Billy returns home with his Origin memories

GERARD WALSH

BILLY Moore is forever grateful he played one game of rugby league at Father Ranger Oval. The 17-game State of Origin veteran returned home for Saturday night's Border Rugby League 10th anniversary. Growing up at Wallangarra, 100m on the Queensland side of the border, playing junior rugby league for Tenterfield and joining North Sydney three days after finishing school, there was always going to be a debate about which State he was going to play for. Moore first played for NSW in under-17 rugby league in 1988, the night Wally Lewis and Mark Geyer exchanged blows at Lang Park which resulted in beer cans being thrown on to the field. He debuted in first-grade at 17 for North Sydney. Origin eligibility is based on where a footballer played his first senior game and it would have been NSW except for his U18 game at Father Ranger Oval as a 16-year-old and some smart research by Stanthorpe Gremlins official Greg Thouard who chased up the registration from that Warwick day. "My brother Robert was working in the railways at Inglewood and I went to watch him play for Millmerran/Institute against the Warwick Cowboys," Moore said. "He asked me to sit on the bench and after a few minutes, ran off and said here are my boots. "I don't know if we won or lost." That one game gave Moore his Queensland eligibility, the State where he wanted to play. While the Queenslander chant did not originate with Moore, he was the player who yelled it as the television camera rolled on his way out of the tunnel in the 1995 Origin series. The Maroons won that series 3-0 with nine debutants against unbackable favourites NSW, his Origin highlight.



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