Best thing out of NSW is the road to QLD victories

Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Coen Bradshaw and Luke Warby pledge their State of Origin allegiances prior to game two on Sunday at Optus Stadium.
Camera IconCoen Bradshaw and Luke Warby pledge their State of Origin allegiances prior to game two on Sunday at Optus Stadium. Credit: Justin Fris

In my view, there is only three good things to come out of NSW — Sydney airport, the M1 highway from Tweed Heads and Tooheys New.

And when it comes to rugby league, there is nothing better than watching Queensland (the Maroons) give the Blues a fair old kicking.

Growing up on the Gold Coast, State of Origin was everything.

It was always on a Tuesday or Wednesday night, which meant you would race home and order a heap of pizza (a rare treat in the Fris household) and gather around the TV.

When you turned 18, bars in Surfers Paradise would entice you with free schooners until the first try, with special half-time entertainment.

Even at a young age, I hated it whenever “New South” won a game, let alone a series.

You’d go to school the next day and every kid from NSW would ditch their school uniform for the day and wear their Blues jersey, talking about how much better things were south of the border.

Funnily enough, Maroons supporters would never pull that stunt. They’d just smile and get along with their day.

Which is somewhat fitting, considering in the 1990s how often the Maroons had their backs against the wall in terms of playing stocks.

But despite my loathing of the Blues, I do respect them and their ability to produce quality coaches and players.

Three men have haunted my Origin experiences over the past 15 years – Andrew Johns, Phil Gould and Akuila Uate.

Whenever Johns or Uate got the ball in a game, I would hold my breath for dear mercy, as both men had the ability to change a game within a second if given the chance.

While as a coach, Gould always got under Queensland skins with his parochialism and ability to get the best out of his sides.

Following Origin over in WA has also gone under significant change. Gone are the days where I’d have to turn my phone and social media off, while I waited for a delayed telecast of the match.

Keen to get a taste of Origin fever, I ventured out to the Sportspower Super Store in Bunbury in the lead up to the game and noticed a considerable amount of interest around town.

Store owner Kelli Hayward confirmed my hunch that interest had indeed peaked with the game in Perth, with merchandise from both sides flying off the shelves ahead of game two.

I’ll sign off with the following statement — “Real men wear maroon”.

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