Queensland Rugby League boss John McDonald with Gene Miles. Picture: David Clark
Queensland Rugby League boss John McDonald with Gene Miles. Picture: David Clark

‘Big Q’ footy memories that last a lifetime


Michael Nunn

I NEVER went in the old dressing rooms at Lang Park but I imagine it was cramped, old and dusty.

The noise from the Frank Burke Stand vibrating through you as the dust from the roof falls down.

Queensland Police v New South Wales Police is probably nearly finished outside.

I can see Queensland's first Origin with coach John McDonald standing there in front of 15 Queenslanders. It was July 8, 1980, a cold night in Brisbane.

Tracksuit on, that big Q on the side.

History nearly made, feet shuffling, making that sound on concrete, last minute strapping. I can imagine Arthur, Smith and Reddy saying exactly how this is going down. Warriors who are back to play for Queensland.

Young players like Chris Close, Mal Meninga and Wally Lewis staring into space settling the nerves or at least trying to stay calm.

"I said that we had prepared well and tonight we just had to do our job." McDonald recalled.

"I don't think I said too much, it had all been said.

"We had a very good week and it had gone smoothly and Duncan Hall and Brian Davies had been tremendous."

"Everyone was excited and then I remember giving it over to Arthur.

"I was hopeful that it would become a yearly concept and its of course grown much beyond that."

When McDonald handed the team over to Arthur Beetson he had complete confidence.

"Arthur was a fantastic captain; he made those players feel safe."

Long before that night John McDonald was Queensland league royalty having played for Queensland nine times, and Australia 13 times as well as captaining Manly and vice-captain of Australia.

McDonald made his Bulimba Cup debut against Brisbane in 1964, his Bulimba Cup days would soon bring him to Ipswich.

"It was the premier competition in Queensland and it was the way you got picked for Queensland," McDonald remembered.

"You weren't getting a maroon jumper until you could prove yourself against Ipswich and Brisbane.

"Ipswich was a hard city and they always had a bit of thing about beating Brisbane and Toowoomba."


Wally Lewis
Wally Lewis

McDonald proved he could cut it playing Bulimba Cup and a Maroon jumper for Queensland followed in 1965.

Queensland were in the midst of dark days having gone 24 games in a row without a win.

Then in 1967 McDonald would score Queensland's only try and Peter Lobegeiger would kick four goals to give Queensland a 13-11 win at Lang Park.

"I was so happy to be playing for Queensland; beating the Blues is nice too. They pinched our players for so long."

McDonald would play the first of his 13 Tests that year in 1966 against England collaborating with Langlands in the centres.

It would be his second Test match that would show McDonald's attacking flair with two tries and six goals against New Zealand and a 35-22 win. A Test made famous by the sending off of Ipswich's Noel Kelly.

"I preferred the centres but sometimes I had to play wing and you're playing for Australia so that's alright."

"Some terrific players in those sides."

"Captaining Manly from the wing was a challenge but we swapped around a bit too."

McDonald would back his performance up again next Test match with two tries.

After three Test matches McDonald was sitting on four tries and eight goals. A haul that earnt him a trip to England with the 1967/68 Ashes squad.

McDonald would play his last Test for Australia in 1970 and return to Toowoomba at 27 years old after captaining Manly in the grand final loss to Souths.

Which would then lead to coaching and admiration of the Queensland Rugby League and NRL and a lifetime of dedication to rugby league.

Back to that night in July and that old dressing room.

"I still have my tracksuit, my son wore it not that long ago for a photo,'' he said.

Master of enhancing performance

DR Phil Jauncey is a performance psychologist. He has been sitting beside Queensland and Australia's best sportsmen and women helping them to understand themselves since 1994 and then getting the best out of them.

He has worked with Queensland's best - the Broncos, Lions, Origin and Bulls - bringing clarity to roles and performance and profiles to players.

"I enhance performance in sport,'' Dr Jauncey said.

"I meet with individuals and teams and help them understand the differences between themselves and those around them and why action is so important.

"I do a lot of profiling of teams, so that players can understand each other and the coaching staff know how to approach players and how they learn.

"Players can all be profiled as Mozzie, Enforcer, Thinker, and Feeler - personal differences and how they impact on our approaches to life and our interactions with others."


Sport psychologist Dr Phil Jauncey
Sport psychologist Dr Phil Jauncey

Dr Jauncey has even given thought to the Ipswich Jets.

"I have worked with Ben and Shane Walker and know they're a great team together because they are different. Ben is not structured while Shane Walker is structured.

"That's the best combination, the worst thing you can do is try and coach to a profile that doesn't fit you.

"The best coaching is what abilities do my players have and then coach to that."

Making a player learn in a style that does not suit them will not bring about positive results either.

"Some players need to just know the job, tell me what you want me to do. Shane Webcke was like this in his role.

"Someone like Ben Ikin needs to know why.


Darren Lockyer Picture: Gregg Porteous
Darren Lockyer Picture: Gregg Porteous

"Darren Lockyer was very structured, and needed to know the finer details.

"There is no bad profile. It's just knowing your team and then understanding your teammates.

Those teammates can then better understand each other off and on the field.

"A mozzie will understand that going near an enforcer before a game is a bad idea, they just need to buzz about with each other.

"When I worked with the Australian cricket team, Matt Hayden would sit quietly before he batted so you had to know that and understand that's his preparation.

"You can also tell then if Hayden isn't sitting quietly if he's chatting away then something isn't right here and I might be able to tell the coach you need to talk to Hayden."

The big question, can you tell at home on a Friday night if a team is not 'on' and going to have a good night.

"I certainly notice things, teams have these 'here we go again' moments, they fire themselves up and get ready and talk positively then someone drops a ball and everyone leans back and says here we go again.

"Watch for teams leaning back, the players leaning back are not confident, they're trying to escape danger."

Jauncey was determined to focus on what he does not believe in.

"I don't believe in motivation, attitude or positive thinking," Jauncey said.

"They are not observable; I can't see your attitude.

"We cannot control our thoughts and feelings but we can control our actions."

"I am interested in what you do; the fireman isn't thinking positively when he goes into a burning building. He is not happy but he is about to do his job and do it well.

If a team is struggling, Jauncey has some answers.

"It's not lack of skill, you're a professional elite athlete but what have you changed when you don't perform.

"Routine is important, if you get out in the 90's all the time, what do you do differently from the "nervous 80's.

"I had a Test batsmen explain to me I stop walking around and I stop holding the bat high.

"I just point out so for 80 runs you walked around and held the bat high, then changed it and didn't perform.

"What do you think you should do in the 90's?

"Walk around and hold the bat high."