PLEASE GIVE US A SNAPSHOT OF YOURSELF AND BACKGROUND
I was born in Townsville as one of four kids. My Dad Walter (aka Wally) loved sports – he played AFL, rugby league and cricket. My mum came from a sporting family as well – she worked in a hospital and my Dad was a refrigeration mechanic before he became the warden of a juvenile justice centre.

I grew up with really strong parents and lived in Townsville until I was 18. I tried to play every sport – basketball, softball, cricket, rugby league and a bit of AFL. My sisters were into those sports as well as Netball.

That’s what you did in a really tightknit, small community (back then) compared to the other big cities. Sport was what everyone did on the weekend – it was how people networked and socialised through their kids. I was lucky to be a part of it, as I don’t think it happens anymore.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH APRICITY FINANCE AND BECOME AN AMBASSADOR?
Believe it or not, I was at a lunch and have a mutual friend with Linden named Peter who works in insurance. He called me and said to head over to table 15 and say hello even though Linden and I had never met, so I did.

I sat down and had a couple of beers with his table of guests before being invited to join the group for a drink afterwards. Linden and I enjoyed each others company and he told me a bit about what he did and I was interested. Down the track we caught up in Brisbane and he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it and I jumped at the opportunity. Not just because of Linden but also because of his team and the fact they’re really trying to help people.

YOU’RE A FIERCELY PROUD QUEENSLANDER – HOW DO YOU THINK THE SUNSHINE STATE WILL BOUNCE BACK FROM COVID-19?
I think everybody will bounce back to a certain extent. However, everyone’s world has been reset in terms of what is and isn’t important. I think the big buildings and people going to work won’t come back for a while and people will start to work from home 1-2 days as they realise they don’t need to go into the office and sit behind the desk.

I think the world has changed but if we’re all patient and we all help each other there’s no doubt we can get back to where we were.

I hope that everyone holidays at home with international borders not going to reopen for a while but I see that as a positive. Spend our money in Australia for the next six months, hopefully, that helps us get back on our feet quicker. I just hope that the companies that own and operate hotels, ski fields etc don’t put the prices out of reach for the families looking to getaway.

YOUR RUGBY LEAGUE CAREER CV IS LEGENDARY – WHAT WAS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT IN THE GAME?
Grand finals because to win one, it takes a long time and I was lucky enough to win three. I sit on a couch for Fox Sports next to Hindy (Nathan Hindmarsh), who was a wonderful player and won the Ken Stephen medal for on field achievements + off-field work and I reckon he would swap it for a grand final win.

It’s the team achievements that you like and respect the most because there has been so many great players who have played the game that haven’t won grand finals.

BEST PLAYER YOU EVER PLAYED WITH AND WHY?
I played with and against Brad Fittler, Laurie Daley, Bradley Clyde, Darren Lockyer, Andrew Johns and Mal Meninga but the best player I played with was Allan Langer simply because he was our captain and week after week, he was our best player.

I played with a lot of legends of the game and no matter what level we played at, Alfie was pretty much one of the best players on the field. In a star-studded side, there’s no doubt he was in the top three every time the Broncos ran on the field.

WHO IS THE TOUGHEST PLAYER YOU EVER FACED AND WHY?
Geoff Toovey because of the size of him. There wouldn’t be too many people in Geoff Toovey’s body that would do what he did, he’s a tough kid.
AS A PROUD ABORIGINAL MAN, DO YOU THINK THE GAME DOES ENOUGH TO SUPPORT THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY? WHAT ELSE DO YOU THINK THEY COULD DO?
Yes I think the game does a wonderful job – there’s a big game now (All Stars) that celebrates our culture.

From when I started to now, they do a fantastic job but it’s also got to come back to the individual clubs as well. They need to make sure everybody is equal and doing the right thing.

IN YOUR CURRENT ROLES WITH FOX SPORTS & TRIPLE M, YOU PROVIDE EXPERT RUGBY LEAGUE ANALYSIS AND VERY HONEST COMMENTARY – DO CURRENT PLAYERS EVER TAKE OFFENCE AND SEEK YOU OUT?
One – Matt Lodge but that was because of what I said about his off field antics. But the answer is no because I’m very conscious of not talking about someone’s ability, I talk about their effort. Their ability is what they’re born with but I can see the level of effort they’re putting in.

I never talk about players dropping the ball, kicking out or doing something else but I talk about them running hard, getting in front of someone to make tackles and doing all those little things that you bring to a game no matter how much you’re paid, no matter if you’re the best player in the team or the middle of the road. When I hit them between the eyes, normally they know it’s the truth because it’s not personal – I’m talking about effort.

ANY UP-AND-COMING NRL PLAYERS WE SHOULD KEEP OUR EYES ON FOR THE FUTURE?
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, the back-rower currently playing for the Melbourne Storm who has just signed for the Gold Coast Titans – everyone was throwing cash left, right and centre for him. He’s massive and has come through a great system at the Storm.

I think David Fifita has got everything and love watching a guy play the way he does. We’ve only really seen him for 20-30 games so he’s still a baby but I’d love to see him get super consistent like a Boyd Cordner and see what he can bring because he’s got so much ability.

WHAT TEAM DO YOU THINK WILL WIN THE 2020 NRL COMP AND WHY?

I thought the Raiders but right now I’d say the Roosters, I think they can do a three-peat. I do believe though the Raiders, Parramatta, Penrith and Manly will have something to say about it.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE NRL IN 3-5 YEARS? E.G. – ANOTHER TEAM IN BRISBANE? LESS IN SYDNEY? EXPANSION ELSEWHERE?
Peter V’Landys has done a great job getting our game back on the park and expansion is the buzzword. I think with the new television rights, they do want another team in Brisbane. I just hope that it’s carefully planned out – do we have the talent, well with no reserve grade, there’s so many kids not getting a run like they used to. But the key is also getting it right off the field – its sustainable with great pathways and you’re not eating into the Broncos or Titans as well. Tribalism works in Sydney, I’m not sure that would work up in Brisbane because we all want to get along and financially you don’t want to be fighting over corporates.

I’d love to see another team here personally because we’ve got this great stadium that only sees only one game a fortnight. It’s the best rugby league ground in the world and being able to double the amount of games would be great. I think the Magic Round showed there is plenty of support here in Brisbane.

ANY SUPERSTITIONS OR PECULIARITIES IN YOUR PREPARATION FOR GAMES THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
Yes and I still carry it today – I always put my left sock and left shoe on first. I noticed it when I played footy and it’s something that I’ve stuck too and I’ll never change it. Even with my sons, I do the same thing. If I put the right on by accident, I take it off and start again.
FAST FIVE
  1. FAVOURITE FOOD?
    Chinese.
  2. FAVOURITE ARTIST/BAND?
    Jack Johnson & U2
  3. WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING AT THE MOMENT?
    A lot of footy and The Last Dance before we kicked back off.
  4. DO YOU HAVE A SECRET TALENT?
    Not that I know of (laughing)
  5. YOU’VE WON LOTTO AND HEAD STRAIGHT TO THE AIRPORT, WHERE ARE YOU TRAVELLING?
    Whitsundays