Still true to the Blue
By ADRIAN MILLER
FOR two proud New South Welshman such as Roderick McFarlane and Brett Spears, having to play for Queensland was a bit out of the ordinary.
But after they were selected for the Australian Universities rugby league team, they agree that donning the maroon was worth it.
The pair, who play for Marist Brothers in the Retravision Northern League, will head to the UK next month for a seven-match, five-week tour featuring games against Great Britain, Wales and a Combined Armed Forces side.
Because they go to Southern Cross University in Lismore ? Spears is studying to become a PE teacher while McFarlane does Indigenous studies ? they had to represent Queensland to make the Aussie side, a quirk Spears said they would not quickly live down.
"Rod and I are both from NSW so we copped a pasting from our Queensland team mates before the State game," he said. "But we still cheer for NSW."
This is Spears' third Australian selection, while it's the first for McFarlane after four attempts.
"I was a bit surprised to get picked, actually," McFarlane said.
"I've played for Queensland for four years without getting picked and I didn't think I played as well this year as I had in the past, so maybe I'm just a sympathy selection!"
Even if that's the case, McFarlane, 22, who expects be used as a utility player covering lock, centre and fullback, can't wait to play overseas ? although he has some reservations.
"I'm looking forward to smashing the Poms," he said.
"The game against the Combined Services looks like it will be the toughest game so hopefully I'll be left out of the side for that one."
Spears, 25, said while their team-mates think the pair will be in for an easy time in the UK, he knows the games will be a challenge.
"All the Brothers boys bag us out because they reckon it's a bit of a joke, but it'll be pretty hard and fast," he said.
"If the games overseas are anything like the State game it'll be a fairly hard hit-out."
But it's taken more than just talent for the pair to make the trip and they said they were thankful to all the people who had helped them raise the $5000 they would each need for the tour.
"Matt King, Jordan Atkins from the Titans and Mary Gilhooleys donated signed jerseys for us, while Greg Clark Building, Lismore Nissan, Aussie Digger, Jay Elle Lactation, Laser Plumbing, Scott Elliott's Bexhill Butchers, the SCU Vice-Chancellor and Neil Pollard also helped out," Spears said.