Ipswich Jets and Brisbane Brothers kicked off a new era in Queensland Rugby League when they were given the honour of playing the first match in the 1982 $500,000 Winfield State League competition, which was designed mainly to strengthen football in the regions.
The Jets, with captain-coach, Greg Quinn an inspirational figure, put up a brave showing, before going down 13-7 to Brothers, on a wet Friday night at the North Ipswich Reserve. Ipswich led 7-3 at three quarter time, with Quinn, a former Brothers’ player, having scored from a Trevor Wendt bomb. But two mistakes in the final quarter led to tries to Brisbane representative winger, Bligh Davidson (his second) and nuggety five eighth, Peter Lehman.
Brothers were coached by Wayne Bennett, with halfback, Greg Smith the skipper and veteran, Tony Obst at lock.
Ipswich Jets Old Boys Day on Saturday, March 19, 2022, fell on the 40th anniversary of that match, with the 2022 Jets at home to the Northern Pride from Cairns. The ‘current’ side wore a heritage jersey, minus the Kentucky Fried Chicken – Colonel Sanders’ sponsor’s logo, which adorned the front of the 1982 outfit.
Michael Nunn from ‘The Queensland Times’ newspaper attended Old Boys Day, and interviewed players from that 1982 clash, including halfback, Kevin Langer, who had captained the Australian under-18 side the previous year. Langer was chosen for the Jets from Ipswich club side, Norths.
“I remember everyone was bigger than me,” Langer told Nunn.
Brothers’ hooker that night in 1982 was Trevor Bailey, and he told Nunn that the crowd had given the Brothers’ boys plenty of stick.
“I think rugby league banter was invented in Ipswich,” Bailey said.
I covered the match for the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’, with my own stats man, Mick Nunan as my sidekick for the trip to the coal city. I knew Mick from my time at Murwillumbah, and he was keen to help out. I also covered the Sunday Lang Park double header, which kicked off with a clash between 1981 Country champions, the North Queensland Marlins, and Brisbane premiers, Souths Magpies.
North Queensland led 6-2 just after halftime, with Proserpine hooker, Eddie Muller giving his side plenty of possession. But Souths hit the go button and scored freely, with winger, Gary Thompson crossing for three tries. Referee, Eddie Ward sent off NQ centre, Paul Finlay in the final quarter, following a high tackle. The make-up of the NQ team had been panned by the local media, particularly the Townsville Bulletin.
Wests Panthers were the giant killers of the first round, defeating Woolies’ pre-season champions, Valleys 21-15 in the late match at Lang Park, with former Manly-Warringah centre, Mick Waller scoring two tries. The experience of former Test halfback, Greg Oliphant and a non-stop effort from second rower, Brett Ferguson were key factors in the win by Wests.
Valleys missed the genius of suspended Queensland skipper, Wally Lewis who was spending three weeks on the sidelines, after being found guilty of gouging. Initially he had been banned for eight weeks. Wests also started without brilliant fullback, Tony Currie who was dropped to the bench by coach, John Lohman after arriving late for training. Wests did not win a game in the pre-season.
Toowoomba became the standard bearers for the country sides, courtesy of an 18-7 win over Brisbane Norths at the Athletic Oval, Toowoomba, with international forward, Rohan Hancock from Killarney leading the way. Hancock, never one to take a backward step, had a fiery tussle with Norths’ noted enforcer, Shane Bernardin, with both men sent to the sin bin, after one exchange in the third quarter. Bernardin was fortunate not to have been sent off altogether, after a high shot on Toowoomba’s Col Lindenberg.
Queensland fullback, Colin Scott was outstanding in Wynnum-Manly’s 28-12 win over Wide Bay at Maryborough, silencing critics who had been calling for Souths’ Ken Spencer to come into the State side. The Bulls’ best was lock, Steve MacDonald, who had played second row for New South Wales Country in a shock win over City at the SCG in 1975, with Ron Coote captain of the City side. MacDonald was playing in the Riverina at the time. In 1982, he was playing in the Maryborough competition.
Wide Bay had played a final trial against Gympie on the Thursday before the match, with coach, Gary Pearson irate that some of his players had not been following the training programs sent to them. “It’s obvious that some have not been training on their own, as they were asked to do,” Pearson said, after the narrow win over Gympie.
Redcliffe held on for a 17-12 win over Gold Coast Vikings at a packed Owen Park, Southport, with the Peter Inskip coached Vikings firing up the the fans with powerful defence. Five eighth, Pat Shepherdon’s fine tactical kicking kept Redcliffe on the back foot, but the Dolphins had just enough class to get the two points.
Easts Tigers thrashed Central Queensland 31-8 at Emerald, with prop, Shane McNally landing eight goals. CQ had had an intense week of training in Blackwater under coach, Johnny Rhodes, a former Test winger. But CQ conceded five tries and scored only two, one of them by former State lock, Ian Thinee.
In other news of the week, former Test prop, Greg Veivers was appointed coach of the Brisbane under-18 representative side.