FLASHBACK: June 1998


Queensland State of Origin coach, Wayne Bennett was refusing media interviews, because of negative press surrounding the selection of the Maroons side, which included a host of players from his Broncos’ club.

Much of Wayne’s anger was directed at me, because I had the temerity to write a comment piece, criticising the selection of Broncos’ enforcer, Peter Ryan who was coming off a long ban for a particularly nasty tackle.

Qld won the first match of the series 24-23 in Sydney, with Tonie Carroll scoring the winning try in the dying seconds.

Afterwards, Bennett expressed his disgust and dismay at some of the editorial comment in the official match program, including the criticism of one or two players in the pen pictures.

I agree with Bennett. In official match programs, pen pictures should detail a player’s career achievements, not question the merit of his selection. As much as anything else, the program is meant to be a keep sake for the players and officials involved on the day.

Prior to that match, I had been ‘editor’ of many match programs, and I think Bennett thought I was the author on this occasion. In fact, I had nothing to do with the Origin programs in 1998.

New South Wales went on to beat Queensland 26-10 in the return match at Suncorp Stadium, the Blues’ fourth straight win at the venue. NSW halfback, Andrew Johns was man of the match.

Four days later, Parramatta beat the Broncos at ANZ Stadium with Queenslander, Clinton Schifcofske, a former Crushers’ player, the star for the Eels.

In England, Queenslander, Matt Elliott was coaching Bradford Bulls and June was not a happy time, with Bradford losing three games on the trot (to Warrington, Wigan and Salford) before getting up against Huddersfield.

Australians on Bradford’s books were Graeme Bradley, Jeremy Donougher and Danny Peacock. Bradford also boasted Harvey Howard, who had played a season with Wests in Sydney. Howard, who grew up on a farm at Burtonwood in Cheshire, would join the Brisbane Broncos in 2000 and feature in their grand final winning side.

Photo: Danny Peacock

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