the greats of the game. We've had some wonderful players come through our ranks, but probably more importantly fantastic role models for our game. It's not the end of the world.

"You learn more things from defeat than victory I believe. It does hurt [losing the series], but it does build character."

Added skipper Cameron Smith: "It's a disappointing feeling, but at the same time we've got to remember that we've done something pretty special over the last eight years.

"I think there will be a few people asking questions of the side. We really believe we've got a great footy side in there and the two games have been decided by four points and two points."

Blues coach Laurie Daley was rewarded for a huge show of faith in Bulldogs No 7 Trent Hodkinson after dumping incumbent halfback Mitchell Pearce on the eve of the series for a boozy night in Kings Cross.

As the frustrating match headed for the first-tryless Origin encounter since Wayne Bartrim's penalty goal won the 1995 series opener 2-0, Hodkinson produced his moment of magic.

Skipper Paul Gallen said he was "numb" while Daley, who credited winger Will Hopoate for carrying a limp arm throughout the second half, described the feeling as better than anything he achieved as a NSW player.

"He [Hopoate] deserves a lot of pats on the back as he displayed the same courage as the Morris boys did in game one," Daley said.

Gallen joked receiving the trophy in Brisbane after game three "wasn't going to be good", but was relieved to have finally shed the Origin monkey off his back.

"We saw two kids [before the game] and they were with their dad and they would have been nine or 10 years old and I thought it would be good to do it for them," Gallen said.

"I thought last year was our big opportunity with two games in Sydney. I just know how much effort we put into this. It shows the character these players have got."

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