A cold beer with . . . Queensland Origin original
By Michael Nunn
WHEN the Lang Park ground announcer introduced number five for Queensland was Brad Backer and he became FOG number 6 it was a cold night in July 1980.
However, Backer was ready for the challenge of the Blues Bulldogs Chris Anderson and Greg Brentnall.
This Tiger would play for Easts and Wynnum, win two premierships with the Tigers and play eight games for Queensland and three Origins in a huge Brisbane career.
I sat in the shade of the Frank Burke Stand with Brad Backer and spoke about his career.
How did you end up at the Tigers?
I was from Maryborough. I was coming down to play for Country against City in 1977 and went for a meeting with the Tigers. I was a Valleys fan back then but when I went home, I announced I was going down next year to join the Tigers.
Which premiership is your favourite 1978 or 1983?
I think premierships are very special. You find different reasons they are special.
In 1978, I was just a kid. My first year out of Maryborough and I am playing with Des Morris and John Lang - two of my heroes in the BRL competition back then. It was 12 months earlier I would come down to Brisbane, sit on the outer and watch the grand final at Lang Park. To be playing in a Brisbane grand final was very special and then to win two.
In 1983, I was older and had played for Queensland. It was a much bigger part of the Tigers and the win.
They always throw up moments you remember. Valleys were winning in 1978 with not long to go, and then Greg Holben scored and Jeff McDonald converted and we won by four.
In 1983, I scored a try off some Wayne Lindenberg magic they are great memories. Lindy and his wife Lyndell stayed at our place the night before the grand final and while we were playing cards, without a word of a lie, he actually predicted the try I would score the next day. He said late in the second half when Redcliffe's forward will be tired, I would come the short side, stand one of them up and then go around them, so just make sure you are ready to come back inside. True story.
You left the Tigers and headed to Wynnum. Why did that move come about?
I just felt a bit under-appreciated at the Tigers and Wynnum had Colin Scott who I had played a lot with and Des Morris was coach over there so it just became a natural fit. I had a great year in 1984 at Wynnum and it was a terrific team to play in, I broke my leg just before the finals and did not get to play in that great grand final win.
Would the Wynnum 1984 side beat the Bulldogs 1984 side in a one-off game?
One-off for sure they would have gone very close, any more than one game and they might have struggled a bit, simply due to the fact of the difference between the Sydney competition and the Brisbane competition at that time. Sydney was virtually full-time and Brisbane was still part time so Wynnum probably would not have had the depth to compete with the Bulldogs over a full year. That Dogs side was terrific but any team with Wally, Miles, and Dowling would have given any Sydney side a run for their money on the day.
Trips to Ipswich for the Tigers and Seagulls weren't tame affairs?
I had several games there, first 1976 playing for Wide Bay against Ipswich. Ipswich were a pretty tough side to play against and the spectators the same.
I played there one night as part of Queensland County side coached by Jack Gibson as a trial game. Then when the State League started. I played there for Easts and Wynnum. They were fiery occasions.
One thing I do recall vividly was coming out of dressing sheds and running the gauntlet past the can bar.
The path onto the field was very conveniently located as such so the spectators could give it to the opposition while they were running on and off the field.
The first Origin you are on the wing. What are your memories of that first night?
The week was very relaxed. The thing I remember the most is Arthur was so confident in us: "There was no I am a big star back to save you." It was all very kind and he spent the week telling us you would not be here if you could not play. He just filled you with confidence. Then on the night, he just unleashed hell.
We were not in awe of Arthur and Rod Reddy but you were aware that playing with the two of them was a very big deal. They made us all feel very comfortable.
I remember thinking this was special, even if it only became a once off having our players play for us was exceptional.
Where is your game one Origin jumper now?
I have kept it. It is framed on the wall at home.
BRAD Backer played three Origin games, one try, 22 possessions, 81 run metres, one line break, 16 runs, one tackle break and 11 tackles.