Nambour junior Ben Ross in training with the Queensland Maroons.
Nambour junior Ben Ross in training with the Queensland Maroons. TONY PHILLIPS

'Tears streaming down his face': Ben's best Origin memory

THE loudest cheers on the Sunshine Coast for the Queensland side in tonight's State of Origin opener will no doubt come from some of the Maroons' greatest.

More than 162 games worth of Queensland legends spanning 38 years of history now call the Sunshine Coast home.

Nambour junior Ben Ross summed up what playing for his state means in one memory.

As high an honour as it was, that memory wasn't playing with the likes of Darren Lockyer or Cam Smith.

It wasn't even the sheer ecstasy of being on-field for Matty Bowen's intercept try in 2005.

Instead, the memory relates to game three, 2005, when the series was on the line.

His good mate and Coast resident Danny Nutley was a late bloomer when called into the Maroons camp.

"I got to run out behind my good mate in his first and only game," the six-time Maroon recalled.

"Nuts was about 30 at the time and had played 200 plus NRL games to get there. He'd overpaid his dues.

"He turned around and looked at me when he ran out and tears were streaming down his face. I just knew he was going to give it everything he had."

 

 

Danny Nutley won his first and only Queensland jumper after years of toil for many a club.
Danny Nutley won his first and only Queensland jumper after years of toil for many a club. ROBB COX

While it ended on a sour note for the home side - after an Andrew Johns-inspired Blues side won comprehensively 32-10 - Ross has that lasting memory.

Both men never featured for their state again.

Like most young boys growing up, Ross lived and breathed the game. He'd watch it in the living room with his father David, never missing a match.

The memory of the day he found out he was making his debut still gives him "tingles".

"The newspapers said I was half a chance, but then Queensland selector Des Morris rang me, asked me how I was going," Ross said.

"Then he said 'Call your dad, tell him you're in'.

"Dad was pretty pumped. He pushed me towards a rugby league career, gave me that hope and drive. I never thought I'd get to play for a living.

"He actually took me to my first ever game. I got to meet Arthur Beetson which was a dream come true."

Despite the Maroons being decimated by injury and retirement - potentially missing more than 200 games of experience - Ross said Origin was different.

"I think it will be close and it will be a hard one but I think we can do it," he said.

"I was talking to Paul Gallen (former Blues skipper) who also thinks it will be very close.

"I have some question marks over some of the younger Blues, whether they're physically ready for it."



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