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I came across a '91 Queensland Origin jersey and I thought... 'you beauty... this is it'

You can take the boy out of Queensland, but never Queensland out of the boy.

Actor Ben Lawson, who hails from Brisbane but has not lived in Queensland for 21 years, donned a 1991 Queensland Maroons jersey during an episode of Netflix series Firefly Lane and has been hailed a legend by many for doing so. 

The 41-year-old, currently in Australia due to the COVID-19 situation in the United States, plays Australian character Johnny Ryan alongside Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl and Scrubs star Sarah Chalke. 

"The response from the Queensland jersey has just been insane," Lawson said.

"I was reading the script a couple of weeks ahead of time... it said I was sitting around in the house in my trackies and an old sweater... I was thinking 'what can I add to that to make it a bit more personal to the character?' It said Seattle and I thought, 'maybe I could suggest a Seattle Seahawks jersey?' and then I was like 'hang on... what am I talking about? The guy is Australian... this is an opportunity to get something Australian in here'."

Lawson said given the scene was set in 2003, he needed to find an "old knockaround, around-the-house" jersey that pre-dated 2003 and convince the wardrobe department it was a good idea.

"I got online - I was on eBay, I was on Amazon, I was looking at all this stuff, and I came across a '91 Queensland Origin jersey and I thought... 'you beauty... this is it'," Lawson said.

"No one knew what it meant... I said 'look, here is the deal... I want to wear this jersey. I've found where you can buy it, I'll send you the link... I've done all the work, you just have to buy it if it can get approved by the network, because it has branding all over it.

"I said 'look, it's time relevant... it fits in, it's perfect... my guy would've owned it for years'. She said 'yep, not a problem'. We got it the day before we had to shoot. I got it on set, it fit perfectly... I thought 'alright, terrific'. 

"There was maybe one other Aussie on set and she was like 'that's amazing'." 

Lawson, who now has 'Putting Origin Jerseys on Netflix since 2021' on his Instagram handle, said he was blown away by the response he had gotten since the episode aired last week. 

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A post shared by Ben Lawson (@bennyvegas)

"Obviously there's some Blues supporters... you know, they're a funny bunch, the Blues... I get everything from 'it's the wrong colour but I still love seeing the jersey' to 'I was enjoying the show until I saw that disgusting, ugly abomination'," Lawson said.

"I'm like 'whoa, relax'. We're all Australian, right? I love New South Wales, but I'm born in Queensland.

"Hopefully I won't be buying a beer in Queensland now. I love XXXX. I spent most of my year in LA, and I really miss the taste of XXXX. I grew up drinking it. Even when I lived in Sydney and Melbourne, you could still find one if you got a hankering for it. But, they're pretty hard to come by in LA, so whenever I get back, I go straight for a XXXX Bitter."

Lawson said what made the whole scenario even sweeter was the 1991 Origin series was the first year he remembered watching and truly appreciating Origin. 

"State of Origin was something we would always watch... that '91 game, curiously, is probably the first time I really remember being invested in it because it was such an amazing series," Lawson said.

"Queensland won it in the dying minutes of the third game. It was such an incredible game... Wally Lewis' final game for Origin.

"I was 11 years old... I remember talking about it the next day with the kids in the school yard and for the first time feeling like I got it, I cared about it. I felt mature sitting around talking about football. 

"It's uncanny that it's the jersey that was the one I got to wear on the show. 

"Origin is very big in Queensland. It means something to all Queenslanders on some level. There's a lot of pride, certainly state pride.

"For me, it's just home."

Lawson added he returned home in November from the United States and absolutely loved being in Brisbane for Game III, despite being holed up in hotel quarantine. 

"When I was doing my hotel quarantine in Brissie in November, a couple of days after I landed and I was locked in the hotel room, it was Game III of Origin," Lawson said.

"I was in Brissie only a couple of kilometres away from The Cauldron.... it was pretty special. I didn't have a window, I didn't have a balcony... I couldn't hear the crowd from my hotel room, but I was pretty close. It was pretty nice to fly back into Australia and then watch Queensland walk away with it. 

"For the 'worst team in Origin history' to walk away with the win... special. It was perfect."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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