Game still delivering special moments for CQ footy legend
PJ Marsh drew the curtain on his professional rugby league career in 2010.
But the game he played at the highest level for close to a decade still continues to provide opportunities and deliver accolades.
The 40 year old was recently named in the Deadly Maroons Indigenous 40-year Origin Team, alongside the likes of Arthur Beetson, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges (see full team below).
The champion hooker, who made four appearances for Queensland, said it was incredible to be included in the star-studded line-up.
“To be named in that side was amazing,” Marsh said. “Some of the names in there… wow, to be among them is something pretty special.
“Sometimes it’s surreal, and I have to pinch myself sometimes when I think about what I achieved in the game.
“I was just a little kid from Blackwater who had a big dream.
“I never take it for granted but I’ve got to remember that thousands of little kids out there want to do what I’ve done.”
The 158-game NRL veteran then enjoyed a footy experience he will always cherish.
He captained the Central Highlands All Stars in an exhibition game against the Australian Team of NRL Legends in front of thousands of fans at Blackwater.
Marsh has been involved in the Legends format on and off for the past 10 years.
He would generally player with the Aussies but being the hometown hero, got to lead the local outfit.
They put in an impressive performance and were leading before some Matt Bowen brilliance in the closing stages meant the game ended in a 32-all draw.
Marsh said it was also fitting the teams played for the Nathan Turner Memorial Trophy, in memory of the local truck driver who died last May.
“I had the opportunity to catch up with Nathan’s partner and it was clear emotions are still very raw,” he said.
“I didn’t know Nathan but it was evident how much he meant to the people out there.
“Everyone involved in the game was pleased to play in his honour and hopefully it made those close to him feel that he’s not forgotten.”
Marsh said he was humbled when named as captain.
“I had tingles. To be named captain really blew me away,” he said.
“I never forget where I come from. I’m one of the proudest Blackwater, Central Highlands, Central Queensland men going around so to be able to lead those boys out was extra special.”
Marsh was also thrilled to play alongside some of the CQ players who inspired him when he was young.
He holds one fond memory in particular of Reggie Cressbrook, who went on to play 34 games for the North Queensland Cowboys.
“I watched Reggie in one day play Woorabinda under-19s, then play reserve grade and then play A-grade,” he said.
“I was ball boy that day and I remember it like it was yesterday.
“It was only a few weeks later he was picked up by the Cowboys.”
Deadly Maroons 40-year Origin team
Greg Inglis – 32 games
Dane Gagai – 16 games
Steve Renouf – 11 games
Justin Hodges – 24 games
Matt Sing – 24 games
Johnathan Thurston – 37 games
Scott Prince – five games
Arthur Beetson – one game
PJ Marsh – four games
Sam Backo – seven games
Gorden Tallis – 17 games
Carl Webb – 12 games
Sam Thaiday – 29 games
Matt Bowen – 10 games
Willie Tonga – eight games
Wendell Sailor – 14 games
Dale Shearer – 26 games