MOORE THAN ORIGIN
Queenslanders love State of Origin but none are as passionate about the Maroons as former barnstorming backrower and Sunshine Coast local Billy Moore.
With Game 2 of the 2018 series being played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium tomorrow night, Life & Style spoke with the league legend to get his views on his beloved team and life after football.
Where did the Maroons go wrong in Game 1?
There was a lot to like considering the adjustment in experience we had with the retirement of Cameron Smith. All in all, I thought we gave a reasonable account of ourselves but it wasn’t good enough and we need to improve and we will.
Around the middle of the ruck is where they caught us. I’ve never feared a rookie as much as I feared Damien Cook (Blues dummy half ) before the match and unfortunately it was well placed. He was brilliant. If we shut down the ruck and stop him breaching us there, you’ll shut James Tedesco too and that will go a long way to helping us in Game 2.
Would you make personnel changes to the Queensland team for Origin 2?
There will probably be changes just through the return of players who weren’t available for Game 1. If Billy Slater is right, he’d come back in at fullback, with Michael Morgan going to the bench, and that was the team initially picked anyway. Everyone talks about how great Slater is with ball in hand but defensively he’s brilliantly as well and he’ll be great helping plug that middle.
Matt Scott needs to play well for his club to force his way back in. Another guy who has put himself into calculation is Tim Glasby. He flies under the radar but he made the team last year on the back of Cam Smith saying he could do a job and he did.
We don’t need many changes at all, we just need to get a touch smarter and lift an extra 5 per cent.
The infamous catch-cry “Queenslander” is Origin folklore – when you screamed it in 1995, was it planned or a spur-of-themoment thing?
I wasn’t the creator of the “Queenslander” call. It had been in the Maroons camp for 10 years but nobody had ever seen it except for the players. The Blues players knew of it and it p---ed them off because they’d hear us yelling it on the field.
It started in the mid-80s and is a Queensland rallying cry. The late, great Peter Jackson was my first room mate and he told me what Queensland meant to him, playing for Queensland and what the Queenslander call is about. It means three things: help your mates, find a solution and no excuses.
In 1995 when you saw it publicly, it was the first time there was a camera in the tunnel. As we started walking down onto the field, and I say this in jest but it’s true, the greatest thing in my life took place. All 16 blokes shut up except me and the camera caught me screaming “Queenslander” (laughs).
How do you spend the Origin period each year?
I go to every game – I do corporate work. For Game 1 this year we hired our own jet to Melbourne, myself and Mick Crocker were the ambassadors and we had 200 people on the jet. We stayed in a five-star place, hired our own pub, went to the game. It was brilliant. The next one in Sydney I’m going on a harbour cruise. The last game I missed was for the birth of my son 12 years ago.
When you’re not busy with that, you’re flat out with Augello’s at Mooloolaba. How did you get into the restaurant game?
I’ve been a part-owner for seven years. I had a restaurant before that after I first left the North Sydney Bears, the One Up Bar in Mooloolaba. I always say it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Truly, if you think Origin is hard, having a first-floor fine-dining restaurant in Mooloolaba makes Origin look like a walk in the park (laughs).
Small business is tough. Restaurants are even tougher. About 95 per cent of all restaurants go broke or don’t make any money. Unfortunately, nobody told me that before I started. I sold out after seven years and then went away and did something else, corporate speaking and small business talks. I always said to people, “If you take one thing away from my talk, just take this – never do a restaurant.” I feel like a hypocrite because I was saying that for five years and then I went back into it but Augello’s is one in 100.
FOR THE LOVE OF ORIGIN: Billy Moore, of Augello's Restaurant, Mooloolaba. The former Queensland Maroons’ State of Origin star is still heavily involved in rugby league’s showcase series.