Former Queensland captain Adrian Lam spoke to me in 2005 about his State of Origin career for Thirteen
Adrian, your selection for Queensland is still regarded a controversy. What were your opinions?
Yeah it was always thought of like that but it was never an issue to me. I grew up in Papua New Guinea until the age of six then moved to Australia. I played all my junior football there right through to under nineteens then onto senior football in Brisbane. When I was selected not too many people had a problem with it but Ray Warren always brings it up.
Tell us about 1995 when, with Super League players ruled out, Queensland weren’t expected to win a game.
I remember being at home when I was picked and I was nervous at first. I remember thinking “holy shit I’m gonna be playing State of Origin”. Then there was the first camp and the spirit was amazing. I don’t think we could have done it with any other coach than Paul Vautin. He was the right guy at the right time. The way he went about it was fantastic, getting us all together and concentrating more on the bonding and the team spirit than anything else.
Jason Smith was quoted as saying that as soon as he saw the other players in camp he knew Queensland would win. Did you think that too?
Yeah I was the same. I remember the hotel…the Travelogde in Brisbane. A whole floor is for the Origin team. In one room you get your kit, in the next you get your sponsors’ gear and in the next you get all your formal wear and in the next you get paid for the week. Then there was a meeting with Vautin and Chris Close who told us all about how Origin came about and how importanty it was to beat New South Wales. He had tears in his eyes and from then on I knew it would be something special.
What about the infamous game-two fight in 1995?
That was a funny story. It was down in Melbourne and the promotion was that it was a war! Tommy Raudonikis was interviewed and asked about the well known “Queenslander!” cry. Raudonikos said that whichever Maroons player shouted it would get knocked out!. Fatty found out about this and asked us all who would be shouting it. All the guys volunteered! Fatty told us if anything started that we should all get in so it was literally planned. It started in a scrum with Sedaris in the middle of it and after about two minutes of everyone going beserk the referee finally got control and I remember literally shaking with adrenaline!
What’s your favourite Origin moment? Is it the 1995 series or lifting the shield as captain in 1999?
Probably the first series. That was spectacular. I didn’t quite realise how big it was at first but I soon did. Queenslanders were handing in their tickets for the third game at Brisbane because they thought we would lose in Sydney and Melbourne and it would be all over. By the time we got to Brisbane we were two nil up and I’ve never been so confident about a game. I remember the big party on the Gold Coast when we won it. They were the best times.
What about your worst Origin moment?
The first game in 2000 in Sydney. I’d scored two tries and we were winning with ten minutes left but Harrigan missed those knock ons and the Blues went the length of the pitch. Tallis blew up with him and got sent off. I was with them saying “don’t send him off, he’s sorry, he’s sorry! He’s just frustrated with some of the decisions you’ve made.” But he said “no, he can’t talk to me like that. He’s off!”
Who are the best Origin players you played with and against?
Probably Jason Smith and Brad Fittler but it’s a really tough question to answer.