Wishart: We Share The Origin Experience
Wednesday 10 July 2013 11:00 AM
“We really share the experience pretty well; when you get into camp everyone makes each other feel comfortable and that makes a big difference.”
Former Illawarra Steelers and Dragons winger Rod Wishart should know a thing or two about State of Origin.
Wishart played in nine Origin series from 1990 to 1998 for New South Wales; scoring five tries and kicking 23 goals in the process.
The powerful winger was no stranger to winning, with six of the nine series ending in victory for NSW which left Wishart with a host of good memories.
“I’ve only got good memories of State of Origin, I was lucky enough to play in 22 Origin games and win 6 of the 9 series I was part of,” said Wishart.
One of those memories is of when he was first selected to the side as a promising 21-year-old goal kicking winger from the Illawarra Steelers.
“I got a call from [Illawarra Steelers President] Bob Millward telling me I was in the NSW side and that was a huge thrill for me.”
But for Wishart nothing compared to the thrill of playing in a State of Origin game.
“It was nowhere near the thrill you get when you run out in your first game in front of thousands of passionate footy fans.”
Even though he no longer plays for the Blues, Wishart still feels the same excitement at Origin time as he did when he stepped out onto the pitch.
“It’s just as exciting for me now as it ever was; I’d love to be pulling the boots on and having a go but State of Origin is still a very special event for me.”
Despite his on enthusiasm, the Gerringong junior feels that for some New South Wales supporters the excitement has gone from Origin with their recent struggles.
However, having stepped onto the field so many times for The Blues, Wishart is well placed to offer his advice to the current players.
“The last seven years haven’t been as exciting for us in New South Wales in terms of wins but we’re all hoping we can turn it around this year,” said Wishart.
“I know there are a few new guys for NSW right now and the nerves are definitely there but once you play a game or two of State of Origin the experience soaks in and you begin to play quality footy.
“The boys now just need to have the confidence to go out and do the job, not do anything silly and just try to make the best of our opportunities.”
Wishart himself was once in need of some advice, and it came from an unlikely place within the Origin camp.
“There were a few guys who kind of took me under their wing in my first few campaigns; Steve Roach was a guy I got along with really well,” he said.
“Usually wingers and front rowers don’t get along but we had a great forward pack back then and they all offered me lots of good advice.”
The winger believes it’s built into the New South Wales Origin culture to help each other out.
“We really share the experience well; when you get into camp everyone makes each other feel comfortable and that makes a big difference.”
With two footy mad sons Wishart hasn’t lost his passion for the game and still has State of Origin marked on the calendar every year.
“Having kids who are exactly the same as I was when I was young and getting pumped for Origin is really good; I haven’t changed a bit,” said Wishart.
“The day Origin comes on it’s almost like a public holiday; it’s great, it’s exciting and you just can’t wait for the kick off so for me it’s been very special.”