How the NSW Blues plotted the Queensland Maroons’ downfall … on a napkin


Buderus stated he was snug on the sidelines, so he was tasked with relaying Fittler’s messages to the gamers at floor degree. That left one final job to be allotted, so ‘Freddy’ turned to ‘Brandy’.

“I guess that leaves you with the interchange,” Fittler stated.

There was a lengthy pause.

Just a week beforehand, Alexander was chatting together with his former Penrith teammate Royce Simmons about all issues Origin when the matter of the interchange got here up.

“Brandy, have you got anybody involved at club level that does the game constantly?” requested Simmons, believing participant rotation was no job for a novice.

“Don’t worry,” Alexander advised him. “I think Bedsy is involved with Newcastle.”

It turned out that Buderus had no such involvement with Newcastle. That left Alexander. New to the teaching caper, he had by no means overseen the interchange earlier than. How onerous might it’s?

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“I’m sure I can handle it,” he advised Fittler.

The interchange rotation could be a lure for brand spanking new gamers. In his first Test in command of the Kiwis, towards arch rivals Australia, David Kidwell forgot all about his most damaging ahead. It was solely as the recreation slipped out of attain that he’d realised that he had forgotten all about Jason Taumalolo, sitting forlornly on the bench. It was one in every of the final occasions both of them represented New Zealand.

Blunders have occurred at Origin degree too. Aaron Raper was chosen solely as soon as to characterize NSW, in the 1997 collection, however spent the complete 80 minutes on the pine. It is a destiny additionally suffered by fellow Blue Graeme O’Grady in 1981 and Maroon Grant Rix in 1986.

To guarantee a comparable drama didn’t happen, Alexander started mapping out his Blueprint. Being old skool, he started jotting down all the permutations.

“I’m not a computer man,” Alexander stated.

“I nonetheless write notes, I didn’t assume it was that unusual that the interchange plan was written down. It’s simply that I didn’t have any entry to paper.

“So I wrote it down on a napkin.”

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A napkin?

“This was a cloth napkin,” Alexander continued.

“It was in the eating desk in our lodge, it was a massive napkin. It was greater than an A4 web page, so I had loads of room.

“It had minutes and variations on if this occurs, we go to that plan and totally different situations. I did have a late night time earlier than the recreation working on it. As quickly as we received again to the lodge after captain’s run, I sat in that eating room for a very long time.

“It did make me barely anxious.”

History will present that issues usually went to plan. Every Blue received on and off the subject as required in the opening encounter, courtesy of the sketches on the napkin. The recreation, and never lengthy after the collection, was gained.

“It pretty much worked,” Alexander stated.

“It was only game one with the napkin, by game three I was an old hand at it.”

Alexander has once more been tasked with the interchange for the opening recreation of the 2019 collection. There gained’t be a napkin in sight.

“There might be a bit more preparation in this one,” he stated.

Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

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