Maroons showing spirit of 2001: Langer - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maroons showing spirit of 2001: Langer

By Laine Clark 19/05/2006 07:17:06 PM Comments (0)

The spirit of 2001 is back for the Queensland Origin rugby league team.

That was the verdict from a man who should know - Maroons talisman Allan Langer.

Five years ago Langer was secretly lured back from England to clinch the Origin series decider for a young Maroons side.

Since then it has been slim pickings indeed for the Queensland faithful.

Three straight series losses by Queensland prompted 2005 NSW coach Ricky Stuart to claim what was once unthinkable - the Blues now owned the Origin spirit.

New Queensland coach Mal Meninga reacted by picking a team for Wednesday's 2006 series opener with seven rookies - the most since 2001.

But Langer reckons that is not the only similarity with the 2001 team.

Langer believes the new batch of Maroons were brimming with the fun spirit that fuelled their 2001 heroics.

And it took an approach borrowed from former NSW mentor Stuart to do it.

Taking a leaf out of Stuart's book, Meninga brought Origin greats into camp - in this case his old mates Langer, Wally Lewis, Paul Vautin, Trevor Gillmeister, Gene Miles and Gary Belcher - in a bid to stoke the legendary Maroons passion.

A few yarns and plenty of beers at their Coolum camp later, Langer has given Meninga's relaxed approach the thumbs up as Queensland attempts to avoid being the first team to lose four straight Origin series.

"Mal played with a lot of spirit in his day, built it on mateship and good times - that's why he has formed the guys around him here," Langer said.

"The camp was all about having a beer and having a good time, mixing and mingling - it's not that hard to do.

"I think the camp has been great for the team, especially for the seven debutants who are young but still picked on form - it wasn't as though they weren't expected to be picked."

Asked if he agreed with Stuart's claim that NSW owned the Origin spirit, Langer said: "Anyone can say that when they win, mate."

Despite his relaxed approach, Meninga did not have to be reminded how important it was to claim a Queensland series win on Origin coaching debut.

"The players realise we need a successful Queensland side every year to keep the Origin concept alive," he said.

"That's our charter, our responsibility. We are pretty keen on making that happen.

"We get on pretty well and they like a beer. It's just good to be involved in Origin again after such a big absence

"To come back and talking to them about what they think of Origin, you can see they have not lost any of the passion for it."

Speaking at an Origin lunch at Brisbane on Friday, Meninga vowed to "crank" up his side's preparation after their low key start.

Asked to sum up the Coolum camp, a dead pan Meninga said: "Well, we had a drink on Monday. On Tuesday we had a rest.

"We are not really talking about footy at the moment, just getting together and having a good time.

"This is the last of our official commitments. We will crank things up over the weekend."

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