NSW captain Boyd Cordner in tears as Wade Graham declares 'I let down the entire state

Dejected: Blues forward Wade Graham blames himself for the loss. Photo: Getty Images
Dejected: Blues forward Wade Graham blames himself for the loss. Photo: Getty Images

How much did losing Origin II hurt the NSW players?

Captain Boyd Cordner walked into the dressing room following Queensland's miracle 18-16 win in tears, heartbroken over the loss but also the possibility of a torn calf ruling him out of the decider.

According to those in the room, the Blues sat in silence for 10 minutes, unable to fathom what had just transpired. Contrast it to half-time when they were reassuring each other, "We've got these [expletives]".

Players wear defeat in different ways, especially the modern-day one. Some smile and laugh with loved ones: it doesn't mean they don't care, although there's nothing worse than seeing defeated players hugging and joking with the opposition on the field.

But it was the reaction of Cordner and back-rower Wade Graham long after the match that stood out the most. I've never seen a player more shattered after a loss than Cordner, in any code.

​"It's hard, mate," he said with tears welling in his eyes and bottom lip quivering. "It hurts. I'm an emotional bloke. I hate losing but the best thing is the way we played game one puts ourselves in a position to take it to game three. We can take plenty of confidence out of that. It's not over, mate. Our best footy is ahead of us."

Asked about his injured calf muscle that clearly hampered him late in the match, he said: "Yeah, it wasn't good. Late in the game, I felt it."

Blues officials say Cordner's emotions after the match reflected how pessimistic he was about being fit for the deciding match at Suncorp Stadium on July 12. He was awaiting the results of scans on Thursday morning.

Consider his lot: he was tantalisingly close to a series win, in his first as captain, but could now miss the decider and chance to make things right.

Graham, on the other hand, wasn't in tears but looked like he wanted to tear someone apart. It turned out to be himself. He was furious.

"I f---ing let in the tackle that let them back in it," he said. "I feel like I've let down the entire state. That missed tackle. You have to nail it and I didn't nail it and I've let the whole team down."

Graham was referring to the moment in the 52nd minute when he raced up out of the line on Maroons lock Josh McGuire, who shrugged him off, who then found halfback Cooper Cronk, who then found winger Dane Gagai, who then scored the try that got them back into the match.

Said Cordner: "He shouldn't blame himself. It's a team effort. He shouldn't put that on himself."

So what happens now?

Coach Laurie Daley won't make many changes – if any – for game three, although dogs are already barking for centre Jarryd Hayne, who blew a try in the first half and then coughed up possession late in the second.

Daley's most onerous task is trying to get his players to believe again. Hopefully NSW will play better coming off a loss than they did a victory. But how much psychological damage has been done?

"It's good for onlookers looking in to see how much we're hurting because it shows how much we care," Graham said. "They can know how much it means to everyone."