Rugby league commentator Phil Gould has borrowed a page out of Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin's books, with a State of Origin pre-game moment that sent the internet into meltdown
Former New South Wales coach Gould's words were a precursor to the onslaught the Blues inflicted on Queensland in Townsville, after a record-breaking 50-6 win in Game I.
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Speaking as part of Channel Nine's coverage of the series opener in Townsville, Gould spoke of the courage of the combatants in the face of the unique pressures that Origin brings about.
Parts "spine-tingling" and "cringeworthy", Gould's lengthy soliloquy touched on a passage from Game of Thrones about what it means to be brave.
“I want to talk about bravery,” Gould said. “In these final moments in the dressing rooms these players are at their most nervous. The rookie players may have watched Origin on TV but it’s about to hit them in the face and there is no doubt they will start to have insecurities, do I deserve to be here, what will it really be like? Will I be good enough? It’s fear of the unknown that starts to grab them.
“For the players that have been here before, it’s fear of the known. They’ve already experienced what Origin mentality and physicality is like. They know they need to get back to this level every time and steel themselves. That’s not easy when you know how much it’s going to hurt.
“There was a passage I read in the Game of Thrones many years ago of a conversation between the father and his son. The son asked: ‘Is it possible for a man to still be considered brave when on the inside he is truly afraid?’ To which his father replied: ‘When you’re truly afraid, that is the only time a man can be brave’ and that’s what you will see tonight.
“Nerves, insecurity, fear, it will give way to courage and bravery. It will give way to the commitment you have to your teammates and your state. It will give way to the commitment you have to do whatever is necessary to win. Why? Because that’s what Origin players do.
“And above all else these boys want to be Origin players. Let’s cheer on these brave souls.”
As is often the case with Gould, his "over the top" pre-game moment divided league fans on social media.
Job not done yet for Blues
Almost as soon as Wednesday night's 50-6 drubbing of Queensland was over, Blues coach Brad Fittler was reminding them it'd mean little if they didn't back it up.
And he has every right to point that out.
In each of the last four years the Blues have had the biggest winning margin in any game of the series, but they have lifted the Shield twice.
Just last year they flogged the Maroons 34-10 in Game II in Sydney, but backed it up with a shock 20-14 loss in the decider at Suncorp.
Likewise, they only managed to sneak home with a James Tedesco buzzer beater in the 2019 decider after putting the cleaners through Queensland in Perth a few weeks earlier.
Which is why Fittler scoffed at the suggestion the scoreline meant his team couldn't lose the series from here, or that Wednesday's win was better than the previous record of 56-16 from 2000.
"This is Game I, I think that one was Game III so it's a big difference," Fittler said.
"We have had a convincing win every year.
"I'm quite aware winning a game by 50 here in the first game doesn't mean anything."
History is also against the Blues in Queensland.
They've lost their last four games at Suncorp Stadium, and haven't wrapped up a series win there since the 2005 decider.
"We haven't won (any game) at Suncorp for three years now," Fittler said.
"That's the challenge. This (Game I) is over now so the challenge is Suncorp. That's the goal ahead of us."
Fittler's message has struck a chord with players as they attempt to go against more than 15 years of pain at the ground.
"They (Queensland) are going to be hurting, they will be a different team game two," captain Tedesco said.
"Last year we lost Game I and came out firing Game II so I'm sure it will be similar.
"It's going to be at Suncorp as well which is always a tough task.
"It's going to be a challenge. I know it was a convincing win but, as Freddy said, we have to win two more."
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