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Maroons enjoy pre-Origin risks in outback

Queensland's trip to outback town Longreach could easily have added to the Maroons' State of Origin injury crisis.
Maroons enjoy pre-Origin risks in outback
by AAP

By Ed Jackson

LONGREACH, Qld, June 10 AAP - Queensland's trip to outback town Longreach could easily have added to the Maroons' State of Origin injury crisis.

Eleven players from the squad headed to the drought-stricken community for a fans' day and forward Nate Myles and captain Cameron Smith both risked life and limb on the road.

Smith was the first to give coach Mal Meninga reason to sweat, climbing onto the back of a bull outside the airport despite reminders from Johnathan Thurston about Robbie Kearns' ill-fated horse ride during a NSW camp in 1999.

Then Myles decided he'd clamber onto the top of a vintage fire engine as it trundled down Longreach's main road.

Thankfully for Maroons fans, neither player came to grief. Instead, all they left behind was a life time of memories for hundreds of children from across Queensland's central west.

Local politician Vaughan Johnson said it was hard to appreciate just how much the visit by the Maroons meant to a community battling one of their worst droughts.

"It's not just rugby league supporters but it's people in general. We've done it hard here ... our people are great people; they always look for positives," Johnson told AAP.

"Mal's State of Origin side coming here has really ignited enthusiasm right throughout the central west, particularly for the children.

"It's invaluable and it's going to be a monument in their memories."

The trip also provided plenty for the players with local boy Matt Scott as proud as punch to be able to bring his teammates to the town he grew up in.

Scott has been trying for years to convince the Queensland Rugby League to take their annual fan day to Longreach and said it would be a boost for every player who boarded the plane.

"You come out and hear some of the stories, see how tough people are doing it and our problems seem pretty small," Scott told AAP.

"We see the support we get from regional places like Longreach and Ilfracombe and you can see how much rugby league means to them and sort of shows what we're playing for really."




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