Greg Kellett was looking forward to a deserved well-earned rest over Easter after a hectic few days on and off the pitch.
As well as suiting up for one of the NSW Division 1 60s sides in this week's State of Origin, the Tamworth vets cricket stalwart also helped organised the tournament.
That wasn't without it's challenges. First floods threatened to wash it out, then the pandemic that had forced the tournament to be cancelled last year reared it's head again, with the coronavirus outbreak in Brisbane forcing a significant portion of the Queensland players to head home mid-carnival.
But for Kellett and the other 15 Tamworth players involved it was still a great experience.
It's not too often you get the opportunity to represent your state on your home turf.
Thirty-two teams and more than 350 players across the 50s, 60s and 70s took to the fields in Tamworth, Quirindi and Gunnedah as a long-standing rivalry was reignited.
NSW went on to retain the Cooper Finlay Cup thanks to an 11-1 trouncing of their Queensland rivals on Day 1.
But as sweet as it tasted to get the better of their northern cousins, it's the strong camaraderie between the players that really made it so enjoyable.
When an admittedly "bit stiff and tired" Kellett spoke with The Leader he had just finished playing a round of golf with a couple of Queenslanders that had stayed on.
"A little bit of sledging goes on on the field, but generally you're sledging your team-mates more than the opposition," he said.
"We call this the men's shield on the field."
Kellett was joined in the NSW blue by Phil Constable, Chris Paterson, Peter Mead and Steve Wilson (50s), Olly Taylor, Chriss Crowell, Bronte Reed, Andrew Stevenson, Steve Beaton and Tom Kellett (60s) and Peter Boyd, Ian Kitching, Col Barton and Terry Murphy (70s).
For Kellett, playing in the night game at No.1 Oval on the Monday was a highlight.
"It was awesome," he said.
That his Blues side won was the icing on the cake, the spinner playing a prominent role as they defended 145.
"Eric Higgins our captain, he spoke to us when we came off and he said 'that's the best win I've been involved in with NSW teams'," Kellett said.
No sooner had he come from the field though and he was alerted to the news about the Brisbane lockdown.
"I walked off the field, and the president from NSW said we need to speak," he said, admittedly thinking it was something more serious.
"He's bringing up all this stuff on his phone."
"Then there's phone calls going left right and centre."
After determining to reconvene on Tuesday morning and reassess things after it was clearer how many players were staying, they ended up making up a team of the Queenslanders still here and pitting them against one of the NSW Division 2 teams.
It was the first time Tamworth has hosted the tournament and Kellett commended the council ground staff for the work they did to get the wickets prepared. The Riverside fields were all virtually under water on Wednesday.
"They did wonders for us," he said.
"They worked and worked for us; as soon as they could get the tractor onto Riverside 7 and 9 they did."
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