Paul Green was cagey about continuing as Queensland coach following Wednesday’s relieving Origin III win, preferring to keep the spotlight on his players.
The first-year Maroons mentor entered the match under the pump after NSW romped to victory in games one and two but insisted during the week that he was “not worried about my future”.
The QRL have an option to extend Green’s contract next year – and chairman Bruce Hatcher has said they intend to activate it – but the coach batted away questions about his job post-match.
“Now’s not the time to be making any sort of decisions about that,” Green said after the 20-18 win at Cbus Super Stadium.
“Tonight’s not about me. Tonight was a great win for Queensland, it was a great win for this team. We’ve been under unbelievable pressure and as Daly [Cherry-Evans] said, we left ourselves open to that by the way the first two games panned out.”
But he made clear his passion for his state.
“I love Queensland, I loved playing when I got the chance and I’ve enjoyed this series, as tough as it has been,” Green added.
With Kalyn Ponga’s sensational return from injury at fullback and a brilliant two-try performance from new starting hooker Ben Hunt, the Maroons looked like a different team in attack.
Halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Cameron Munster also found rhythm after Queensland scored just one try in Origin I and II.
“Between the four of them, they all complemented each other. We were a bit more dangerous across the park,” Green said.
“Ben Hunt playing at hooker for 80 minutes – he doesn’t normally do that. He was outstanding along with the other guys.
“When we needed a play, Kalyn came up with it. He didn’t take the intercept [when Tom Trbojevic made a break late in the match], but he stopped a try and that was enormous for us.”
Captain Cherry-Evans described Ponga’s impact as “unreal”.
“He came in with a real energy, he was really focused on getting us to believe that we could win,” the halfback said.
“A lot of boys fed off that. You could see in the way he played, he loves playing for Queensland I think he did a fantastic job.”
Boos were heard on the broadcast when Cherry-Evans spoke on stage but despite being on home turf the veteran playmaker attributed the noise to “a fair few New South Wales fans”.
“I don’t think for one second that was the Queensland fans. [The Blues] had a pretty strong contingent there; they were going to lift the shield tonight,” the Sea Eagles star said.
“Queensland’s loyalty as fans has never been questioned and they were out in full support tonight.”
And while there had been talk of a potential NSW dynasty, Cherry-Evans said Queensland know now “they’re very beatable”.
“I know they did a fantastic job the first two games, we’ve got to give them credit for that, but we showed tonight that we are a Queensland side that can take it to the Blues,” he said.
“They won the series but that was the blueprint right there of how to play an Origin game. It’s a real credit to everyone involved this week.”