In the final year of Queensland’s eight-straight State of Origin run, it became common practice to remind NSW fans that 8-year-old children born south of the Tweed didn’t know what it felt like to win an Origin series.
While the streak is only half as long, Queensland Reds fans can empathise with those NSW fans.
New Reds skipper Samu Kerevi knows that feeling all too well, as he is yet to play in a Queensland team that has drank from the Templeton Cup since bursting onto the Super Rugby scene in 2014.
“Watching the State of Origin, watching guys like Karmichael, Izzy (Folau), playing for QLD against NSW, I wanted them (NSW) to lose,” Kerevi said.“That eight year drought – that was something I was really happy about.
“To see them dominate for eight years was something special.
“They have been dominating State of Origin for 10 years and we want to build that kind of mentality here in union.
“It’s been missing because we play a lot of games with the Conference system so for us being able to play that one game makes it that much more important.“
The QLD-NSW clash has served as a barometer for the two teams since the advent of the Super 12.
The Reds won the first nine meetings between the two states from 1996 to 2004 and finished higher on the Super Rugby ladder on all but three occasions in that period.The Tahs then peeled off a streak of seven straight wins of their own before the Reds regained ascendency in winning their second meeting in 2011 – their title winning year.
Five straight wins ensued in the latest golden era for the Reds but that has fallen away since 2014, with the Tahs winning the last six meetings as they enjoyed their most successful run and won a title to boot.
Tomorrow night’s clash looks to be similarly season defining.
Win and stay in touch with the Brumbies.
Lose and the top of the Australian Conference looks a bridge too far.
“Throughout the week Stilesy has been posting up scores of past games or games that have really changed their season to build up the rivalry even more,” Kerevi said.
“Understanding what QLD teams went through in the past and not getting a go, that’s what he wanted us to understand and this year is no different.“Results haven’t gone our way this year – both QLD and NSW – so this game is even more important for us.
“The rivalry is important because we are Queenslanders.
“We’ve always hated NSW.”
Kerevi has been a spiritual leader for the Reds since making a starting job his own but he has now been tasked with officially leading the Reds for the remainder of 2017 in James Slipper’s absence.
The Fijian-born star is softly spoken off-field but during training and games, he is, along with Quade Cooper, the mouthpiece of the team.
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There is no better man to lead the Reds into the future and it is an honour that does not escape Kerevi.
“For me, leading QLD is something that is a massive blessing and a massive opportunity.
“I can’t take it lightly.
“I’m still doing the same things I do every day, I prepare the same way but I’ve just got the “C” next to my name.”
The Reds host the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on radio at RUGBY.com.au.