Queensland State of Origin coach, Paul Vautin made it clear Allan Langer would not have a saloon passage back into the Maroons’ squad, if Super League players were considered for the 1996 series against New South Wales.
Queensland made a 3-0 clean sweep of the ’95 series, with Adrian Lam at halfback, and Vautin said he was happy to go again with those same players. But, always the realist, he acknowledged that some of the Super League aligned superstars, such as halfback, ‘Alfie’ Langer would be hard to keep out of the side.
In 1995 the selectors ignored players who had signed with the ‘rebel’ organisation. Compromise was possible, it seemed, as the New Year approached, but it was more likely Super League would run a rival competition to the ARL.
The impediment to SL, was a Federal Court case in February. If the ARL won, then the rebel clubs would be forced to remain in the ARL. In that situation, the rebel players would be reluctant participants, in a competition they wanted to turn their backs on.
But, of course, they would be paid big money by News Ltd., the backers of Super League, until court appeals were exhausted.
Vautin said he was confident the SL players would buy into his Origin message.
“I’m sure Queensland will play with the same passion as this year,” he said. “Those blokes saw what we did, and they would be acutely aware that our team of no-names, did what they couldn’t do the previous three years”.
Super League and the South Australian Government were deep in talks about the establishment of a team there in 1996, with the ‘Aces’ the suggested name.
Super League expected to relocate about 100 people to Adelaide, including players and support staff. Former North Queensland Cowboys’ coach, Grant Bell was based in Adelaide late in 1995, preparing under-19 and under-17 players.
Bell had been succeeded in Townsville by Kiwi, Graham, Lowe, who announced that 1994 Qld State of Origin player, Adrian Vowles would captain the side in 1996.
Club stalwart, Wayne Treleavan was appointed coach of Wests Panthers for the inaugural Qld Cup season, replacing former Test centre, Tony Currie who had been appointed defence coach at the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos signed rugby union internationals, Peter Tanginoa (Tonga) and George Harder (Western Samoa), both 21.
Tanginoa said he believed Tongans were more suited to league than union, and if more Tongans could play in Australia, Tonga would field a strong national side. Harder played for Western Samoa in the Rugby World Cup in South Africa, where he was identified by Broncos’ scout, Cyrill Connell.
Before joining the Broncos, Tanginoa and Harder attended a camp in Canberra, where Broncos’ coach, Wayne Bennett was helping to put 20 union recruits, from the Pacific and South Africa, through a crash course in league.
Former Gold Coast Seagulls’ chief executive, Greg Bandiera was appointed CEO of Brisbane Norths. The former Newtown, Sydney Roosters and Balmain forward, was sacked by Seagulls in 1993, after publicly criticising coach, Wally Lewis, who resigned a fortnight later. Bandiera had run an indoor cricket centre at Chinchilla, before accepting the job at Norths, where Bill Gardner was first grade coach.
Wynnum-Manly signed three players from Townsville Centrals – Brad Parravicini, Justin Cantarella and Scott Tsaousis.
Judiciary chairman, Merv Hoppner was made a Life Member of the QRL’s South East Division, after more than 30 years of service.
At Villefranche-de-Rouergue in France, the Australian Schoolboys defeated their French counterparts 46-12. The touring side included the likes of Owen Craigie, Matt Gidley, Danny Buderus, Nathan Cayless and Shane Walker, and was coached by Bruce Wallace from Nowra High School.
1 Peter Tanginoa a (left) and George Harder
2 Greg Bandiera at Bishop Park, Norths’ home ground, in 1995.