Ricky Stuart wants the New South Wales team bus to drive through the valley of the shadow of death, otherwise known as Caxton St – but his plan to fire up his side before Origin I has been denied by Queensland Police.
In a sure sign that New South Wales fear nothing ahead of tonight’s showdown against Queensland, Stuart put in a request to cruise down the notorious strip to Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland authorities blocked the move because of safety fears, especially around the famous Caxton Hotel which houses hundreds of salivating and later dribbling Maroons fans on State of Origin night. “Previous years have shown that there has been an adversarial experience to the bus and that can put members of the public at risk,” a Queensland Police spokesperson said. “Based on this experience, the request was declined.”
Thousands of fans descend on the famous strip on Origin night and the NSW bus has not driven down Caxton St for a decade because Maroons fans wildly shake it or embrace their other favourite trick of throwing full XXXX cans at it. In recent campaigns, NSW players have looked like rabbits in the headlights.
Their awe of Queensland has almost been palpable. That Stuart wants to drive them down Caxton St is a sure sign of supreme confidence heading into the Origin opener. For Caxton St, on Origin night, is a zoo. In 2009, the Queensland team was granted permission to drive down Caxton St but the idea was scrapped after patrons lay in front of the bus. Stuart had the same request denied when he last coached NSW in 2005, and said at the time: “To me, it is one of the biggest parts of being in Origin.”
He refused to comment yesterday but the fact he was prepared to run the Caxton gauntlet again is a reason to believe for long-suffering Blues fans. It highlights the lack of fear and distinct belief in his current crop of players to arrest a five-series losing streak against the Maroons. NSWRL boss Geoff Carr said it was another indication that the coach was trying to revert to old methods to win back the Origin shield.
“Ricky is doing everything possible to get this Origin campaign back to the preparation he remembers and his era and it’s working a treat,” Carr said. “They stopped doing it about 10 years ago when I was manager of the side for safety reasons. The attitude of the Queensland police in the past is that it is too dangerous. “But the fact Ricky wanted to do it shows they are not afraid of this match.”
by Buford Balony