Ori­gin unites old en­e­mies

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Radio Active - ERIN McWHIRTER

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.

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