The NRL State of Origin series opened with its first match on June 5, won by the New South Wales Blues against the Queensland Maroons. Two more matches will be played to decide the overall winner. Both sides contained players who became new dads around the same time as the first game.
From the Queensland team, Johnathan Thurston and his fiancee Samantha Lynch welcomed their daughter Frankie Louise on June 7.
Johnathan has played for the North Queensland Cowboys since 2005, and is their co-captain. He has played for Queensland since 2005, the Australian team since 2006, and the Indigenous All-Stars since 2010. He has won the Dally M Medal six times, received three awards from the Rugby League International Federation, and named Player of the Year at the Cowboys twice. He received the Wally Lewis Medal for State of Origin player of the series in 2008, the Preston Campbell Medal as man of the match in the All-Stars game of 2010, and named man of the match four times at Origin games. Two years ago he received the Golden Boot Award as the world’s best rugby league player, and he is also a member of the Australian Aboriginal rugby league team of the century. He has never missed a game of Origin since his 2005 début, and has played 21 consecutive Origin matches. Since 2005, Queensland has not yet lost a State of Origin series.
From the New South Wales team, Ryan Hoffman and his wife Mel welcomed their son Zach on May 22.
Ryan has played for the Melbourne Storm since 2003, and spent 2011 in the English Super League with Wigan Warriors. He has played for the City Origin side since 2006, New South Wales since 2007, and Australia since 2007. Ryan is the son of Jay Hoffman, who played for the Canberra Raiders.
(Photo of Johnathan and Sam at top from the Townsville Bulletin; photo of Ryan and Zach at bottom from The Telegraph)