It was the "sliding doors" moment that Darren Lockyer admits saved his representative career.
When Lockyer pounced on an errant Brett Hodgson pass to score and clinch the 2006 State of Origin series, he launched a remarkable Queensland dynasty.
But Lockyer has revealed how close the series finale 14 years ago in Sydney came to becoming his Maroons swansong.
These days the former Queensland and Test skipper is considered a future Immortal.
But in 2006, Lockyer was considered expendable.
Staring down a then record fourth-straight series loss to NSW, Maroons captain Lockyer was copping it from both sides of the Tweed River.
Ex-NSW coach Phil Gould penned a column saying Queensland should tap Lockyer on the shoulder.
Even former Maroons came out in the media claiming Lockyer's time was up in Origin.
The criticism stung Lockyer.
"There was a lot of heat coming towards the team," Lockyer told Wide World of Sports.
"Gus (Gould) wrote an article that Queensland needed to move on from Lockyer as captain, because it's not working...I used it as motivation.
"There was people north of the border, ex-players that were sort of starting to rip into us....it was the kick in the backside that I needed to get that last five per cent out of me, which gave me a really steely focus."
However, Lockyer said a sobering warning from new Queensland coach Mal Meninga provided the most motivation.
Meninga's message was simple - veterans Lockyer, Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price would be on the outer if NSW won four series in a row.
"If we don't win that game or that series ... myself and Petero and Pricey, we were put on notice by Mal," Lockyer said.
"It was Mal's first year but he said 'look, if results don't go our way after game one, I'm gonna have to make changes'.
"If that moment (game three try) doesn't happen, our rep careers are totally different, we might not even have played for Queensland again.
"I would maybe have not played for Australia again.
"It was a sliding door moment."
Remarkably, Lockyer went from fearing his representative days were numbered to completing his most dominant season in 2006.
He led Brisbane to their sixth NRL title and Australia to Tri-Nations glory, collecting the Golden Boot Award along the way.
Thanks to an errant pass, Lockyer went on to star for Queensland and Australia for another five years before his 2011 retirement, setting up the Maroons' stunning run of 11 Origin series wins in 12 years including a record eight in succession.
"I am just glad it happened," Lockyer said of his Origin III moment.
Australian Associated Press