Origin unites old enemies
TAKING the field for a rugby league State-of-Origin game is a thrill legends of the sport Peter Sterling and Wally Lewis find difficult to describe.
There’s nothing like the crowd noise generated by the appearance from the dressing rooms of the New South Wales Blues and Queensland’s Maroons.
The punters know how passionate players from both teams are about playing well for their state.
It’s clear the commentators, who played in victories and devastating losses against each other (Lewis with Queensland and Sterling with NSW), share a good-natured rivalry as they prepare for the second game of the 2008 Origin series.
Sterling likens their banter to his State-of-Origin Channel 9, Wednesday, 7.30pm Bitter rivals go head to head Duration: 2½ hours relationship with former Maroons player and coach Paul Vautin, with whom he co-hosted the NRL Footy Show for more than 12 years.
‘‘The beauty of it, having played against Wally and been on the end of some of his genius and disappointment over the years, is that my respect for him as a player has come through off the field as well,’’ Sterling, 47, says.
‘‘It’s a nice relationship because I think we genuinely like each other and can have a shot at each other.’’
Though Queensland has taken the title for the past two years, Lewis says the 2008 series makes for exciting viewing.
‘‘I just can’t wait for the game to start,’’ he says.
Lewis is in a positive frame of mind, back reading Nine’s sports news in Brisbane after a year off.
In February 2007, he had brain surgery to control his epilepsy.
Sterling has also enjoyed a reduced schedule. He is able to spend more time with his family after leaving NRL’s The Footy Show in 2006.
‘‘The one thing that helps is that my wife actually realises that sitting there watching rugby league games is work,’’ he says.
‘‘In my job I need to be able to say, ‘That is the move that Melbourne scored against Newcastle’. The best thing a colour commentator can do is predict, that’s why it’s important to watch all the games.’’
Respect: rugby league greats Peter Sterling (left) and Wally Lewis join forces in the commentary box.