So much for the brains trust; Fit­tler, Alexan­der, Johns and Buderus can learn a lot from Reg Rea­gan

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WHAT'S THE BUZZ -

Iam hear­ing you, NSW. I was as dis­ap­pointed as you in the in­ept garbage served up by our team in game one.

I’m not one for point­ing the fin­ger but, in the great rugby league tra­di­tion of as­sis­tant coaches white-anting their se­niors, I lay the blame en­tirely on Fit­tler, Alexan­der, Johns and Buderus. If I ate a sausage for ev­ery time one of the Fool­ish Four ig­nored my warnings, I’d look like Clive Palmer, pre-lap band surgery. I can hear my­self now … “Joey, should we re­ally play this way?”

“Brandy, should we re­ally de­fend like that?”

“Freddy, are you sure smok­ing this is le­gal?”

The an­swer to all should have been NO!!!

So, I’m tak­ing a leaf out of the book of the world’s most feared dic­ta­tors, Rus­sia’s Joseph Stalin, Iraq’s Sad­dam Hus­sein, Par­ra­matta’s Brian Smith, and as­sum­ing con­trol.

My first or­der of duty is to ditch our base of Coogee. The last thing these namby-pamby pretty boys need is an­other soy latte or body-on-body “happy fin­ish” massage at Bondi Junc­tion.

I’m tak­ing them on an apol­ogy tour of coun­try NSW so they can see the tears of the or­phans and sin­gle moth­ers they let down in Ori­gin 1.

Yoga and earth­ing are out, ac­count­abil­ity is in!!


As the team gathers at Coogee, I break the news that this camp will be a tour of the coun­try re­gions.

For the city play­ers, most of them had no idea what is con­sid­ered “coun­try”. Cameron Mur­ray thought I meant Par­ra­matta.

But it won’t just be an op­por­tu­nity for coun­try fans to vent their dis­gust at the apolo­getic team.

Dur­ing the bond­ing ses­sions be­fore game one, I couldn’t help but no­tice the play­ers drinking a sub­stance called “light beer”. Ap­par­ently it con­tains less al­co­hol.

The play­ers ex­plained: “It helps with re­cov­ery.”

Re­cov­ery? I’ve never heard of any­thing so ridiculous.

Losers re­cover, winners cel­e­brate. Hence why I’ve never re­cov­ered in my life.

This camp will not be about re­cov­ery; it will be about say­ing “sorry” and cel­e­brat­ing in ad­vance.


We board the bus at 6am for the trip to Dubbo. The boys are given a Tooheys New for break­fast.

On board the bus, I put on a favourite old film of mine, A Nightmare on Elm St.

It’s the heart­warm­ing story of a jolly old man named Freddy Krueger who tries to kill these an­noy­ing teenagers in their dreams. It’s a les­son in re­spect­ing your el­ders.

Damien Cook asks if we can watch a com­edy in­stead. I put on our se­cond-half per­for­mance from game one and laugh all the way to Dubbo.


We ar­rive in the town and the bus is pelted with rocks by out­raged Blues fans. Luck­ily, I calm the lo­cals, given I’m a hero in the town af­ter my out­stand­ing sea­son with Dubbo CYMS back in ’87.

I di­rect the bus straight to Dubbo Zoo and we head im­me­di­ately to the Lion Pride Lands sec­tion.

My old half­back at CYMS, Teddy “Too Tough” Tun­stell, runs the lion park and has done me a favour and not fed the mag­nif­i­cent crea­tures for three days. I or­der the team off the bus, strap a 1kg sir­loin to each of their backs and wish them all the best as we drive off.

With the hungry beasts in des­per­ate pur­suit, it’s fair to say the Ital­ian Stal­lion, Paul Vaughan, has found that ex­tra me­tre of speed I’ve been ask­ing for.


Injury con­cerns cen­tre on Jake Trbojevic af­ter he did a hammy and was mauled by an an­gry li­on­ess. Women, eh?

Our next stop is a spe­cial one for me. It’s the place I re­ceived my Coun­try Player of the Cen­tury award last year — Ar­mi­dale (or as I call is Harmi­dale, a clever ref­er­ence to the amount of car­nage I caused in the place).

We gather on the town hall steps, where the greater com­mu­nity gathers and screams abuse and ob­scen­i­ties at our un­der­per­form­ing squad.

The high­light is when a kinder­garten class arrives and is given a les­son on how the use of four-let­ter words is OK, if used in con­text. Hav­ing said that, I think lit­tle Cindy Sum­mer’s cri­tique of Boyd Cord­ner’s per­for­mance was way over the top. No one de­serves to be called that!


I take the team to the coun­try mu­sic cap­i­tal, Tamworth, for a night of beer and good old coun­try and west­ern mu­sic.

The only catch is, it’s the team who will pro­vide the mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment for the large crowd gath­ered at the Al­bert Ho­tel.

James Tedesco, Josh Ad­doCarr and Tyson Frizell start tak­ing re­quests from the Tamworth faith­ful. It’s all go­ing great un­til a group of smar­tarses start re­quest­ing Lit­tle River Band’s Lone­some Loser and Kenny Rogers’ Cow­ard of the County.


We ar­rive in Cessnock just days be­fore game two. Time for se­ri­ous match prepa­ra­tion.

I pre­tend to or­gan­ise a meal at Pe­den’s Ho­tel but in­stead gather a group of an­gry lo­cals who don’t take kindly to strangers in their town.

It brings back great memories, watch­ing coal­fields lo­cals giv­ing the out-oftown­ers a good hid­ing and, be­fore you know it, ev­ery­one’s at the bar hav­ing a laugh and a beer. There’s noth­ing like vi­o­lence to bring a com­mu­nity closer. I sense the team are ready.


We ar­rive in Perth. It re­minds me just what a great coun­try Aus­tralia was in the 70s.

The team have their game faces on. Certa Vic­to­ria. Vic­tory is cer­tain. Blues by 10.

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