DIARY OF A RETIRED RUGBY LEAGUE WRITER
WEEK 17 2019
Radio TAB’s Peter Psaltis says the Newcastle Knights have a reputation as a party club. Psaltis has huge wraps on 17-year-old Souths Logan centre, Fanitei Niu, an ex Mardsen State High student.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster writes that Cowboys’ coach, Paul Green has ‘lost’ the dressing room. I wonder who the source is?
Learn of the passing of bush poet, Les Murray, who was born at Nabiac, near Wingham, where I had a season playing rugby league.
NRL 360 reflect on the time Allan ‘Alfie’ Langer was secretly flown back from England, to enter the Queensland State of Origin camp, ahead of the decider against New South Wales at Brisbane’s ANZ Stadium. It was a nightmarish time for me.
I was to go into camp with the Queensland team that week. When the team was named at Crushers Leagues Club on the Sunday, 10days out from the match, my co-league writer, Dave Potter was assigned to cover the media conference. Rugby League editor, Barry Dick told me to have a day off, because I had 10 hectic days of work in front of me, and the naming of the team should be a straight forward matter. Well, as you can imagine, all hell broke loose when the team was announced and Alfie was halfback. Dave wrote a fine story about Alf’s inclusion and then went home. Brian Burke, from ‘The Australian’, went from the media conference to the airport, on a hunch, and got an ‘exclusive’ with Alfie as he emerged from Customs. When the early edition of ‘The Australian’ came off the presses, around 11 p.m., and our people saw we had been scooped, I had a late night phone call from the Chief of Staff wanting to know where we could find Alfie, and why the hell I was having a day off when the Origin team was being named! I suggested Alf’s parents’ place at Sadliers Crossing, Ipswich. That’s where he was, but I can’t recall whether we got him at mid-night or not.
On NRL 360, Ben Ikin revealed that he had picked up Alfie from the airport, and that Alfie had flown home under an assumed name. Langer’s selection was a master stroke gamble by Queensland coach, Wayne Bennett. Of course, in this day and age, someone would have seen Alfie at Manchester Airport or Singapore Airport, and put it on social media.
The Allan Langer Cup Schoolboys’ competition was launched yesterday.
Andrew Voss has a great interview with dual rugby international, Michael ‘Snoz’ O’Connor on ‘The Fan’. ‘Snoz’ once got up me for calling him ‘docile’, saying that the term best related to dogs. The Collins Dictionary definition is: ‘Quite, calm and easily controlled’. I suppose I could have used a better word. I was referring to the fact that ‘even the normally docile O’Connor lost his cool’ after some illegality or other in an Origin match.
St George Illawarra’s English prop, James Graham admits, that what is written in ‘the papers’, is used as motivation by most players.
Viv Connell emails me to say he played fullback for Wide Bay against France in 1955, and it remains one of the proudest moments of his life. (see 1955 France Tour Diary, this website).
A female referee controls the Amiens v Strasbourg Alsace soccer match in France.
On Radio TAB, host, John McCoy says an AFL bloke told him Aussie rules was grateful not to have the ‘Polynesian problem’, which ‘afflicts’ both rugby codes. The Polynesian community is hardly represented at all in Aussie rules, and of course, the Asian community is hardly represented at all in the rugby codes AND Aussie rules. There are not that many Asian players in soccer either, at least at A League level, from what I have seen. McCoy also has been speaking to former Test referee, David Manson, who says today’s game is too predictable.
The Courier-Mail’s Peter Badel has a compelling series of articles on super coach, Wayne Bennett’s departure from the Broncos. He jokes that it would make a good movie. My wife had said the same thing the night before. Badel asked me, who would play me in the movie, given, he says, any such movie would touch on the three year media ban Bennett imposed on me, from 2001 to 2004. I suggest Geoffrey Rush. Twenty years ago I would have said Pierce Brosnan.
Mackay product, Tom Dearden makes his NRL debut for the Broncos in their 38-6 loss to South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium. He is the youngest player to make his run-on debut, at halfback, in the club’s history. He seems a lovely kid, a credit to his parents. His uncle is former Gold Coast Seagulls and South Queensland Crushers player, Don Saunders. Queensland Cup legend, Brad Davis helped fine tune Tom’s game when he played Mal Meninga Cup for Tweed Seagulls last year. Casino product, Cody Walker scores two tries for Souths.
Before the match, former Palm Beach Currumbin High School coach, Rod Patison presents one of his former star students, Darius Boyd with his 300th game jersey, and Darius sheds a tear, which is lovely to see. Darius has come a long way from the troubled young bloke I had to deal with.
Stage 1 of the Tour of Yorkshire finishes at Selby, a place where my wife and I free camped in our Kombi van during our Euro travels in 1978.
The Kiwi accent has been rated the world’s sexiest. How cen thes be, ‘Bro?
Our youngest son, Lliam’s solar energy business, Supply Partners, hosts a 10 year Anniversary Cocktail Celebration at the Royal International Convention Centre, Bowen Hills, with Beyond Blue one of the charity beneficiaries. Supply Partners has an admirable record of securing strong relationships with manufacturers. The night goes well, and Lliam and his business partners make impressive speeches.
Hermitage Gardens managers, Harry and Robyn Moore relate stories about former Test cricketers, Greg Chappell and Jeff Thompson’s shooting trips to the Whiteheads’ property near Dirranbandi. Harry and Robyn’s son, Harley is a champion rower. Harry says Taree, on the Manning River, where I lived for six months in 1975, is famous for its manufacture of rowing oars. Harry tells stories of boys from The Southport School swimming the Nerang River, for a night out in Surfers Paradise. They were bloody lucky not to be taken by a shark.
Wagga Wagga hosts its first NRL game in 20 years when the Canberra Raiders play Penrith. Wagga is a city divided between rugby league and Australian rules, although I think Aussie rules might be winning the battle.
Newcastle Knights win the Harold Matthews Cup (under-16s) competition in New South Wales while Illawarra are crowned SG Ball (under-18) champions.
It is 15 years since top rugby league journalist, Peter Frilingos died at his desk at News Limited in Sydney. Time goes quickly.
There is a work on a building site near us, in Uxbridge Street. Is that allowed? I bet, once this giant house is finished, the new owners will want peace and quiet on a Sunday, and probably demand it. No 24 Uxbridge Streethas the Australian Coat of Arms on the entrance gate. I don’t think it is a consulate.
My former Courier-Mail colleague, Andrew Dawson attends Intrust Super Cup rugby league at Davies Park with his good mate, ‘Ando’ (Peter Anderson) a former Brothers, Easts and Hull Kingston Rovers’ forward, whose son plays for Souths under-20s. Former Brothers and St George (Sydney) skipper, Trevor Bailey is a state under-20 selector.
Wynnum-Manly historian, Paul Comber says the crowd was 3,000 plus for the Wynnum v Easts match at Kougari Oval today.
1 Allan Langer
2 Barry Dick (left) with Wayne Bennett and Wayne Heming.
3 Lliam Ricketts and his wife, Channelle
4 Kougari Oval. Often the scene of big crowds.