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Gorden Tallis in action for the Maroons.

The 2002 series was tied at 1-1 when Queensland headed to Sydney for the decider and Lote Tuqiri would use a bit of creative licence to fire up his captain.

As part of a series of first-person pieces by Origin greats, Tuqiri reveals how he put the rage into the Raging Bull. This article originally appeared in Rugby League Week's Heroes of Origin magazine in 2012.

Lote Tuqiri: Firing up The Raging Bull

Depending on whether you wear maroon or sky blue, you can either thank me or blame me for the little role I played in bringing the Raging Bull that was Gordie Tallis to the boil in the 2002 series decider.

I remember it all very clearly. "Choppy" Close doing his speech just before kick-off, pumping the boys up about what the jersey means. Then next thing, we're running out. I was one of the first out there, not too far behind Gordie, who was captain,

I've looked over to my left and in the bottom corner I've seen this sign in the crowd. Gordie didn't actually see it, so I said, "Gordie, come have a look at this".

Maroons forward Gorden Tallis on the charge in 2002.
Maroons forward Gorden Tallis on the charge in 2002. ©NRL Photos

He was already breathing fire - he always did before a game - and he was already emotional from Choppy's speech, so I knew what sort of effect this would have.

They took it down at just the wrong time but he caught the gist of it before it disappeared. It said, "Gordie, your mum's a rig", but I actually said to him, knowing full well it would pump him up, "Mate, it says, 'Your mum's a pig".

And I went on a little bit, firing him up: "Mate, these blokes are calling your mum a pig". His eyes have rolled into the back of his head. I don't know whether he was actually over-cooked for that game but when he rag-dolled Brett Hodgson - lassoed him and just flung him across the turf - I knew he couldn't have been any more fired up.

I came in and gave him a pat on the back and I don't think I've ever seen him so intense.

The thing was, seeing that sign gave us all this feeling that we were in enemy territory. It was a tough game and I reckon that gave us an edge.

The score was see-sawing a fair bit until big Dane Carlaw scored down the right-hand side. He fended off Jason Moodie, went about 40 metres and touched it down.

I just remember watching him, thinking, "How good's this?" Then all of a sudden I remembered who had to kick for goal!

I was able to take the pressure off by telling myself, "It's a drawn game, the series goes to us. It's an everyday kick".

It didn't work! It would have been nice to kick it, but it didn't matter. NSW go on about how it was a drawn series, but at the end of the day, we won it.

It had been a huge turnaround. They beat us convincingly in the first game and "Joey" Johns controlled things really well.

Lote Tuqiri scores in Origin II, 2002.
Lote Tuqiri scores in Origin II, 2002. ©NRL Photos

They were just too good for us in that game and we copped it in the press down in NSW afterward. They were calling us "Dad's Army" and that fired a lot of us up.

I know I was guilty of going into that game thinking of the last match of the 2001 series, where we'd thrashed the Blues. It wasn't that we'd done it easily, but I thought we still had that nucleus there where we'd go all right again - but you just can't do that in Origin.

Every game is a new beast. NSW were smarting from the year before and they blew us off the park in that first game.

I don't know whether they still do it, but when we were in camp in Brissie, they stuck a few of the negative press clippings up in the team room, in the corridors around the team hotel - places where you couldn't miss reading them. It worked.

Gorden Tallis leads Queensland out in Sydney.
Gorden Tallis leads Queensland out in Sydney. ©NRL Photos

We were fired up to hit back and we did.

It was a close game and I scored my third try with a couple of minutes to go.

I remember that quite distinctly - it's not every day you get a hat-trick in an Origin game and you get the point-scoring record for Queensland in a single game. It was at ANZ Stadium in Brisbane, and the joint was packed to the rafters.

"Hodgo" (Justin Hodges) had his nightmare debut that night, where Braith Anasta scored off his loose pass in the in-goal. I thought it was just nervous jitters, but then in the second half he did it again! Hodgo and I are quite close, and I remember - and he remembers - I really ripped into him.

I gave him a few expletives ... I'm still not sure if it was the right thing to do. Whatever the case, Wayne Bennett hooked him soon after.

I can laugh about it now, and we won the game, but when we catch up on old stories, that one tends to come out - the day I gave him a serve in Origin.

Rival captains Andrew Johns and Gorden Tallis look bemused holding up the Origin shield after game three in 2002.
Rival captains Andrew Johns and Gorden Tallis look bemused holding up the Origin shield after game three in 2002. ©NRL Photos

Going on to draw that final match - my last in Origin - was a great way to send "Alfie" Langer out.

He was one of my heroes growing up. I got him at a later part of his career but he was still phenomenal.

He had a huge role in helping me finish my Origin career with two series wins - despite what NSW people say about 2002.

- as told to Adam Burnett

Full Match Replay: Blues v Maroons - Game 3, 2002

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