NSW VB Blues coach Laurie Daley returned to his home town of Junee with the spoils of his side’s victory, the Holden State of Origin Shield, for the 72nd Riverina Schoolboys Carnival last Saturday.
The legendary former Junee Diesel was inundated by fans seeking autographs, photos and a yarn, with the NSW coach patiently working his way through a queue of supporters at some stages more than 200 metres long. Daley, who manned the autograph tent for more than two hours, was joined at the Carnival by NRL CEO, Dave Smith, as well as long-serving NRL star Andrew Ryan.
Daley said it was exciting to bring the Origin Shield to his home town and share it with the Riverina’s rugby league players and supporters on a day that attracted more than 140 junior sides and almost doubled the population of the greater Junee area.
“For us to bring the Origin Shield to Junee, for the Riverina Schoolboys Carnival, where there were opportunities for thousands of kids to touch the trophy and have photos with it, I think that is pretty special,” Daley, who also visited Wagga Wagga recently, said.
“It is always good to come down here to the Riverina, to return home, and especially so following our State of Origin victory.”
The Riverina Schoolboys Carnival, which started in 1943 with six teams, is the biggest event on the Junee calendar. The event has involved many of Australia’s finest footballers including Daley, Peter Sterling, Greg Brentnall, the Mortimer brothers, Adam Perry, Trent Barrett, Les Boyd, Andrew Farrar and David Barnhill.
Each year junior rugby league players from as far west as Hay, from Yass to the east, Wodonga to the south and Forbes to the north head to Junee, with some travelling three hours to attend the event.
The Riverina Schoolboys Carnival, held across fields on Laurie Daley Oval, Loftus Oval, Junee Showgrounds and Burns Park, is played in a round-robin format across age divisions from under-7s up.
The tour of the State of Origin Shield now heads to Walgett next week for the Ricky Walford Shield.