In today’s podcast episode we hear from Queensland Origin players, and fans, who turned out 5000 strong for the Maroon’s Fan Day on Tuesday.
Gennavieve Lyons spent the day with the Maroon’s team as they visited community organisations before heading to the Bundaberg Multiplex to greet their fans.
Gennavieve chats with Daly Cherry-Evans, Valentine Holmes and the one and only Johnathan Thurston, just to name a few.
Gennavieve Lyons 00:06
Hello and welcome to the Bundaberg Now podcast brought to you by the Bundaberg Regional Council. I'm your host Gennavieve Lyons and on today's episode we chat to several players from the Queensland Maroon's and, of course, their fans who turned out 5000 strong on Tuesday's Fan Day. I had the tough job of spending the day with the team as they made their way around to numerous community visits before heading to the Multiplex to greet their fans. Throughout the day I was lucky enough to chat to the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Valentine Holmes and the one and only Johnathan Thurston, just to name a few. So let's dive in. First cab off the rank was Eels hooker Reed Mahoney who this year makes his Origin debut. It's quite an exciting day I am a little bit starstruck with everyone that's around. You have just been announced in Origin's team. How do you feel?
Reed Mahoney 00:56
Yes, exciting and good phone call so yeah, really enjoying the first couple days with the boys and yeah, it's gonna be really enjoyable week.
Gennavieve Lyons 01:06
Amazing. So what does it look like moving forward? With obviously this being your first Origin?
Reed Mahoney 01:14
Yeah, I feel the pressure to get in this squad is sort of off my shoulders. But yeah, I'm just just trying to buy into the culture here and enjoy all the boys time and pick up what all the boys had to say. And then you know train well as well.
Gennavieve Lyons 01:33
I'm sure your family really proud?
Reed Mahoney 01:35
Yeah, they are definitely. I've actually got family not far from up here. They live in Chinchilla. Yeah, I just saw them at the airport, actually, which was good. So I haven't seen it them for a few years. And yes, yeah. moments like that seeing family proud of you.
Gennavieve Lyons 01:53
And how does it feel? Obviously you this being your first Origin but getting out with the fans like this? What does that feel like? And obviously you can get an idea of what's to come over the coming years.
Reed Mahoney 02:03
Yeah, it's I think, without the fans we don't have a game and then yeah, being able to give back to the fans have given us so much. Yes, this giving back to the community and say I really enjoyed the time.
Gennavieve Lyons 02:14
Awesome. Well, I'll let you get back to all of these fans. Enjoy the rest of your day. And best of luck with Origin. Next, I received a lesson from Joe Ofahengaue on exactly how we're supposed to pronounce his name. Okay, I am here with Joe Ofahengaue. Is that is that right? Is that close?
Joe Ofahengaue 02:33
That's not really on the money. Not quite right. All right. It's Ofahengaue.
Gennavieve Lyons 02:38
Okay, wonderful. That's definitely not how some of the commentators I've heard say it when they're yelling your name.
Joe Ofahengaue 02:43
Yeah, I never really used to care, you know, but um, my father's been bringing it up he's always saying that since I debuted he said, it's not a sign it's not disrespectful. But he's saying like, it's, it's kind of sad to him, because that's our last name. And in the Island culture. That's what you live for, you know?
Gennavieve Lyons 03:00
And no doubt he would want that said correctly because he would be so proud of you and your achievements.
Joe Ofahengaue 03:05
Yeah, he is. He's very proud, actually. And when I gave him the call that I got called back into the Queensland, so it was really really happy and I was really shocked.
Gennavieve Lyons 03:14
Oh, you were shocked about it? You weren't expecting?
Joe Ofahengaue 03:16
I'd moved clubs and had a pretty bad season. Last year, I didn't get the recall to come to Origin camp last year. I think I just went back and worked really hard on my game and fell in love with playing footy again. And you know, the hard work paid off this year. I'm back in the Queensland team but still got to do a job.
