The best experience
I went on my first Kangaroo tour in 1994. Back then, you listened to the radio and they’d announce it on there. We were up at Dave Gillespie’s having a barbie and they read the names out in alphabetical order and I thought, ‘oh my god, I’m going away.’
It was an amazing 10 weeks away – eight in the UK and two in France. You basically had two teams. The Kangaroos would play every Saturday and then the others would play the midweek games on the Wednesday.
It was all the young guys like Wendell Sailor, Tim Brasher, Mary McGregor and ET, the guys we’d hang with. It was just a great tour and a big focus every four years. It’s sad it’s lost and no longer part of the game these days.
On that tour my roommate was Brad Clyde. He was probably my favourite player as a teenager. I had the NSW jersey with Clyde and the No.13 on the back. I reckon I wore that three years earlier, going to a mate’s house to watch Origin, but I didn’t mention that to him.
It was amazing. I’m not sure he was as happy, having a little rookie with him.
The thing that struck you was the aura of those players. I got to play a couple of games with Mal Meninga, Freddie, Allan Langer – off the field great blokes who love to have a laugh but on the field each had such an aura.
With big Mal, he says ‘do this, do that’ and you say, ‘yes sir’.
They’re on your team but you’re going ‘wow’, just to be next to them.
When you go on one of these tours you’re not used to playing with those guys. To see how they act and control themselves was the best experience.