TO ME, the highlight of yet another titanic State of Origin match on Wednesday night was Jarryd Hayne disappearing into a sea of blue at Sydney's packed ANZ Stadium after the final whistle.
His uninhibited reaction encompassed why Origin is now one of the truly great national sporting events.
If that final play - in which Hayne gathered a kick 20m from his own goal line and ran backwards to make the ball dead and end the game - had been choreographed and practised all week, it could not have been performed better.
It was pure theatre.
And, as he lunged into the crowd with his arms spread like the Messiah, the emotion was palpable.
The seven security guards who followed him, no doubt concerned for his safety, were in more danger than the charismatic Blues fullback had they dared pull him away from his fans.
There is no denying that Queensland, always relishing the underdog tag, has bred an unquestionable Origin spirit over the years.
And at times the competitive nature of some Blues players has been rightly questioned.
Having been plunged into an eight-year Origin series drought, NSW had used four different coaches and five captains during the Mal Meninga-led Maroon reign.
And while that instability ruled, breeding a genuine passion and spirit was no doubt difficult to foster in the Blues camp.
But the likeable Laurie Daley, untried as a coach, found the key.
He enforced discipline and made tough decisions, but, most significantly, he unlocked the talents and the hunger of Jarryd Hayne.
Like many talented young sports people thrown into a world of fame at an impressionable age, Hayne was caught in the glare of the bright lights.
The son of ex-NRL player Manoa Thompson, Hayne was raised on struggle street by his single mum, but at 26 has finally reached the age of reality, and maturity.
His unpretentious yet poignant interaction with the fans on Wednesday night was infectious, and anyone not touched by that show of pure, unbridled emotion, is coldblooded.
And like the majority of his teammates, Hayne was a gracious winner.
It is over-used terminology, but Jarryd Hayne is a superstar.
YES, yes, yes
RYAN Hoffman deserved man-of-the-match honours in Origin II. Melbourne's big three - Slater, Smith and Cronk - usually attract the plaudits, and deservedly so, but on Wednesday night Hoffman turned in arguably his premier performance at rep level.
NO, no no
NOT presenting NSW skipper Paul Gallen with the State of Origin shield on Wednesday night was appalling, and an example of inflexible leadership. After eight years in the wilderness and before an 84,000 capacity crowd, that was the time - and place - for the Blues to fittingly salute their faithful fans.
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