Beers, yoga and pas­sion

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - ORIGIN GAME II -

STEVE ‘Blocker’ Roach rep­re­sented NSW in 17 State of Ori­gin matches be­tween 1984 and 1991.

Tonight in Perth, Blues for­ward Paul Vaughan will play in the same front-row po­si­tion Blocker made fa­mous.

A lot has changed in 28 years, from the coach­ing staff to match-day menu, as David Riccio re­veals in this Ori­gin edi­tion of Then And Now.

IN­SIDE CAMP Blocker: “In those days, we wouldn’t have 10-day camps, we’d have seven days.

“We used to play State of Ori­gin on a Tues­day then play in the Amco Cup on Wed­nes­day night.

“It was an em­bar­rass­ment if you didn’t back-up the next day. That’s what you did.

“We used to stay at Cam­per­down (Ry­dges) Travel Lodge, be it for Ori­gins or Test matches. It’s still there — it looks ex­actly the same as it did 30 years ago.” Vaughan: “We’ve been based in Perth since Mon­day, stay­ing at a nice ho­tel (Ren­dezvous) right on the beach, which is de­lib­er­ate as we do a lot of our re­cov­ery around the beach and spend each morn­ing walk­ing through our plays on the grassed ar­eas be­fore we went to train­ing at a pri­vate school.

“There’s a lot put into 10day camps, but seven days is more about re­cov­ery from your week­end’s match and stay­ing fresh.

“It’s about get­ting the plays down pat and know­ing your role within the team and find­ing that flu­ency.’’

BOOZE BANS Blocker: “We wouldn’t have a beer ev­ery night but the first three or four nights we would and then knuckle down. Vaughan: “We went out for a beer and dinner on Sun­day night. I’m sure you can have a wine with dinner through the week but it’s just up to the in­di­vid­ual.

“It also de­pends if you’re in­jured — in the first camp, I missed our bond­ing night be­cause I had an 11pm phys­io­ther­apy ses­sion.

“It’s a huge game so you have to look af­ter your­self.’’

TRAIN­ING Blocker: “The first half an hour we’d cop a ham­mer­ing on the field, es­pe­cially if we’d been out for a cou­ple of beers the night be­fore. We trained pretty hard. There were no video ses­sions. It was more a dis­cus­sion about tac­tics. What sort of com­peti­tor you were try­ing to be? Which player you needed to get over the top of?” Vaughan: “Train­ing for us starts al­most as soon as we wake up. We’ve got yoga, which is op­tional and then, at 8am, we do a walk-through out on the grass of a few of the plays. We then get on the bus and once we’re at the field, we get strapped, our ham­string flex­i­bil­ity is tested on a ma­chine and we are also weighed. Then we warm up quite in­tensely for 20 min­utes be­fore a solid 90-minute train­ing ses­sion with ball­work and de­fen­sive drills. I’ll have a protein shake as soon as I get off the field be­fore our re­cov­ery ses­sion in the pool.”

COACH­ING STAFF Blocker: “We had one coach, one doctor and one trainer. That was it. No phys­ios.” Vaughan: “To per­form at our best, we’ve got the best phys­ios, the best medi­cos, the best coaches, the best sports sci­ence technology and the best rugby league coach­ing staff this state has prob­a­bly pro­duced. An­drew Johns, Danny Buderus, Brad Fit­tler, Greg Alexan­der, they’re across ev­ery­thing.”

GAME DAY Blocker: “Game day is al­ways a funny feel­ing. Es­pe­cially in big games like Ori­gin, you don’t play un­til 8 o’clock at night. My break­fast was left­overs from the night be­fore. Spaghetti on toast. What you ate wasn’t as big a deal; we’d have a steak the af­ter­noon of the game for the protein.” Vaughan: “I like to have a swim on game day be­fore our team walk. We’ll then come back to the ho­tel for a team lunch and bunker down for the af­ter­noon. I’ll have poached eggs for break­fast and then for lunch, I’ll have pasta and sweet potato. The only thing I’ll eat in the dress­ing room be­fore the game is one or two ba­nanas.”

WARM-UP Blocker: “The only thing I stretched was my imag­i­na­tion. There was no massage, I wouldn’t even touch my toes to stretch. I’d touch my knees and say ‘away we go, boys’. I played 80 min­utes ev­ery week for 10 years. The one thing I do think about all this sports sci­ence, is that it will help the play­ers when they’re in their 50s.” Vaughan: “I get pretty ner­vous be­fore a game so the warm-up gets my heart rate up. It goes for a good 20 min­utes.’’

POST-GAME Blocker: “There was a bucket of beer in the cor­ner but it just de­pended if we’d won. You walk into a dress­ing room now and there’s fruit and paw­paw, pineap­ple on plat­ters — if I’d won Ori­gin, I’d have had six beers be­fore I’d even got in the shower. It’s great that it’s gone like that.” Vaughan: “If you’re in a los­ing side, you’re less in­clined to have a beer. But I don’t mind a beer in the rooms af­ter we’ve won.

PAY CHEQUE Blocker: “For the whole se­ries, I got $1500 and a head full of stitches. I played be­cause it’s fun, not for cash.’’ Vaughan: “Ev­ery Ori­gin player earns $30,000 per ap­pear­ance. But hon­estly, that’s the last thing on my mind.

“And maybe that’s one thing that hasn’t changed since Blocker’s days be­cause I play this game be­cause I love it and it’s so much fun.’’

The Blues’ Ben Elias and Steve Roach pre­pare to take on the Cane Toads.

Paul Vaughan cel­e­brates last year’s se­ries win while Noel Cleal, Garry Jack and Steve Roach lead the cel­e­bra­tions in 1985.

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