Origin stars get a Barrett welcome
FRANK Barrett didn’t have to come home to Queensland to be in friendly territory on State of Origin night – he just went to Victoria.
While playing under-18 footy for the Warwick Cowboys, Barrett was signed to play colt’s rugby league for the Newcastle Knights.
He has spent the past 18 years as a player and administrator in Newcastle and Sydney and is in his first year in Melbourne as general manager of communications for the Storm.
“Most Victorians are on the Queensland bandwagon during origin,” Barrett said.
“The people down here like the Maroons, perhaps it has a bit to do with the success.”
There was a Melbourne lining to the Maroons 16-12 victory as Storm pair Cameron Smith and Billy Slater were part of the slick movement for the winning Queensland try.
Player of the Match Smith set up the first try for halfback Johnathan Thurston.
Yesterday, Barrett was at the airport to meet the four Melbourne players as they returned from Queensland.
There were two reporters and Channel 9 in the greeting party as well as family and friends.
“Billy Slater’s daughter was really happy to see him when they met up in the car park,” Barrett said yesterday.
“At the airport, Billy told me he told debutant Dane Nielsen not to underestimate what he did in Origin.
“Dane was told that kids at school would be talking about him today.
“Cameron’s wife and children flew back from Brisbane with him.”
With AFL the major code in Melbourne, Barrett is happy in his communications role if rugby league makes it to the second or third back page of the metropolitan dailies.
Before going to Melbourne, Barrett was in awe of the ability of Storm and Queensland hooker Cameron Smith.
“I didn’t realise before I came here the enormity of what he brings to the place,” Barrett said.
“It is quite phenomenal the amount of work he gets through.”
Barrett spent his first Origin game in Melbourne at the home of Storm football manager Frank Ponissi.
“Frank dressed in Blues colours and I was in maroon,” Barrett said.
“The game was televised live down here, we don’t get Friday night footy (on free to air) till the next day.”
Barrett confirmed all four Melbourne players; Slater, Smith, Cooper Cronk and Nielsen were fit and well after Origin for the NRL match against Cronulla at AAMI Park on Sunday.
The game will be the 200th in the NRL for Smith who will join Mark Geyer in the 200-game club.