Those sneaky Queenslanders think they can keep winning State of Origin with a load of old crocks and out-of-form footballers – and I should know because my wife of 27 years is one of them and reminds me this time every year.
Well … A-HA! No more shall she and her kind hold sway over naturally superior types born south of the border.
Little does my northern half know, but I have discovered from her the secret of the Maroons' success; why the Blues have won just one series – 2014 – in their past 11 attempts.
Here's a clue to what drives the banana benders: it's something that tastes like oil drained from an old tree mixed with root bark of another one. It looks like what comes out of the rear end of a cane toad and smells like Bob Katter's 10-gallon hat.
This is a potion I have banned in my household.
The Americans have all but abandoned it since the days of the Wild West when it drove gunslingers nuts.
This brew should be illegal in all Australian states and territories.
But it's not.
To those XXXX Queenslanders, it's the elixir of youth shoved up a new cure for piles.
In fact in days of yore it was sold as a patented medicine to induce sweating.
This evil concoction induces much more than the odd sweat bead for today's otherwise bored and under-achieving Queenslanders. It unlocks a statewide frenzy witnessed only at Origin time or when one of the northern state's own daughters returns home from an extended holiday in a Bali prison.
So great is this tonic that for hundreds of years bush blokes such as former Country Party leader and 40-day prime minister Arthur Fadden – a lad from Ingham up north where they once wanted to secede from Australia and everyone else shouted, "Please! Please!" – have imbibed and emerged stronger for it.
Noted Brisbane-based octogenarian Everald Compton wrote last year in his book The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes: Flynn of the Inland, how Fadden was showing the Victorian-born founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service a thing or two about Queensland.
"I want you to get my old mate here a bushman's soft drink," Fadden told the barman in Compton's imagined recount of the outback chatter. "We need to wash 40 years of sand and dust out of the system."
The Sydney-raised bartender replied, "What's a bushman's soft drink?"
"Australia consists of Sydney or the bush," Fadden shot back. "A bushman's soft drink is Double Sars – it's made by mixing a heavy dash of pure Sarsaparilla cordial with a Sarsaparilla soft drink."
That's it! Sars is Sarsaparilla and it powers my wife.
And Double Sars drives her rotten Queensland Maroons State of Origin team.
Apparently Bundaberg Sarsaparilla is still "made to a genuine family recipe with real sarsaparilla root, liquorice root, vanilla beans and molasses giving it that rich, unique colour and flavour".
Schweppes reckons Sarsaparilla is a "timeless favourite that packs a unique flavour" and it's "unlike anything else you'll drink".
Unlike anything, of course, except the sickly taste of success for Queensland at Origin time.
So a message to NSW coach Laurie Daley: get mixing with that Double Sars. In fact, make it a triple.
Such is life ...
Alan Stokes is a columnist and chief editorial writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, where he began in journalism compiling the weather and law lists in 1984. He has worked for major newspapers here and overseas as a Tokyo correspondent, day editor, night editor, features editor and chief sub-editor. He is the author of The Australian on Australia and has been awarded for his writing on human rights.
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