Old mates now watch their sons shine on biggest stage
ONCE a week, they get on the phone and chat. Have done for years. On one end, Gold Coast builder Geordi Peats.
And on the other, Sydney truckie Manoa Thompson.
A pair of childhood mates who, 36 years after first meeting in the schoolyard at Newtown Boys High, after rising up through South Sydney’s ranks together and playing a combined 150 first-grade games, are now hoping their sons can write themselves into Origin history.
Which, says Peats, “makes us laugh”.
Neither man still able to believe how, together, their boys — NSW Origin stars Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats — are now 80 minutes from ending a Queensland dynasty.
Yet what they do know is, whatever takes place Wednesday night at ANZ Stadium, it will be something of a throwback to that 1980s playground.
“Because Jarryd,’’ says Peats snr, “he’s exactly like the old man. So much God given talent.
“Manoa was an absolute superstar too, could’ve been anything. He just didn’t give a shit. “It wasn’t him. “When we first met in Year 7, he was the class clown. Absolute idiot. And that was great because it kept a lot of us going through high school.
“He just did whatever made him happy. I’ve heard people say Manoa was as good as Jarryd, but I disagree ... I think he was better.” And as for your own son? “Like me,’’ Peats cackles. “Lunatic.
“Even runs like I did, the poor bastard. “I feel sorry for him.” Speak with Thompson, who rises at 3am every morning to drive his truck, and he also sees history repeating.
“Nathan plays so hard,” he says. “Just like Geordi, who was also one tough hooker.
“And knuckle? I remember a fight broke out in SG Ball against Norths ... Geordi left several heads hanging over the fence.”
Another who sees two worlds colliding is retired Newtown schoolteacher Bruce Wallace.
“Jarryd and Nathan, so much like their fathers,’’ says the man who taught and coached both. “Geordie was actually a promising boxer.
“Was training with Johnny Lewis and Jeff Fenech but, because he struggled to make weight, decided to stay with footy.” And Manoa? “Scored the try that won us the ‘ 84 John Sattler Shield,’’ he recalls. “Brilliant. The early edition of Jarryd Hayne.”
Both fathers are also incredibly proud of their sons, who now play together for Gold Coast. When asked about son Nathan, who churned through 49 tackles in a frenetic Origin debut, Peats laughs: “Nutcase.”
He added: “Just look at his injuries — broken neck, cruciate, a few other things. They say injuries happen to everyone but, no, they happen to blokes who try to make 50 tackles a game and put a shot on for every one of them.
“Unfortunately, Nathan has no respect for his body.
“I’ve tried telling him to pull his head in. Said watch Cameron Smith, watch how he doesn’t feel the need to kill someone every tackle. “But nobody wants to win a game more than Nathan. He gives everything to his mates and you have to appreciate that.”
Thompson is equally proud of Jarryd adding: “The way people doubt him, water off a duck’s back now.
“They say he’s lazy, doesn’t fit the Gold Coast puzzle, whatever. He just keeps proving them wrong.”
NATHAN WITH HIS MOTHER, PAM RICHARDS, AND GEORDI
JARRYD AND MANOA
NATHAN AND GEORDI