Five biggest State of Origin smokies
Queensland Maroons celebrate Billy Slater's try. AAP Image/Paul Miller
Well, it’s starting to get cold outside, but that stench you smell ain’t coming from any wood fire. No that’s the smoke pouring out of the New South Wales selection panel.
By choosing young Manly benchie Jamie ‘I can’t believe it’s not’ Buhrer for their Origin 1 team, Ricky and his buddy Bozo have continued a tradition of trying to pull a swifty on their interstate adversaries with the selection of a smokie.
History shows that some Origin smokies have been more successful than others, but no matter how they go they’re bound to grab a few headlines. Here are five of the smokiest.
5. Phil Bailey
While everyone looks back at a time in their lives that they consider to be their peak, Phil Bailey must look back on 2003 and wonder if he’s been subjected to some Total Recall style memory implantation .
The rich man’s Chris Bailey, Phil Bailey was a toiling second-rower who hit form in 2003 when moved to centre for the Sharks, resulting in Origin and later Australian selection.
Despite most fans asking why Luke Bailey had been named twice, Phil performed his duties like a trusty Holden ute with little fuss and maximum facial stubble, the highlight of which was picking a fight with the usually unflappable Shane Webcke.
Not long afterwards, Bailey disappeared into the representative void, shifting to the ESL a couple of years later. He left behind his brother Chris, to the eternal gratitude of Manly fans.
4. Adam Mogg
In a game where 22 year olds talk about setting an example for immature younger players (no spirits on weeknights, boys), making your Origin debut aged 28 is about as likely as being in the crowd at a Justin Bieber concert at the same age.
Needless to say, Mogg’s selection in Game 2 2006 caused outcry, with wails of “Origin is Dead!” (the Queensland media’s version of “Muuuum! They’re cheating!”).
History shows that old man Mogg shuffled over for two tries in that game and one in the decider, which was won by Queensland, who soon after proposed that future series become best of seven.
3. Ben Ikin
If one man’s selection personifies the madness Super League brought on the 1995-97 representative calendar, it’s Ben ‘Believe you me’ Ikin.
Selected as a replacement back for the sticky-taped 1995 Queensland team years before Tim Sheens made it cool, Ikin was a pimply-faced eighteen year old chosen specifically for his ability to double up as the team’s kicking tee boy on match day.
From token selection smokie to seasoned campaigner, then coming full cycle as token Queenslander on Channel Nine’s commentary panel, Ikin managed to linger around rep footy like Chris Close at the Queensland team’s hotel buffet, and can even be credited with inventing the Queensland team victory song. (Which I’m pretty sure even Wayne Bennett mutes.)
2. Ken Nagas
“What?” Says everyone who used to be a Canberra fan. “Nagas was a gun!”
That he was. Nagas’ selection smoke in 1994 comes from the fact that he was a winger selected on the bench… and that he thought he was a Queenslander.
Proving he was years before his time, Nagas played for New South Wales none the less, before Super League interrupted the best years of his rep career and injury forced him to knock back a few AFL offers.
1. Allan Langer
If Langer’s initial Origin selection from the BRL in 1987 was a little unexpected, then seeing him run out for the deciding match in 2001 was like Tony Abbott appearing on an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
Depending on whether you call small beer glasses pots or middies, his match-winning return to Origin from the North of England is either something you have immortalised on an overpriced lithograph in your pool room, or find yourself babbling about to your therapist each July.
Suffice to say, short of seeing Carl Webb stretching his glutes at Etihad Stadium next Wednesday, it’s hard to see Alfie’s effort ever being topped.
However I’ve heard if things don’t go to plan, Ricky could be saving something really special for Origin 2…
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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