Ryan Bennett (10), Kohen Mau (8) and Ethan Ewert (7) train with Brent Tate at Airlie Cove.
Ryan Bennett (10), Kohen Mau (8) and Ethan Ewert (7) train with Brent Tate at Airlie Cove.

BIG4 rubs shoulders with stars

WHITSUNDAY'S BIG4 Adventure Parks were the place to be last Wednesday.

In the lead-up to Tuesday's Maroon fan day and street parade in Proserpine, the holiday park was caught up in the hype with the action-packed Road to Origin Tour.

The tour builds Origin fever in regional communities across New South Wales and Queensland and connects former Origin stars with their fans.

This year's stars were Matt Cooper and Brent Tate.

The former Origin stars spent Wednesday morning at Crossley Holden in Proserpine before a quick visit to BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort in Cannonvale to meet its guests.

Marketing manager Tanya Cran said the boys had all the staff blushing and giddy-headed.

"We were over the moon," she said.

The Road to Origin features a variety of events to satisfy the enthusiasm of rugby league supporters during its five-week road trip and one of them was a mini league clinic at BIG4 Airlie Cove Resort and Caravan Park in Jubilee Pocket.

More than 50 children and their eager parents packed the resort's camping ground on Wednesday afternoon.

Many of the children were donning their Brahmans jersey or Maroon colours.

Tate and Cooper divided the players into two groups and went through basic training practices, leading their teams in a friendly match.

"You're a New South Wale-er if you drop it (the ball), you're a New South Wale-er if you fall," the children were yelling out to each other, which had the NRL greats in stiches.

Airlie Cove Resort and Caravan Park was certainly prepared, with fairy floss and a barbecue. After the mini league clinic, there was the opportunity for fans to grab a snap with the stars and a Q and A session, where they provided tips from their playing days.

Lips were zipped and ears opened as the children (and parents) looked up to the boys all starry-eyed.

Many admitted it was their dream to play NRL professionally.

Cooper said there were many "young guns" in the Whitsundays and if they worked hard enough, it was definitely possible.

Tate admired the community's patriotism for Queensland. Manager Jody Langham was stoked with the turnout. The Road to Origin Tour had previously visited three BIG4 holiday parks in New South Wales, Cairns and Townsville before their last stop in the Whitsundays.

The State of Origin series is regarded by many as Australia's greatest sporting rivalry. Match three of Origin will be played next Wednesday, July 8, in Brisbane.


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