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Mason crossing into enemy territory

By Ben Horne 06/02/2010 12:18:43 AM Comments (0)

Few NSW players have boiled the blood of Queenslanders as much as Willie Mason.

Leading into Origin two at Suncorp Stadium in 2008, the outspoken backrower made his "nutbag, redneck Queenslanders" comment, yet two years on he's looking for a home in Townsville.

But Wally Lewis, the Queenslander typically most despised by Blues fans south of the border, said Mason should not be daunted by heading deep into Maroon territory.

Lewis believes "a change is as good as a holiday" and said a stint in the opposition trenches could inspire Mason back to his destructive best.

"That's the bonus for Willie, he's probably going to admit that to get back to his best he certainly needs to get a bit of an electric shock," Lewis told AAP.

"That'll come from needing to prove to his teammates that he's still got it.

"I think the biggest benefit is that change is as good as a holiday in some respects.

"He's going to be playing with a whole new group of players, he'll know he's got to prove himself to them and in particular the coach, Neil Henry who has been able to get the best out of plenty of footballers around the place."

Lewis himself tried to do the unthinkable at the end of the 1986 season and move to Sydney.

He'd signed with Manly before complications with the contract meant the deal fell through, much to his disappointment.

"The King" said North Queensland will accept the Test, Origin and Premiership star, despite his passion for the Blues, come winter.

He's adamant Mason's form will be more important to Cowboys supporters than his state of origin.

"I guess the North Queensland people are the only ones who can answer that correctly, but I'm sure Willie's not too concerned about that," he said.

"He's just all about playing football and I don't think there's going to be any real concern there along those lines.

"They're (the Cowboys) obviously out to get their money's worth. They've lost a couple of big forwards, so they're going to be looking for Willie to be able to help out with his size.

"I suppose time is going to be the only judge of that.

"He's played some fair football before and the best thing for him is to go somewhere where he knows he's going to have to play his best football to go ahead.

"Some blokes stay at a club and just go through the motions pretty much and I think Willie's probably his own worst critic in that regard.

"But now he knows he's got to give his best for a couple of reasons.

"To say thanks to the Cowboys for offering him the opportunity and to prove to his teammates that he's still got the energy inside and the ability and the desperation to play first grade football."

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