Blues Kickoff Alumni Program
New South Wales rugby league have launched its True Blues alumni program to pay tribute to all of those who have pulled on the sky blue jersey and represented the state of New South Wales since the first team ran out in 1907.
Tom Ryan never played against Queensland.
He only pulled on the sky blue once, scoring six tries against a visiting All-American team almost 70 years ago. And most of them had never even seen a rugby league game live. He was even a maroon, for one game, when he coached up at Rockhampton in 1955.
But on Wednesday night, Ryan – the oldest attending player of the inaugural True Blues alumni held at The Star – was officially made part of the New South Wales family.
"I've been looking forward to it as soon as I first found out about it," he told NRL.com.
"Someone told me I was the oldest, I don't know about that. But I think it's fantastic what they're doing. It brings old players that we haven't seen for years.
"I coached Temora in '54 and John Kelly coached in '55 – and we just met. I went to St George, but everyone used to go to the bush. We used to get a bit of money there."
Almost two decades after Queensland's Former Origin Greats were founded, the NSWRL launched its alumni program to pay tribute to every single player to have pulled on a Blues jumper since 1907.
Origin legend Brett Kenny admitted he had long been jealous of the Maroons' FOGS organisation.
"And rightly so, because they've been very successful for Queensland," he said.
"We did try it here in NSW but it just didn't have the same success. So now they're trying something new. Hopefully this will work and things will become a lot better for the team and state.
"The whole thing is the fact that you need to have the current players feel comfortable when they're around former players."