Gladstone welcomes Qld in sea of maroon

Gladstone is a town that could use some good memories.

The region has been hit hard by the end of the resources boom but was given a day to remember on Thursday when Queensland’s State of Origin team visited.

Thousands lined a CBD street in the central Queensland town to cheer their heroes.

Every year as part of their Origin preparations the Maroons take themselves to a regional part of the state – bringing the players to fans who may otherwise only ever see them on television.

For local business owner Effie Robb, there was no doubt how important the day was to the community.

“It’s great for the community to come out and have something to do and also to give Goondoon Street some exposure because it’s been very quiet down here,” Robb told AAP.

“It’s good to have all these people come and support the team and also just Goondoon Street in general.”

Uniform-clad schoolchildren, pub patrons, office workers and maroon-clad fans of all shapes and sizes overwhelmed the 10 players who made the trip.

Corey Oates, who hails from the central Queensland town of Biloela, was getting his first experience of an Origin fans’ day.

The 21-year-old, who debuted in last month’s series opener in Sydney, admitted the experience was an overwhelming one.

“It’s good to see the crowd and that, I’m gonna enjoy it,” Oates told AAP.

“I’ve never experienced this, like the boys said, soak it up.”

Queensland coach Kevin Walters said the tradition of taking the team out to regional areas was a vital experience for players like Oates.

“It’s very important to give a little bit back to all these people, they support Queensland in many different ways,” Walters said.

“It’s good for the players to come out and see how much support they get. It’s wonderful.”

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