“That’s not a try, that’s a miracle.” The Ray Warren exclamation when Mark Coyne scored the match-winning try for Queensland in Origin I has become part of rugby league folklore.
In the first of a series of first-person pieces by Origin greats, Coyne discusses the lead-up to the match, the try and the aftermath. This article originally appeared in Rugby League Week's Heroes of Origin magazine in 2012.
Mark Coyne: My miracle try
The Origin series came not long after I'd been beaten by Brisbane in the 1992 and 1993 grand finals with St George.
I remember the last Origin training run at the Sydney Football Stadium before game one, we were stretching down and Broncos players "Alfie" Langer and Kevin Walters were doing a lap around the oval and yelling at me. I said, "What is it?"
They said, "We're just showing you how to do a victory lap".
That brought the house down.
But I did get to do a victory lap after game one that year, even though I only played the last seven minutes of the match.
The minute I got on, Brad Mackay scored for NSW. We were eight points behind and I thought I wasn't much chance of doing anything.
Coyne scores match-winner in game one of 94
But then I played a part in Willie Carne's try and ultimately scored the last try.
It was a great team movement and to get the final pass off one of the truly great Origin players in Mal Meninga was a really nice thing.
When you don't play a whole game you don't feel like you've done a lot, so I actually came off the field and was a bit detached from the excitement of the win and overawed by all the congratulations.
Everyone wanted to pat me on the back but I didn't feel like I'd contributed.
I left the party early that night and went home. I just didn't feel comfortable with all the back-slapping.
I had my wife with me and I went to the function and stayed for half an hour.
I actually got breath-tested on the way home — I'd had one beer, so I was lucky I didn't celebrate too hard.
I'd like to think I had a career where I achieved a lot of great things, but people only remember me for that try — a fantastic thing to be a part of.
I would still talk about that try four times a week. Whenever I meet someone new they bring it up.
Everyone wanted to pat me on the back but I didn't feel like I'd contributed.Mark Coyne
Around Origin time they show it and are always talking about it. I'd certainly like a dollar for every time I've talked about it.
I can't speak on behalf of NSW and whether it has haunted them but from a Queensland point of view, I think that try highlighted our never-give-up attitude.
It is one of the strong values for every Queenslander who pulls on the jersey.
Ultimately we didn't win the series and that is what Origin is all about. In Melbourne, I thought we were a chance of winning, but we didn't.
The last game was up at Lang Park and that was the worst we played in the series.
Overall, we were very disappointed, especially with Wally Lewis coaching.
Wally was such an icon of Origin and not to be able to get him a series win as coach,
I felt we let him down. He did a fair job on the chopping block.
NSW had [Ricky] Stuart, [Laurie] Daley, [Benny] Elias ... a fantastic team with Phil Gould as coach, arguably NSW's greatest. Gus certainly knew how to get them up for the last game at Lang Park.
When you look at that 1994 team there were a lot of guys, like Kevin Walters and Alfie Langer, who dominated the way things happened in the game and at training.
The next year they weren't there because of Super League so it made blokes like me, Billy Moore, Gary Larson, Trevor Gillmeister and Mark Hohn show more leadership than we had in the past.
Those guys played a big part the following year when we bounced back from the '94 loss to do the clean sweep under Paul Vautin.
But when it comes down to it, '94 for me will always be about that try.
- as told to Joel Gould.
40 Years of State of Origin
Mark Coyne's miracle try is featured in the upcoming book, 40 Years of State of Origin, which goes on sale April 28. You can pre-order the book at https://www.nrlshop.com/40-years-of-state-of-origin-book.html