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United in maroon: Chris Lynn

Cricketer Chis ‘Lynny’ Lynn is synonymous with the colour maroon, the larrikinism that is being a Queenslander and once upon a time he was captain of a rugby league side that included Queensland Maroons duo Ben Hunt and Andrew McCullough.

The superstar batsman - who barracks for Norths Devils in the Hostplus Cup and BMD Premiership - has played cricket for Queensland, Australia and internationally, and plays for Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League.

Playing in just his second Sheffield Shield match as a 19-year-old in 2010, Lynn showed off his skill by hitting 139 of Queensland’s total of 285, becoming the fourth youngest player behind Andrew Symonds, Jimmy Maher and Martin Love to score a century for the Bulls.

Thinking about what it means to be a Queenslander, Lynn said “as they say, you don’t understand what it means to be a Queenslander unless you’re a Queenslander”.

“Say we’re talking Queensland against New South Wales in State of Origin… New South Wales hates playing against Queensland and Queensland loves playing for Queensland,” Lynn said.

“We love playing for each other, playing for the people of our state and I think we’re very humble people, we love the underdog card and ‘what does it mean to be a Queenslander?’….  it’s the best in the world. It’s a bloody cool feeling.”

Lynn said growing up, Origin in his household “was the one night you got to stay up until whenever you wanted”.

“I just remember State of Origin, Queensland would be behind with 10 minutes to go and they’d somehow find a way to win… that never-say-die attitude is ingrained in the Queensland culture and it might sound a bit wanky but it’s true… sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true,” Lynn said.

“It’s so true that a lot of the sacrifices that the Queenslanders have made away from the field translate onto the pitch and it’s so cool to see those rewards.”

Lynn, a dad-of-one, said Mat Rogers “was one of my heroes growing up”.

“Normally a lot of people say Darren Lockyer, Wendell Sailor… but Mat Rogers, I loved when he donned a Maroons jersey,” Lynn said.

“He was a goalkicker so he always got the moment, kicking the goals, and because he was a winger he could catch the ball and put it over the line… let the big boys in the middle do the hard work. Guys like Gorden Tallis, who is one of my good mates, I felt like they got all the recognition, so I like being a little bit unique with my favourite players. Mat Rogers was one of my heroes... I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve met him a few times and he’s a top bloke.

“That sums up the Queensland attitude as well. I think they give, looking at any Origin side for Queensland, Queenslanders always give their time to anyone from regular people in the city to guys digging holes in Mt Isa. Such good role models.

“Another one is Johnathan Thurston, the role models he is… the great work he has done in different communities is so, so cool.”

Lynn said the first time he personally donned maroon was Queensland Under 12s in 2002.

“I actually captained the Queensland schoolboys cricket side and rugby league side in that same year and believe it or not, Maroon Andrew McCullough was in both of those teams,” Lynn said.

The Queensland Under 12 cricket side featuring Lynn.
The Queensland Under 12 cricket side featuring Lynn.

“I know it was only under 12s but there was guys like Ben Hunt in that line up who has obviously played a heap of Origin. Dunamis Lui as well.

“James O’Connor, another Queenslander who has played a lot for the Wallabies; Lama Tasi, who has also played for the Broncos.

“Myself and Andrew McCullough had the privilege of being in both those teams, but the rest were just in the league team. I was captain of both of those teams in 2002, when I was in Year 7. The last guy to do that was actually Berrick Barnes, another great Queenslander.”

The Queensland Under 12 rugby league side featuring Lynn.
The Queensland Under 12 rugby league side featuring Lynn.

Lynn said he remembered the feeling of putting on his first maroon kit.

“I remember getting my rugby league jersey first because cricket was later in the year… that big ‘Q’ on the chest, I remember thinking ‘I’ve made it’,” Lynn said.

“You get to meet some of your heroes at 12 years old and find out what it means to be a gatekeeper for that Queensland jersey. And about the people who have worn those jerseys and you get told about the history and then putting on the baggy maroon for the first time was really cool. To be captain of both of those teams topped it off.

“We ended up losing in the final of the rugby league to New South Wales but we had such a cool school side…. I keep in touch with all of those boys, which is really special, and I think that’s a Queensland trait that’s been ingrained.

“Regardless of if the guys have been picked to play NRL or State of Origin, or they’re a tradie, chippy, whatever it may be, you never lose those bonds.

“That’s how my rugby league journey started. Then Cyril Connell picked me up for one year with the Broncos when I was 15 or 16. But I’d rather face blokes that bowl 140 than tackle blokes who weigh 140.”

