Old mates now watch their sons shine on big­gest stage

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - SPORT - NICK WAL­SHAW

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.”




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