Blues assistant Greg Alexander was stunned when he was presented with his own special jersey in camp on Monday night.
As NSW legend Tommy Raudonikis made a special guest appearance at the team's Brisbane hotel and inspired the players, 'Brandy' was handed his original New Zealand Warriors jersey, which had been missing for years.
Surprise: Greg Alexander has been reunited with his long-lost jersey.
In a bizarre tale, the missing jersey passed through two sets of brothers-in-law. Paul Sironen, another great in camp with the Blues, revealed that firstly, Brandy's brother-in-law Adam passed on the jersey to one of his mates after a drunken night out in Penrith. Siro's mate then handed the jersey to his brother-in-law, who was a huge Warriors fan.
"But they split up, and the first thing my mate said to his sister was, 'I don't care what you do, but you get that jersey back','' Sironen told colleague Christian Nicolussi.
Alexander could not believe it when the 1995 jersey was presented to him. The first thing he did was take a photo and send it to his naughty brother-in-law.
"I haven't kept many jerseys, but that would have been one of them,'' Alexander said.
"I don't know how 'Ad' ended up with it. I think he used it as a bartering tool for a lift home after a drunken night.
"I was stunned."
The Warriors jerseys were so heavy and baggy, Alexander said the club ditched them for a lighter material after just two games as a few props melted in the March heat.
Pregnant pause: Young gun on standby for Cronk
The Roosters have pulled playmaker Sean O’Sullivan out of Wednesday night’s under-20s Origin clash to be on standby should expectant father Cooper Cronk be unavailable this weekend.
O’Sullivan was chosen as the Blues No.6 for the curtain-raiser against the Maroons, but could instead make an unexpected NRL debut. Cronk and wife Tara Rushton are expecting their first child at any moment and the veteran halfback wants to be at the birth.
Prior appointment: Cooper Cronk and Tara Rushton are expecting.
It’s appropriate that O’Sullivan is at the ready if Cronk is a late scratching. Cronk and O’Sullivan have spent plenty of time together at the home of O’Sullivan’s father, former Melbourne recruitment manager Peter O’Sullivan.
O’Sullivan’s Blues replacement, Brendan O’Hagan, is a good yarn also. The half lost his passion for the game, took a year off to play park footy and has come back so strongly that he has just earned a development contract with Canberra for next season.
Ta Ta for Tui
Tui Lolohea has signed a three-year deal with Leeds from next season. Lolohea has been struggling to make the Wests Tigers' top 17 on a consistent basis and the club has released him from the last year of his contract.
Daley still on Origin wavelength
Former NSW coach Laurie Daley is still doing his best to torment Queensland.
Daley and Terry Kennedy have been recording their brekkie program for Sky Sports Radio at the same hotel where the Maroons are staying.
Inspirational figures aplenty for the Blues
There have been plenty of inspirational figures around the Blues camp for the Suncorp campaign, but none more so than Mark Donaldson.
Popular: Andrew Fifita and Mark Donaldson, VC, at Blues training last year.
The former Australian soldier, awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery during an operation in Afghanistan, was the NSW team manager last year. While he no longer holds an official role with the NSWRL, coach Brad Fittler invited Donaldson into camp over the weekend. Donaldson is a popular figure with the players and staff and they appreciated him dropping in.
Blues backer taking an interest from afar
Spare a thought for Brydens Lawyers principal Lee Hagipantelis, the major sponsor of the Blues who is hoping to find a stream of NSW’s bid for Origin history somewhere in a Cyprus bar. Hagipantelis, whose law firm sponsor a number of NSW-based NRL clubs, is the first to admit his timing has been fortuitous in his first year as primary backer of the Blues as Brad Fittler’s side snapped Queensland’s Origin dynasty. But a pre-booked holiday to Europe means he’s done some reconnaissance to find somewhere to watch the series finale from Suncorp Stadium.
“For me to go to Melbourne and Sydney and stand there as the major sponsor to watch the Blues win, outside of the birth of my three children, may have been one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had,” he said.
“The Blues are the jewel in the crown. They’re the most exciting team to add to any portfolio and when the opportunity came, I jumped at it. There was a feeling of a new beginning. And it’s been beyond our expectations, both on and off the field.”
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