Gennavieve Lyons 03:36
And it will be full steam ahead after today. So I guess this is that calm before the storm where you get to meet some of your fans?
Joe Ofahengaue 03:43
These days is very important ones, you know, like whole camps fun, but um, I think community visits and all that are important for the state but also just just for for us to get to see what um, you know, the different cities can't really make it to the big cities and watch the game and get to see how much passion they have in the jersey and how much passion to have in our team.
Gennavieve Lyons 04:04
All right, well, I won't keep you have an amazing day meeting all of your fans. I know that at the fan day ahead of you there is lines out the door at the moment it will be an amazing day, and best of luck with Origin.
Joe Ofahengaue 04:15
Thank you very much.
Gennavieve Lyons 04:17
Arriving at the Multiplex players were greeted by a Welcome to Country performance before heading off to meet their fans. As we made our way through the sea of maroon I chatted to a few more players and of course their fans who were eagerly waiting to meet their heroes.
Gennavieve Lyons with fans 04:57
Right so who did we just meet Yeah, JT. You guys excited? Yeah. And Valentine's coming up! So exciting. You guys been waiting a while are you super pumped for today? Yeah. What did you guys do earlier? Oh, we were over at Bundy High doing some footy tips. And how was that fun? Yeah, it was fun. Excited who have we got literally signing things in front of you right now guys? So I've got Valentine Holmes here. You're signing some stuff at the moment for Kalkie State School. What's it like to be in Bundy?
Valentine Holmes 05:30
Yeah, it's awesome. You know, it's obviously pretty cool turnout, and I didn't even know that was as many people here so that's awesome to see. It's obviously rugby league and Queensland is a massive thing here in Bundy, so it's good that we got to come out to this this town and even see Tina Turner. It was pretty cool too.
Gennavieve Lyons 05:47
As we go along with the kids, I'm here with Daly Cherry-Evans. Welcome to Bundaberg. How's it feel to be, you know, have hundreds and actually thousands of screaming kids everywhere?
Daly Cherry-Evans 05:58
It's really cool. I mean, last year during Origin period, we obviously had the COVID rules to deal with and that was understandable. But it's great to have it back to its normal format. And we get to come out here and see all the passionate Queenslanders out here. It's amazing.
Gennavieve Lyons 06:13
And they sure are passionate. You can just hear the “D-C!”. I'll let you get back to the kids. Thanks for coming.
Daly Cherry-Evans 06:22
Thanks very much.
Gennavieve Lyons 06:25
One of the schools attending was St. Mary's Catholic Primary School. So as the kids checked out the food and entertainment I chatted to deputy principal David Boge.
David Boge 06:34
Well, we're at the Multiplex having a great time we brought 40 or so kids over and they've got a lot of autographs and photos. So I think it's a probably once in a lifetime opportunity for the boys. So yeah, it's been a really good morning, nice weather. So yeah it's a good turnout.
Gennavieve Lyons 06:48
And they were like, super excited. Are they little footy fans?
David Boge 06:50
Yeah, some of the boys is just like Christmas has come all at once. It's crazy. They are “Ohf I got Harry Grant's autograph or David Fifita”. They've got cards and they've got some photos, and they brought jerseys and some caps and things like that. So it's been a great day.
Gennavieve Lyons 07:04
And obviously we feel the children being so excited, but as fully functioning adults how’s the day?
David Boge 07:11
Oh it's pretty good. Actually, uh, my kids are a bit older. They're at high school, but a good lot of photos and a few memories. And of course, we'll put on our Facebook and in our newsletter. So I think the parents are really happy they could come along as well.
Gennavieve Lyons 07:22
So many kids now able to enjoy the other facilities?
David Boge 07:25
Yeah, some of the kids are going to get some food they haven't eaten all day. They've been so excited getting autographs and photos. So I've gone off for a bit of a feed and back to reality back to school for the last session. Good luck to the teachers. I think it's been a great day. Yeah, the weather's been good. And every every child he got an autograph or a photo. So I think everyone's going home happy and well down to the Queensland team for the turnout and they're spending a lot of time and showing a lot of patience with all the Bundaberg people.
