When Eddie Ward said 'pack the scrum' and the bright sunny sky above Lang Park would rumble and turn black as the two packs came together, standing front and centre was Brothers No.12 Jay Hoffman.
This Blue turned Maroon came from Casino and ended up on the Gold Coast, then Brothers, and a foundation Raider.
Jay Hoffman Q&A
Why did you come to Brisbane?
"I was born in Casino, but dad got a job as a journalist at The Telegraph in Brisbane, so we moved to the Gold Coast. I played Queensland schoolboys and lived on the Gold Coast playing for the Southport Tigers until 1980 when I went to Brothers in Brisbane. I was always keen to go to Brisbane and the Gold Coast competition was so good then with a lot of Brisbane players like David Wright and Ian Dauth. I felt like I was well prepared. I was ready to take that next step, I had a few offers but chose Brothers."
Lang, Conescu, Johnstone, Prickett - it was a golden period for hookers. Which game did you circle in the draw?
"Great hookers there, they all brought different things. Greg Conescu was young but a great hooker and crafty. Billy Johnstone wasn’t to be messed with at all and everyone knew that, and the Souths and Brothers games had extra because of Wayne Bennett leaving Souths for Brothers. Lang was the best for a long while and you knew he was the best. It was all about winning the ball in the scrum. The skill has gone now, but you wanted the loose head or you couldn’t get your feet across and you’d have the prop jamming his head up against yours. Hookers always checked that stat to see if you won the scrums. I have seven grandchildren and they always ask me why my ears are funny. I know who is to blame and could list the front rowers who caused it."
Two games for Queensland... one in 1979 and one in 1980 - how did you find your interstate games?
"John Lang was the Queensland hooker for the first two games in 1979 and then I played the third game at Leichhardt. Kerry Boustead scored three tries for the Blues and they won, but it was a great experience. Then 1980 and I played Game I and Greg Conescu was Game II and then Langy back for Origin. I got to play with some great Queensland players. Wally was on the bench, Rohan Hancock and Norm Carr in the forwards."
You played for Queensland against Great Britain and lost 25-19?
"Third game for Queensland and third loss, that was a great experience against the touring team. England played us at Lang Park then went and played Toowoomba next. Great days. I used to go to Lang Park to watch interstate games or touring games, so it was great to play in one."
Where are your Queensland jumpers?
"I still have my three Queensland jumpers, Brothers and Raiders jumpers. My wife has kept a scrap book for me."
You played for Brisbane in 1981 against Newtown at Lang Park and coached by Arthur Beetson. How was he?
"I was lucky to be coached by some great coaches, Wayne Bennett at Brothers, Don Furner at Canberra and Peter Inskip at the coast. Inskip was a brilliant coach and great league mind. I supported Wynnum when I was young because I wanted to be like Peter Inskip. I found Arthur very daunting to be around. I don’t remember having too many chats with him because I just couldn’t do it. Bennett was great - he understood you and listened to you. Even in 1981 he was well above 'let’s bash them', which lots of coaches were saying. Furner understood the game and people."
You leave Brisbane in 1982 for the start of the Raiders and play 111 games from 1982-87 as a foundation Raider. What got you to Canberra?
"Don Furner came and signed me in Brisbane. I loved Canberra and to be there at the start, we didn’t win too many games, but we built each year, and when success came there was still original Raiders there like Craig Bellamy and Chris O’Sullivan. I retired after the 1987 grand final. Steve Walters played out the game and I didn’t get on the field, but I was 30 and that was the end."
Was your Raider mate Craig Bellamy always going to be a coach?
"He hasn’t changed at all. I remember a Raider would drop the ball and Craig would throw his mouth guard and just go crazy. He was always intense."
How would you have handled defending against Ryan Hoffman?
"He’s very tall and very good at running at space, so I would chop him down low and not let him get moving too much."