The Virginia State School and Nudgee College graduate, who hails from Northgate where his parents still live, said the support he received as a youngster put him in good stead to excel.

“My old man played waterpolo for Australia and actually built me a cricket net down the side of our house… pretty lucky… I wanted a football field but the yard wasn’t big enough,” he said.

Lynn said now, it was an absolute privilege to be one of the Queenslanders who helped put Queensland on the map outside of the state.

"Wherever you can contribute in your own community is really cool... I just take inspiration from that State of Origin side that won eight in a row and the mighty Queenslanders like Jimmy Maher, Andy Bichel, Allan Border those calibre of blokes who put Queensland cricket on the map.

“When you’re a youngster, you learned the trade of obviously winning but also celebrating your mates’ successes. That’s what I’ve tried to filter down to the younger Queenslanders.

“We’ve seen Xavier Bartlett make his ODI debut for Australia, and here’s these young kids, Matt Kuhnemann as well, and they’ve won Big Bash with Queensland Heat… I like to think I played a bit of a role in mentoring them and teaching them the ways I got taught to be a Queenslander.

“You’re going to have some shit days but celebrate your teammates’ success. I think that’s what all good Queenslanders do, whether you play for two minutes or you play the full 80 minutes in State of Origin, you win together and you lose together.

“I think there's very simple policies and values that Queenslanders have that you just don't shy away from.”

These days, Lynn said he tried to attend Origin when he was in town but if he was overseas, he always made sure he watched and cheered.

“Like I said, you always celebrate your teammates’ success… that doesn’t have to be from the same team, it could be another sport,” Lynn said.

Chris Lynn and Andrew McCullogh.
Chris Lynn and Andrew McCullogh.

“Going to the games and putting a maroon scarf around your neck and having a XXXX Gold… all those Queenslander things… it might sound a bit bogan but I absolutely love it.”

When it comes to this year, Lynn is tipping Queensland to win two games to one.

“New South Wales have a game in there somewhere if Cleary plays well, or whoever it may be, but Queensland are just so well oiled at the moment. With Billy Slater at the helm, he leaves no stone unturned,” he said.

“And even with Cameron Smith dropping out of the coaching ranks, you’ve got Matty Ballin coming in. I know Matty and from all reports from the Brisbane Broncos, he’s an exceptional coach, so they’re not going to go backwards in any way, shape or form.

“And like I said, Billy Slater is one of the most influential people in Queensland and leaves no stone unturned so I’m actually really excited to see what they’ve got to bring.

“What I actually love more is when they go into camp, they have that first night – Alfie’s bonding sessions – and that has never changed even though the sports scientists have said it can be bad, but for team culture, it’s the best and I hope that never changes in Queensland camp.

“Because the next day, it’s usually followed by something even more important in going out to the communities and trying to grow the game of rugby league….that’s something that if you do go out on the piss the night before, you still have to work the next day regardless and you don't let your teammates down and that's another Queensland value that is ingrained into us.”

Lynn said Alfie was the best.

“Just the respect they show for Alfie as well, it’s really cool, because he hasn’t played in a long time but he’s one of the greats... but his carry on… he’s one of the only blokes who can make Wayne laugh and that’s a trait in itself," he said.

Lynn said there were so many Queenslanders he thought of who had positively impacted Queensland and what it means to be a Queenslander including golfer “Cameron Smith… he’s a legend”, adopted Queenslander Darren Lehmann

“Kieren Perkins, winning that 1500m to win the gold medal…. Cathy Freeman… when I was younger growing up, how influential they were,” Lynn said.

“Now there’s Ash Barty, what she’s done… gone outside of her comfort zone, tried something else in cricket… I actually coached her in cricket a couple of times when she made the transition….  her ability to go outside her comfort zone to try something new and to know if it doesn’t work out, life’s still not that bad.

“He’s an adopted Queenslander, but someone like Charlie Cameron, lighting up The Gabba, Gorden Tallis, born and bred Queenslander… how he speaks in general and commentating…. I love how Queenslanders don’t put mayo on their stories, or GST, or whatever you want to call it, they’re very direct.

“The world we live in now, some guys you have to pump up and others you have to give a rocket to, but Queenslanders can take criticism on board and use it constructively.

“How influential those people are… Alan Border, Wally Lewis… they’re so cool… I’d love to get to know them over a beer, away from sport and find out what turns them good people, good leaders, whatever it may be. I’m grateful to be forever learning of these guys and girls.

"Being a Queenslander is the best."

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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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