Gary Smith was a Brothers premiership winner, who then became a Bear and FOG #53 in 1987, playing off the bench for Queensland in the heartbreaking State of Origin Game I loss to the Blues.
Smith would tour New Zealand with the Queensland side and even room with a young Alfie Langer, but always be a Brothers man.
Gary Smith Q&A
How did you end up at Brothers?
"I moved to the Sunshine Coast at 17 and played Queensland Country and A grade and then went down to Brothers in 1984. A mate of mine Tim Dwyer went to Brothers too and convinced me it was a great move and then he went to Sydney to play for Manly. I got a sense straight away that Brothers were special and moving in the right direction."
Tommy is coaching at Brothers when you arrive - how’d you find him?
"He was such a good coach; you’d do anything for him and he’d do anything for you. He brought out the best in you. I was only young, so I was in awe of him. If he told you something, then it was true. I remember against Redcliffe my first year we were down 30-12 and Glenn Haggath got sent off in the first minute. Tommy said at half time 'we will win this'. We are looking around thinking: 'What?'. We scored 28 points to six in the second half and won 40-36."
1986 and you lose to a hot Wynnum side in the Grand Final; what stands out playing against Wynnum?
"You had to play for 80 minutes against Wynnum. If you were good for 60, they would wait and wait and then in the last 15 minutes put on three tries and win. They had so much class. Essentially that’s what happened in 1986; we started well and felt good but in the end their class wins out. I knew we would win in 1987 after 1986. I just knew it."
1987 and Brothers play Redcliffe in the grand final - what was the change?
"It all started in the pre-season, we won the Woolies pre-season competition beating Norths and I got to captain the side with Trevor Bailey injured. That was Brothers' first trophy in 13 years. Then we got beaten by Redcliffe in the State League finals and then it was the season and we finished top and beat Norths and Redcliffe in the grand final. We could have won all three. We won the reserve grade too, so it was just an awesome year for Brothers. We don’t see each other very much, but I know hand on heart I could ring any Brothers player and they’d come help me."
You toured New Zealand with the Queensland team in 1987. Bennett said after this that blokes like Smith, Hohn, Carter and Mohr showed me they want to play for Queensland.
"It was one of my great joys to go on that tour and play those two games. I got the player of the tour and that’s something I am very proud of."
1987 also means a Queensland jumper in Game I. Where were you when Mark McGaw scored?
"I was on the field, I didn’t get called in until late. Bob Lindner was injured and I came onto the bench with Colin Scott."
Who was your roommate?
"Alf, both on debut and it was Alf and me together. We had already met on the New Zealand trip, so I knew him and we had played the Jets a few times."
Where is your jumper?
"I still have it, only worn it once. It’s packed away with the Brothers’ grand final jumper."
You move to the Bears. On your debut for the Bears, the North Sydney forward pack is French, Smith, Jones, Bella, Rea and Graham. Mark Graham ruined the all-Queenslander vibe.
"North Sydney was like a version of Queensland, it was such a great time. I loved being at the Bears. A huge part of the reason I went to the Bears was that there was so many Queenslanders. I was keen to go to the Broncos and be coached more by Bennett. The Broncos had a system where it was small sign on but massive win bonus and Norths made a good offer and had lots of Queenslanders so I shook on that and said I’d come and then the Broncos came to see me, but I said sorry, I already shook hands. But I certainly have no regrets."
You got to play with a Queensland great in Kerry Boustead at the Bears. What did Boustead contribute to your career?
"He was just so willing to share his knowledge. He was coming to the end but he had 10 years of Tests and Queensland, Manly and the Roosters to share and he was happy to do it."
What’s one thing you hear players talk about now that you wish you knew?
"I wish I knew that your mind can make your body do whatever it wants. If you’re positive, you can convince your body. I have run six marathons all over the world - New York twice, China, Paris - and it’s a challenge you can overcome."