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4 June, 2021

North Queensland, an Origin nursery

From its earliest days, Origin has ignited the passions of people not just in Queensland or New South Wales but Australia-wide and internationally.

By Peter McCullagh

Essential to the success of Origin would have to be the rugby league bloodlines from North Queensland. From Mackay to the Cape, North Queenslanders have joined the march, with one focussed goal, “Let’s do it for Queensland.”

Fatty Vautin famously quipped that when you pull on a Queensland jumper you grow a foot taller and feel invincible.

Rugby league is our State and National game, and Origin awakens the most basic fibre within us, the sense of belonging. We are Queenslanders, first and foremost.

This week the Queensland government paid the greatest tribute to the 30 plus Queensland Origin representatives who hailed from or played their formative years on the dusty field of Townsville or lush greens of Mackay and Cairns.

From the Innisfail Flyer through to Townsville’s Gordie, Mackay to the Cape, we have produced some of the greatest and most memorable Origin players.

It has reportedly cost the Queensland government $7 - $8m to bring the game to the heart of the North. That’s a small cost compared to the priceless memories and treasured moments our Origin stars have delivered to the towns and cities they hail from.

 The rollcall is impressive and by no mean totally complete: Nate Myles, Ty Williams, Gene Miles, Matt Bowen, Tonie Currie, Greg Dowling, Sam Backo, Paul Hauff, Gavin Allen, Carl Webb, Gordon Tallis, Paul Bowman, Valentine Holmes, Dale Shearer, big Martin Bella and the legendary ‘Billy the Kid’ Slater.

You could name a complete virtually unbeatable North Queensland State of Origin team from our representatives.

What does bringing the game to Townsville mean for us? Yes there’s recognition of the important role we play in creating magical origin moments, but also this sends a message loud and clear to the rest of Australia.

Queensland is open for business, we are adaptable and very nimble. We can respond quickly as we did to stage the WNBL season last year.

Melbourne is in lock-down and crisis. We can and will step up at a moment’s notice. The AFL season is under pressure, we have an excellent national AFL standard facility here in Cairns.

Origin has given us a chance to cheer and celebrate, but we have also secured a world-wide television and media opportunity for our region. Plus we prove that nothing, absolutely nothing can stand in the way of Queensland when we are on a roll and focussed on the prize.

Peter McCullagh


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