Steve Renouf turns back the clock for the Legends of League match.
Steve Renouf turns back the clock for the Legends of League match. john mccutcheon

Legends of league relive former glory

PERCHED high in the grandstand, many of the former stars below looked not too dissimilar from their younger selves.

But much like the terrain observed from a mountain top, looks can be deceiving.

At ground level, the forms were not as flat as first thought - but, in many cases, rather lumpy.

Close up they looked less majestic and, in some cases, a tad too real.

But like in their halcyon days, people flocked to see them, politely requesting autographs and photos.

The mood among the players after the match was jovial.

The chance to relive glory days in front of an appreciative, knowledgeable crowd is no doubt like an elixir to an ageing warrior.

Sure, the agility of youth has been replaced by a middle-age gait, but no one cared.

Everyone who turned up to see them knows rugby league, unlike less physical pursuits like golf and lawn bowls, is not kind to those who try it at an advancing age.

But try they did - launching into tackles, running hard into gaps, slipping passes.

This was the scene played out at Stockland Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday night, when Queensland met NSW in a Legends of League match.

The match, which raised money for the Arthur Beetson Foundation, attracted former leading lights such as Steve Renouf, Robbie O'Davis, Bryan Niebling, Kerrod Walters, Nathan Blacklock, Matt Geyer, David Peachey, John Hopoate, Cliff Lyons, Les Davidson, Mark McGaw, Scott Hill and Greg Florimo.

Even 53-year-old Colin Scott, Queensland's fullback in the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980, played.

The final scoreline was irrelevant, but unsurprisingly the match ended in a draw (26-all).

The game was perhaps most memorable for two things: Renouf racing 40m to score Queensland's first try - a sight that stirred long-dormant memories, and Hopoate appearing to anally probe teammate McGaw with a finger - a sight that stirred long-dormant memories better left undisturbed.

Renouf, a former Broncos, Queensland and Australia great, played his first game since ending a two-year retirement to play for Brisbane club Easts in 2004.

The 42-year-old, who has a weekly game of touch football these days, still moves silkily in open space.

"These sort of nights sort you out, but it's a lot of fun, it's for a good cause, and it was really good to see everyone turn up," he said.

Walters, Renouf's former teammate for club, state and country, admitted to undergoing a reality check.

"I do enjoy it, but you realise you can't do it anymore," the 45-year-old said.

"But we're all at the same level, so it was a lot of fun.

"The most enjoyable part is probably now after the game when we get to reminisce about what we used to do."

Geyer, who played 262 games for Melbourne and three for NSW, keeps active nowadays by playing "old boys" Aussie Rules on the Gold Coast.

The 37-year-old developed a passion for the sport while playing for the Storm, but quickly added league was "still the greatest game of all".

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