Former Queensland State of Origin great Allan Smith (sitting in the front row to the right of Arthur Beetson).
Former Queensland State of Origin great Allan Smith (sitting in the front row to the right of Arthur Beetson).

A cold beer with . . . famous Qld Origin player

ALLAN Smith played for Toowoomba before leaving for the North Sydney Bears and the Raiders.

Smith pulled on his first maroon jumper on for Queensland in 1976. It would be from the Bears that Smith would wear the most famous Queensland Origin jumper in 1980.

We sat down and talked about a career and life with FOG number 7.

Toowoomba and Ipswich have such a rich history. Any battles or trips to Ipswich that stand out for you?

I remember well trips to Ipswich to play for Toowoomba. Ray Kelly and Larry Brigginshaw were standouts. I spent 20 years working with Des Morris and played against Rod Morris too. Ipswich has produced so many tough hard men that were skilful too.

Of course, your first coach at the Jets, Greg Quinn was also a great footballer and Ipswich product.

It's 1979 and you score four tries for Queensland but are beaten 35-20. Is that the game that got you noticed by the Bears?

I think it probably caught the eye of the Bears.

Kerry Boustead playing for the Blues on the wing scored three tries in the NSW win. Seven tries scored by Queenslanders in an interstate game.

One year later, Boustead and I were teammates for Queensland. Boustead's three tries earned him man of the match too.

July 8, 1980, 40 years ago last week, the first Origin was played. What do you remember about that night?

I was always excited and confident. I just thought we needed the bit of class and confidence that the players coming back from Sydney would bring with them.

It was an unbelievable week in camp and Arthur (Beetson) of course. I do not think you can talk about that week without mentioning Arthur. We just had a great blend, some players from Sydney, older players like Arthur and Rod Reddy and then young players like Chris Close, Wally Lewis and Mal Meninga.

I was excited about playing with Arthur and Rod Reddy and they were just terrific in camp.

My role on the night was to add a bit of experience and get the ball out to the backs.

TOUGH TIMES: Rothman's Medal winner relives great era

FAVOURITE MEMORY: Believing you can be the best like past greats

SPECIAL PLAYER: Working with the King Wally Lewis

SHARP EYE: Looking for NRL players of the future

PROUD MOMENTS: Premiership success at Brothers

It took until 1988 for another person to wear the famous Queensland Origin number 6 for a long while it was a club of two with Wally and yourself. Where is your first Origin jumper?

I still have it. I keep all my jumpers I did an interview a few years ago and took it along and tried it on. Still fit nicely.

Did you consider offers from Brisbane?

I did receive a few offers to go to Brisbane. At the time, it did not make too much difference. I had a good job in Toowoomba and half the year I would be playing rep footy with Queensland, Queensland Country or Toowoomba in the AMCO Cup. Financially it was not too dissimilar whether I played in Toowoomba or Brisbane.

We both enjoyed living in North Sydney and Canberra and have great mates at both clubs still that I catch up with regularly.

You were a Queensland Origin selector for a golden run of success. Did you enjoy the role over the 20 years?

Loved it. Just being involved when your playing career has finished was very rewarding and we had some great results. Watching the Cockroaches sitting there in disbelief as we won another series was awesome. Made me very proud to be a Queenslander.

Does the life of a selector involve family and friends trying to 'help' you pick the team at a BBQ?

No. I think over time they realise some things are sacred and what happens in the selection room stayed in the selection room.