FRIDAY night’s NSW Origin True Blue dinner held at the Merimbula RSL Club was a “cracker of a good time”.
Coinciding with the launch of the 2013 Group 16 season, the dinner was hosted by organiser and three-time Canterbury Bankstown premiership player Paul Langmack.
Guests included former Australian representative, Canberra Raider and current NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley, South Sydney great and TV personality Mario Fenech, and Eden’s own Peter Kelly, who won three premierships with the Bulldogs and was twice named man of the match.
Langmack proved the perfect emcee for the occasion, his wit generating plenty of laughter from those in attendance.
The target of Langmack’s jokes was often Fenech, who in turn was quick to retaliate with jibes of his own. It was the perfect double act.
Guests gained an insight to the game off the field as they listened to various stories, many of which featured one of the toughest men to ever lace a boot, Tommy Raudonikis, while Langmack continually reminded Fenech that he had never won a premiership.
Daley spoke of his ambition to end Queensland’s seven-year dominance of the State of Origin series.
Although giving no hints about team selection, Daley said Origin experience would weigh heavily on his decisions.
“Just because a player is performing well at club level, it doesn’t mean I will pick them for State of Origin,” he said.
“A player might think they are ready, but Origin is a different game all together.
“I thought I was ready for Origin when I was first picked, but I soon found out I wasn’t.
“The success of NSW will depend on players who are proven Origin campaigners. Experience will go a long to beating Queensland.”
The True Blue dinner was the first of four to be held throughout the NRL season.
Group 16 president Russell Fitzpatrick said the night was “terrific”.
He said for the Valley to host the first dinner was a real coup.
“It was great that Paul, Mario, Laurie and Peter took the time to travel to our neck of the woods and put on such a great night,” he said.
“I thank them for their efforts and for putting on what was really a great night for all those in attendance.”