In his heyday, but short on pay day
TIMES have certainly changed since a fresh-faced Wally Fullerton-Smith ran out in his first State of Origin at Lang Park in 1983 with the words of the great Arthur Beetson still ringing in his ears.
Beetson had banged on his hotel room door a few days before the game to tell him “You’re in (the side for Game I) and make sure you’re ready,” recalled Fullerton-Smith.
Speaking at the annual Carbine Club charity lunch in Brisbane, the former Redcliffe forward told of how excited he was to be playing alongside Maroons greats such as Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Gene Miles and Paul Vautin.
It turned out to be a controversial clash with NSW forward Les Boyd smashing young Queensland forward Darryl Brohman with a vicious elbow in an off-the-ball incident, and shattering his jaw.
Controversial referee Barry Gomersall, who was accused many times of favouring Queensland, issued a penalty and miraculously Boyd stayed in the field.
Boyd was given a 12-month suspension and Brohman did not play again that season.
The incident incited Queensland skipper Lewis and he scored two tries as the Maroons went on to a 24-12 victory.
Fullerton-Smith and his teammates celebrated well into the early hours of the morning before eventually crashing out in his hotel room.
He was woken by a call from team manager Dick “Tosser” Turner, who congratulated him on his winning debut.
“Great game Gator, you know you get a $180 winning bonus?,” he said down the phone. “But, you bought several tickets for your friends and a few drinks after the game and you, in fact, owe us (QRL) $240.”
His comment was met with deathly silence from Fullerton-Smith.
In those days the players got paid only if they won.
Players involved in tonight’s game will receive $30,000, win or lose.
Turner, voted Origin’s best-ever manager, never let his players down.
He picked up Fullerton-Smith’s bill as he did so many other expenses in those early years when the players received very little for playing Origin.