FLASHBACK: July 1975

JULY 1975
Queensland Rugby League Chairman, Senator Ron McAuliffe called for the Maroons to be included as a separate entity, in future international tournaments, after they came within an ace of winning the 1975 inter-state series against a star studded New South Wales side.
It was Queensland parochialism at its best – or worst – depending on your point of view.
McAuliffe’s thinking was calibrated on the fact Great Britain had split into English and Welsh teams for the 1975 World Series, which was also contested by Australia, New Zealand and France, and played on a home and away – southern hemisphere/northern hemisphere – basis. (Australia won, finishing top of the points table, despite playing a draw with England in Sydney, and being beaten by England in Wigan).
Queensland won the first match of the 1975 inter-state series 14-8 at Lang Park in Brisbane, but then were beaten 27-18 in the return clash at the same ground, both matches being played in May. The decider was not played until July 19, at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and attracted a crowd of only 15,344.
Former Test halfback, Barry Muir had succeeded another former Test halfback, New South Welshman, Wally O’Connell, as Queensland coach in 1974, and in that series there were two draws at Lang Park, after the Blues won the first match in Sydney.
The 1975 decider saw NSW display their arrogance by choosng a young teasm, instead of sticking with hardened veterans.
NSW scored the only try of the match, when new winger, Allan McMahon crossed after a characteristic burst by centre, Steve Rogers, a former Gold Coast Tigers’ player. Mick Cronin converted from the sideline, to give the Blues a 9-6 lead, early in the second half.
For the most part it was dour football, something I can confirm, after having watched the game live, on television, at the Taree Bowls Club, with good mate, Brian Atherton.
Halfback, Ross Strudwick was Queensland’s best back, while in the forwards, Lew Platz and Johnny Lang were outstanding. All three had played for Australia.
For the Blues, Rogers was the best of the backs, while lock, Ron Coote led by example in the forwards. Graeme Hughes, regarded by many Sydney critics as potentially the best forward in Australia, played soundly, without being brilliant. Les Mara, Balmain’s pomising young five eighth, also did well in his first rep match. Former Wallaby fullback, Russell Fairfax played on the wing for NSW, but was sorely neglected.
McAuliffe said Queensland had to be allowed to enter future international series as a separate force.
“But we won’t be sitting around, waiting for that to happen,” he said. “Queensland Rugby League is on the move, looking for new talent, here and away, seeking not just to hold the present standard at a high level it now enjoys, but to move on to new heights”.
Queensland lost the next five series in a row, without winning a game, and in July 1980, State of Origin football began.
1 Johnny Lang, playing for Brisbane Easts, is hauled in by Wests’ Greg ‘Slippery’ McCarthy
2 Lew Platz, playing for City against Country, is tackled by Des McGovern Jnr. Gary Prickett is the City support player (Photo, Jim Fenwick)
3 Allan McMahon
4 Graeme Hughes.

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