Langer looks back on his great day
FORMER champion halfback Allan Langer has a better insight than most into the emotions churning within Queensland captain Cameron Smith as he prepares to take the great Darren Lockyer's record for playing the most State of Origins in history.
But unlike Langer, who was often physically ill before big matches, Smith, who steps out for Origin number 37 in Sydney is a calm, cool and collected character.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett remembers the game in 2002 when an anxious Langer reluctantly edged past "The King" Wally Lewis' record of 31 Origins. Langer ended up setting a new record of 34 games, which was broken several years later by Lockyer (36).
"Alfie went past Wally's record in that series, but he wasn't too keen about doing it," Bennett told Australian Regional Media.
"I remember he wasn't happy about wiping Wally's name off the record books. He had such respect for him as a player and what he had done for Queensland ... he said it didn't feel right.
"Wally was such a great player and an ornament to the game, someone the players and Alf admired enormously.
"It wasn't easy for Alf to break his record."
Langer confirmed to Australian Regional Media he was not at all comfortable about taking the record off such a legend.
"It was a funny feeling on the day," he said, recalling his mixed emotions.
"To me, Wally was always Origin.
"Being a kid watching him, then playing with him, it didn't seem right overtaking his record.
"Nobody ever thought it would be beaten."
Langer said it turned out to be a wonderful day after Lewis spoke to him about taking the record.
"It was a great day and when Wally came up and congratulated me, it was even better because the man is Origin," he said.
"It was an absolute thrill to be up there with him."
Langer, who at his heaviest was 77kg wringing wet, said for Smith to play 36 Origins in the middle of the field where the contest is the toughest, was an incredible achievement,
"Smithy is an accountant in a rugby league suit I guess, but he is all heart and plays with his head," Langer said. "He's a great gentleman on and off the field. There no better player to overtake Locky's (Darren Lockyer's) record."