Queensland captain Cameron Smith says a chat about his dad with Maroons original hooker John Lang has buoyed him ahead of the Origin opener.
A trip down memory lane was inevitable ahead of the 100th State of Origin game.
But Queensland skipper Cameron Smith had no idea the journey would be so personal.
The stage was set for eight-time reigning premiers Queensland to take a nostalgic look back before the milestone match, the 2014 series opener at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
Apart from notching the century mark since their famous 1980 win, the Maroons will retire the No.11 jersey on the night to honour their favourite son and inaugural Origin skipper, the late Arthur Beetson.
And hooker Smith would have been forgiven for thinking the hot topic would be Beetson when he accompanied the first man to don the Queensland Origin No.9 jersey – John Lang – at the official game one team announcement.
But he was left bemused when the conversation was dominated by Lang’s recollections of a man who made his mark in Brisbane Easts reserve grade – Smith’s dad and fellow hooker Wayne.
Smith’s father was largely relegated to the Easts seconds in the 1970s thanks to Lang.
In contrast, his 30-year-old son has played 30 games for Queensland and will become Origin’s most successful player with 20 wins if the Maroons triumph in the interstate series opener.
Yet Lang cheekily made it clear who he backed in the No.9 jumper as he walked Smith to the team announcement on the hallowed Suncorp Stadium turf.
“He was talking about my father,” Smith recalled.
“He (Lang) was just telling me I reminded him a lot of my dad.
“Although he said my dad had a yard more pace than I did.
“And then I said ‘how many State of Origins did he play?’.”
A smiling Smith then added: “No, I didn’t say that dad, I promise.
“It was a good chat. It was nice to talk to people who played alongside my dad.
“I didn’t get to see him play because he finished before I was born – we had a few laughs.”
But Smith is deadly serious about Queensland embracing their past before the milestone match.
“That is the one great thing that (coach) Mal (Meninga) brought into our side when he took over – that sense of history in the jersey and the team, keeping that tradition alive and knowing your responsibility to the Queensland jersey,” he said.
“It is about making sure that you went out you played the way blokes did before you 10, 20 years ago.”
However, Smith said the trick was to control their emotions before kick-off.
“I think it is important to use emotion but you have to control it as well – that’s what Mal is great at,” he said.
“He can build that sense of occasion and what it is all about but making sure your head is in the right space, to keep the emotions in check – that is the key.”