Dead In Goal’s Origin Preview
We bring our rugby league podcast to paper to take stock of this year’s NSW-Queensland clash.
James Smith: So in 2000, I went on a World Cup supporters’ tour. The tour group got on so well that we had a number of follow-up reunion events. One of the reunions was in 2001; we caught up for Origin, the year that Allan Langer made his emergency SOS return to the Queensland side. The game was at the old QEII in Brisbane. The whole place feels as if it’s temporary – you walk up to your seat and it’s like you’re stepping up on those steel seats you had at primary school. You could feel the grandstand move beneath you. It was awesome.
Alfie had the night of his life. The Blues scored one of the fastest tries in the history of the game, after just 40 seconds, but then it was all Queensland from there. Anyway, we got flogged and I had my Blues jersey on and we were about to get on our bus to go back into the city and this little kid came up to me. He said, “Wow, do you support New South Wales, do ya?” And I said yeah, thinking what a friendly little local. And he said: “Wow, they really suck, don’t they?” Until I hooked up with a Queenslander later on in life, it was my dominant memory of how “friendly” Queenslanders were …
Jeff Centenera: I grew up outside of the two great states that constitute this rivalry, so I didn’t get to watch it growing up. The first Origin match I really felt a part of was when I was going to uni in Queensland. I had been living overseas for the previous five years, so I was looking forward to game one in 1995.
It just so happened that my first chance to watch this great showcase coincided with the Super League split. Almost the entire first-choice Maroons’ side was out of commission, because they weren’t aligned with the ARL. I remember there was a sense of hopelessness in Queensland – they felt they didn’t even have a team, and it was being coached by Paul Vautin, no less.
Damned if they go out and win that match, 2-0. It was dour, but it produced a fair bit of Origin lore: Ben Ikin showing up and Fatty not knowing who he was, Billy Moore screaming “Queenslander”, Gary Larson’s ironman performance. It left me with an idea for all time about Origin – even when it’s bad, it can still be pretty great.