Take what excels, is decent, respectable, and typical of the true essence of rugby league. Then double it. For 15 years we’ve been privileged to follow the parallel careers of Brett and Josh Morris.
It has become a sacred State of Origin tradition for past players to mentor their contemporaries in the build-up to kick-off.
In the New South Wales camp, legendary halfback Andrew Johns has taken Mitchell Pearce under his wing – although, with eleven losses and six series defeats, the only striking similarity between the pair is that they’ve both been arrested outside nightclubs.
On the Queensland side, it’s not uncommon to see legends like Wally Lewis and Alfie Langer in the changerooms before big games, providing stirring words of encouragement and intermittently screaming “QUEENSLANDER” to remind their team of mostly New South Wales-born players which state they’re representing.
Coming off a crushing 24-point loss in the series opener, the Queensland side has turned to this mentoring approach in order to get the best out of some of the debutants.
“We like to pair the rookies up with a former player that can relate to their experience,” coach Kevin Walters told The Roar.
“So for Coen Hess we got in ‘The Raging Bull’, Gordy Tallis – a huge barnstorming second-rower who still haunts Brett Hodgson’s dreams to this day. A perfect fit for Hessy.”
Fleet-footed, 24-game Origin veteran Matt Sing has reportedly been an invaluable resource for the highly regarded Valentine Holmes, while Melbourne Storm’s pine-sitting specialist Tim Glasby’s been given a mentor out of left field.
“We gave Danny Nutley a buzz to see if he could give Tim a bit of a rev up. Nuts was a consistent but completely unremarkable player who only ever played one game of Origin so we thought he could really relate to Tim’s situation,” Walters explained.
“No doubt they’re both going to end up on one of those ‘Forgotten NRL Players of the 2000s’ Facebook pages one day.”
We were able to catch up with Nutley to find out what advice he’d given the debutant.
“I had a bit of trouble getting in actually,” Nutley said.
“The seccies let Singy and Wally straight through, but told me delivery drivers weren’t able to come into the rooms.”
“Even when I saw Mick Hagan (former Queensland assistant coach) hanging around out back he said ‘Hey mate, you look familiar’ – I was like ‘Hages, mate, I played in your bloody team in ’05! That’s why I’m here.’
“Anyway, I just told Tim not to put too much pressure on himself – literally nobody will even notice he’s on the field and even if he stinks it up, he won’t nearly be as bad as Pearce.
“The most important thing is to try to leave with as much gear as possible. Trackies, training singlets, even those fold-up tables they put half-time drinks on – flog them all so people believe it when you say you played Origin.”