Gennavieve Lyons 07:53
One of those players doing the rounds was legend of the game and now assistant coach, Johnathan Thurston, who I sat down with earlier that day. So I have been lucky enough to find the one and only Johnathan Thurston who joins us in Bundaberg. Johnathan, how are you?
Johnathan Thurston 08:08
Yeah, very well. Excited to be here in the Bundaberg with the community days with the Maroon's and yes, good to be back out here in Bundaberg.
Gennavieve Lyons 08:18
You were here a couple of years ago after the floods in 2013. Have you been back since then?
Johnathan Thurston 08:25
Yes, I have done some work with one of the biggest brands going around. Obviously a proud Bundaberg Rum ambassador and did some work for them. So yeah, come back and have a look around and things like that. But I've also got family here so I'll be nice to catch up with him a little bit later as well.
Gennavieve Lyons 08:49
Bundaberg seems to generate so many, I know you're not from here originally, but it's so nice to see Bundaberg have such strong ties to footy and especially Origin as well.
Johnathan Thurston 08:57
Yeah, it is. Like you mentioned we came here after floods I think we camped at the Show Grounds, I think it might have been so we're in tents there. So yeah, good memories of being in Bundaberg.
Gennavieve Lyons 09:12
Beautiful. What's it like to be here with a lot of the new up and coming players obviously they would just idolise you like how does it feel to be able to give back to the community as well with these new people coming up?
Johnathan Thurston 09:23
Yeah, that's what it's all about this passing on that knowledge to the next generation. So we got some really young players in the team. But yeah, they're starting to create their own path on the footy field and offer it as well. So just to be able to pass on that knowledge from my experiences playing at this level. And being an assistant coach and working alongside these players, you know, the best in their position. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Gennavieve Lyons 09:52
And I'm quite excited to see what the next few Wednesday's hold for us. And thank you so much for coming along. I know that the Bundaberg people I know when your head off to the Fan Day, shortly after we leave this community visit, I'm I can already picture the sea of maroon that is going to be there it's going to be it's going to be really special. And I know that Bundaberg residents really appreciate you guys all taking the time to come out here, especially with the pressure that everyone's about to be under as we enter into Origin. So thank you so much for your time, and we're excited to see Queensland take another victory this year very much.
Johnathan Thurston 10:24
Thanks for having me.
Gennavieve Lyons 10:25
And according to Asher and Michelle, the day did not disappoint.
Asher Bates 10:29
Oh we're seeing Johnathan Thurston and it's been the greatest day I've ever had to be honest. Because I got like a bunch of signatures and just this is probably my favourite day and everything's since gone so well today. I love this day.
Gennavieve Lyons 10:43
What's been going on?
Michelle Hall 10:44
Oh, signature signature signature! Chasing them all up and down the street there. It's been amazing. Amazing.
Gennavieve Lyons 10:52
So you've been excited for this for a little while?
Michelle Hall 10:54
Very much so.
Gennavieve Lyons 10:55
So you have a favourite player?
Michelle Hall 10:56
Probably Valentine Holmes was pretty, yeah, pretty impressed with Valentine. So yeah.
Gennavieve Lyons 11:02
That's amazing. So what were you hoping to get out of today?
Michelle Hall 11:07
Just to see the boys and you know, see them in person rather than see them on television sort of thing. So yeah, that was the main part of it. So yeah.
Gennavieve Lyons 11:14
So have you enjoyed it?
Michelle Hall 11:16
Amazing. They put on such a good show here today. Tina Turner was so good. And the girls dancing were really good too. Yeah.
Gennavieve Lyons 11:25
It was definitely a day to remember and we wish the team the best of luck in this year's Origin series. Now that's all for today. I hope you enjoyed this week's podcast. Join me again next week for more stories from across the region. Bye for now.