In 1995, rugby league was at war.
The Super League fight was raging on and players, fans, coaches and officials were scrambling in an effort to save the game from complete self-destruction.
By the time State of Origin rolled around, the series itself was under threat by the decision to cast out any Super-League aligned players.
For the Queensland side, this meant names such as Allan Langer, Kevin Walters, Steve Walters, Wendell Sailor, Steve Renouf, Willie Carne and Michael Hancock were all unavailable.
In their place came names such as Matt Sing, Ben Ikin and Newcastle’s own Robbie O’Davis.
“Fatty (Coach Paul Vautin) had us in ‘95 and that was amazing, they called us the ‘Nevilles’ because we were just a made-up team,” O’Davis told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“I think five guys had played Origin before, they grabbed Benny Ikin out of reserve grade in North Sydney.
“Fatty knew me thankfully, and we’re very good mates now because of it.”
With New South Wales boasting names such as Brad Fittler, the Johns brothers, Paul Harragon and Tim Brasher, a series win was an extremely tall order for the Maroons.
LISTEN TO THE ROBBIE O’DAVIS PODCAST BELOW!
IF YOU'RE READING ON THE APP AND WANT TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST - CLICK HERE!
Not to mention Paul Vautin was a rookie coach coming up against Phil Gould, who was Origin’s most successful coach at the time.
“He (Vautin) pretty much got us together in one room and said ‘I can’t coach duck to waters, I’m not a coach's bum hole…but I can make you best friends, and best friends will want to do anything for their mates,” O’Davis said.
“His philosophy was, if they don’t cross our line, we win.
"We just thought geez, that was hard. Stupid game complicated by idiots.”
Unbelievably for Queensland, Vautin’s tactic worked with the Maroons winning the first and only try-less Origin match 2-0.
It remains the only time an Origin side has been held to zero, however O’Davis believes the best work was done off the paddock while the team was in camp.
“We just became best mates, I think it was 10 days they put us into camp," he said.
"Eight of those days we were drunk, the last two, we sobered up to go play.
“We won the second game down in Melbourne to wrap it up, then came back to Lang Park and won it up there.”