He had a knack of reading the play like few others to have laced their boots.
A crafty player who earned plaudits when plotting for club, state and country, three-time Dally M Halfback of the Year and seven-time New South Wales Blues representative Greg Alexander is now ready to do it all again.
A self-confessed “avid reader”, Alexander says there’s rarely a night that goes by where he doesn’t finish the day with a book in his hand.
Called upon by newly-appointed Blues coach Brad Fittler as an advisor ahead of the 2018 Origin series, ‘Brandy’ is set to scan through NSW Rugby League’s talent stocks in the pursuit of returned glory – his arm need not be twisted when asked to feature in Fittler’s setup.
“I didn’t need any time at all to think about it,” Alexander tells NSWRL.com.au.
“I never really envisaged being involved in State of Origin, but the opportunity to be involved in the next couple of campaigns, it was an easy decision… it’s the biggest competition in Rugby League.
“I’ll be another voice for [Fittler], another person he can reach out to for help if he needs it. Everyone reads the game differently, everyone has different opinions on how things may play out.
“Me and Freddy, we agree a lot, we talk football all the time. To be there and to be able to help where need be, it’s a great honour, I’m really thrilled about it.”
Their relationship dating back to their time shared at the foot of the mountains – most notably a bond forged during the Panthers' premiership winning year of 1991 – Alexander and Fittler share a trust and an understanding that extends far beyond that first founded on the football field.
“He does things a little bit ‘differently’, but it works,” Alexander says of Fittler.
“He’s shown in the past that he has a great ability to get a side ready in a short campaign, he’s shown that with the Lebanon boys throughout the World Cup.
“Apart from that, he knows the game well. He’s coached in the NRL which, in his three seasons in that, he had some success there.
“It’s all been a learning experience, that will make him a better coach. He’s just got that ability to make people relax and to focus on what needs to be focussed on.”
Out to arrest Queensland’s current hold on the Origin shield, Alexander forms just one part of Fittler’s support staff, which together will work to return Rugby League’s grandest prize south of the Tweed River next year.
Though June 6, and Game One of next year’s series, may seem a date on a distant horizon, Alexander and Fittler will confide in the lead up to Christmas as work begins to ensure Origin success in 2018.
Brett Morris’ Blues retirement opens the door for a host of Origin-hopefuls – returning stars who have played for NSW prior, as well as those who have only ever dreamed of donning the state’s colours.
“Mostly, it’s about getting the team right. NSW has some fantastic, emerging young talent ready to take their chances,” Alexander says.
“We’ve also got some terrific, experienced players who have been there for a few years now. We came within a whisker of winning [the 2017] series, and wrapping it up in Game Two.
“We’ve got some players who haven’t tasted Origin yet that will certainly be pushing hard for selection I’m sure in 2018. It’s a very exciting time for NSW.”