The NSW Blues bounced back from a shock loss in last year’s State of Origin Series by humiliating the Qld Maroons 50-6.
It was such a shock score that I set my alarm for 5:10 am the next morning. Yep, 50-6 is 5:10 am.
Penrith’s great form over the last two seasons saw five players picked for the Blues and one for the Maroons.
Two of their players on debut, who played starring roles, were five-eighth Jerome Luai and winger Brian To’o.
Many people questioned their selection. Some claimed that Canberra’s Jack Wighton, who is the current Dally M Medalist, should have played five-eighth — and that Brian To’o was too short for the wing.
Blues coach Brad Fittler decided to give them a go, however, and they repaid him in the best way possible — To’o scoring a double and Luai linking brilliantly with halfback Nathan Cleary to lead a dominant Blues pack around the park.
I never doubted they would make it in the toughest rugby league competition of them all — State of Origin. Why, you might ask?
Igor is about 15 yards from me. As he bears down on me, I can make out a bead of sweat, trickling down into his 5 O’clock shadow, which is very scary when you are in 1st form (year 7).
Igor was athletic for such a big kid and I realised that all he had to do was use his famed left foot step and leave me for dead as he raced around for the winning try under the posts.
And then I saw his eyes and an evil grin spread across his face.
It was then I realised that instead of side-stepping me, he was going to run right over the top of me.
The time it took him to run that final 15 yards seemed to take forever.
I’m not sure what hit me first. It might have been his left knee hitting me in the stomach, or it could have been his right.
I’ll never know, because by then my eyes were closed.
As I flew backwards through the air, I prayed desperately that I would slow him down enough to give someone else a chance to tackle him.
By now I was lying flat on my back on the ground, with a massive pain in my chest.
I opened my eyes to find that the chest pain was in fact Igor’s foot, which I was clutching with both hands.
I had made the tackle and we won the Grand Final.
The whole school was watching and cheering me for my courageous tackle. At least I assumed they were.
There was so much ringing in my ears that I couldn’t hear anyone for another 15 minutes.
Then, a couple of weeks later, I suffered a knee injury while working as a St Johns Ambulance boy on the sidelines of another rugby league game, and that folks spelled the end of my footy career — but that’s another story for another day.
Pat’s Boys are bred tough. That’s why I knew Luai and To’o wouldn’t let us down.
And remember, there’s no such thing as too much sport!