Fatty reveals how ‘Queenslander’ war-cry was born

The first episode of Wide World of Sports’ Stories of Origin podcast will be released on Friday May 13. This story is taken from episode one, The Birth of Origin. Subscribe to Stories of Origin on Spotify, Apple, Google.

It’s a call made famous by Billy Moore during the 1995 State of Origin series, and now Maroons legend Paul Vautin has revealed the full story behind the the birth of the ‘Queenslander’ war-cry eight years earlier.

Moore was captured yelling by Nine’s cameras as the players returned from half-time at the Sydney Football Stadium in game one, 1995, yelling ‘Queenslander’ to fire up his teammates.

It was a match the Maroons would win by the remarkable scoreline of 2-0, at a time when the game had been rocked by the Super League war.

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But the ‘Queenslander’ call can be traced back to 1987, in a series that was locked at one-all heading to a decider at Lang Park.

Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ new podcast, Stories of Origin, Vautin revealed he was responsible for the call.

“It’s 1987 and we’ve got back to 1-all,” he recalled.

“We had a meeting and Wayne Bennett said, ‘We need something, we need a call to arms, let’s put our thinking caps on and come up with something.’

“So Greg Dowling yells out, ‘What about oranges?’ and Gilly (Trevor Gillmeister) goes, ‘What about peaches?’

“And Alf (Allan Langer) goes, ‘What about cumquats?’

According to Vautin, Langer’s suggesting was met with disdain by Bennett.

“Bennett goes, ‘We’re not yelling out f—ing cumquats on our tryline’,” he chuckled.

“I’m sitting next to Alf and I thought, we’re Queenslanders, what about Queenslander? And Bennett said, ‘That’s it, that’s our call to arms.’

“That’s how it came about. Three fruits that got put aside, to become Queenslander.

“It worked for us, and it worked again in 1995.”

Queensland’s captain in that series, Wally Lewis, said the single word meant so much to the Maroons.

“It only took one word to instantly inspire them, that chant, every time, and you knew you weren’t just playing on behalf of the 12 other guys on the field with you, and the reserves on the bench, and the coach and manager,” he said.

“You were playing for the entire state, for all the people who had been so loyal to you.

“If we got beaten they’d be disappointed, but they wouldn’t turn on you, they wouldn’t throw us in the can. That’s what made us feel so comfortable.”

Vautin also revealed how that 1987 series almost saw the premature end of Wayne Bennett’s Origin coaching career, with legendary Queensland manager Dick ‘Tosser’ Turner delegated to deliver the bad news.

“When Wayne Bennett took over in 1986, Queensland lost 3-0,” Vautin said.

“We lost the first game at Lang Park in 1987 … we go to Sydney (for game two) and Tosser grabbed Wayne Bennett and said ‘We’re going for a walk’.

“They’d been going 400 meters and Tosser said: ‘Wayne, this is a fact, if we lose tonight, you’ll never coach Origin again.’

“That’s a big call. He was the man who had to tell Wayne that.”

Queensland went on to win that series 2-1, while Bennett would end up coaching the Maroons in 24 Origin matches, most recently in 2020.

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