FORMER NSW hooker Aaron Raper reckons his Blues side can get the better of the Queenslanders in tonight’s Legends of League game in Armidale, but there is one thing he is even more sure of.
Regardless of the result the game is certain to be entertaining.
Even last year’s game, won 38-28 by the Maroons, was a good spectacle for the big crowd and it was marred by weat weather.
“It was great last year,” Raper said.
“I remember there being a lot of dropped ball because it was so wet.
“That’s the excuse I will use anyway.”
He hopes it will be the Canetoads who struggle this time and the Blues will come out on top.
“We don’t like it when they win,” Raper said.
“But we’ve played in a few of these and we beat them more often.
“We’ll give them last year but I don’t think they’ll beat us again this year.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are that Queensland versus NSW rivalry still comes out.
“When you get out there it can get pretty tense.
“You don’t want to let your NSW team down.
“There’s still that feeling.”
The players might be a few years past NRL level but they don’t lose their instincts or their competitiveness.
Raper said both sides will “go hard” and provide some entertaining football.
“In rugby league at any level you can’t go in soft or you’ll get hurt,” Raper said.
“We still go hard, but maybe we’re a bit smarter about it in our older age.
“But entertainment is the main thing.
“We’ve got some good players who can really showcase their skills.”
Both sides have some legends from as far back as the ‘80s in the form of Les Davidson, Bruce Maguire and Cliff Lyons and Tony Currie, Colin Scott, Steve Jackson and Bryan Niebling.
But it’s often the younger players that have the biggest impact and the addition of Eric Grothe jnr and Rod Silva might add some speed to the Blues.
The Maroons still look strong though, with Robbie O’Davis the main addition.
Raper said the mix of older and younger players is great for the fans but even the players appreciate being able to play with legends from different eras.
“I suppose you could say I’m one of the younger ones and last year I played against someone like Kerry Boustead,”
“He was someone I watched on TV.
“He’s still got the same movements and the same swerve, it’s just a bit slower.
“I tackled him last year and that’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The players are at Armidale Plaza this morning from 10.30am and will then ride in the Autumn Festival parade from 12.30pm.
The first game at the ground will be at 1.30pm with seven games in total to be played.
They include the Walcha Roos versus Armidale reserves, a women’s game and the Rams v Tingha first grade game.
The main game is at 7-.30pm.