In the lead up to the 2019 Intrust Super Cup grand final, Queensland Rugby League are taking a trip down memory lane and reliving several cracking deciders. The third in our series is the 2008 grand final which was won by Souths Logan after a magic Alby Talipeau play on the cusp of full-time.
Souths Logan halfback Alby Talipeau had words of wisdom from his former Roosters coach Ricky Stuart and captain Brad Fittler ringing in his ears when he came up with a brilliant last minute play to win the 2008 grand final.
The scores were locked up at 18-18 against the Ipswich Jets at North Ipswich Reserve and extra time beckoned.
Souths Logan coach Paul Bramley had told Talipeau to play what was in front of him but the Magpies playmaker didn’t need any reminding. He had Stuart and Fittler’s ethos ingrained in him since his Roosters days.
With 45 seconds left on the clock and the Magpies inside the Jets' quarter on the final play, Talipeau deceived the Ipswich defence by running to the right and throwing an inch perfect pass for a flying Kyle Lodge to score.
"When I was at the Roosters it was Freddy Fittler and our coach Ricky Stuart who were always big on making our last tackle options count," Talipeau recalled.
"They always said 'you’ve got to your last plays right' because as a halfback it is all on you, whether it be a kick or running the ball when a try was on.
"Freddy and Ricky said that the last tackle option will dictate and define what happens next. If it is on to run it, then you have to back your instincts and you have to get it right.
"I’d had my time in the NRL and that philosophy of Ricky’s was instilled in my game. In that 2008 grand final both teams were going for intercepts. Josh Lewis had been going for them for the Jets so when I got into good field position I didn’t think about going for the field goal. I got into dummy-half, saw we had an overlap and went for it. I didn’t over-think it. I backed myself. Kyle Lodge ran a good line and was strong enough to score."
That try, to secure a 24-18 win for the Magpies, broke the Kevin Walters-coached Jets’ hearts after a courageous comeback by Ipswich.
A crafty Talipeau face ball early put Cy Lasscock over and Mckanah Gibson burrowed over from dummy half to make it 10-10 before a controversial 'no try' ruling counted against Jets forward Kurtis Lingwoodock. Matt Templeman intercepted an Ian Lacey pass and the Magpies took a stunning 18-18 lead into the break.
The Jets came storming back in the second stanza after words of wisdom from coach Walters. Michael Ryan scored from dummy-half, Donald Malone collected a deflected Lacey kick and then a rampaging Aaron Sweeney scored under the sticks to make it 18-18 before Talipeau put the nail in the Jets' coffin with the final play of the game.
Talipeau had one ritual he religiously observed in his rugby league career, apart from his NRL debut, and that was to always wear Adidas boots. He had them on his feet that day against the Jets too.
That ritual relates back to Fittler and the aftermath of Talipeau’s first game for the Roosters in 2000 when he took the field against the Dragons in a pair of $2 Puma Kings he’d bought at a bargain basement shop after discovering his own boots had a split down the side.
The Roosters won but when Fittler, sponsored by Adidas, noted the cumbersome boots Talipeau had worn, he gave him several pairs of boots in his size to wear in future.
"To this day I still wear Adidas boots after Freddy gave me a couple of pairs the next day at training after my debut," Talipeau grinned.
With his lucky boots on the Samoan international also collected the Duncan Hall Medal for best on ground against the Jets.
Rugby League Week magazine spoke to Talipeau after the 2008 decider and he did a lot of pointing to the heavens and thanked the Lord for his guidance.
Talipeau is good mates with former Roosters prop and pastor Charles Tonga, who had turned his life around with some help from above.
"I needed a different direction in life at the time. I was good mates with Charlie Tonga and he got me into church," Talipeau chuckled.
"That is why I had devoted myself to God. With Charlie’s history he was trying to implant something in my life that was missing. I still believe, but I just don’t practise it."
While it is 11 years since Talipeau's heroics at North Ipswich Reserve, the 38-year-old still reflects fondly on his days at Souths Logan. He won Ipswich Rugby League titles with the Goodna Eagles in 2016 and 2017 as a player and then an assistant coach.
Now he helps out his good mate Laurie Campbell who coaches at Redbank Plains where Talipeau also points promising players in the Magpies' direction.
"I know every club has their volunteers and great club men and women but playing for Souths was a great experience. We weren’t the highest paid but the club spirit was high and we played for each other," Talipeau said.
"That was from the CEO down to the Colts players. In 2008 I knew all the Colts players coming through, which I never experienced before at any other club.
"It was a family environment. Just three weeks ago I rang CEO Jimmy McClelland trying to get some players with potential to do some pre-season training at the Magpies. That is because I know that the good environment at Souths Logan will benefit the players I have recommended."