Cameron Munster, capacity crowd the perfect tonic for Queensland Maroons before game three

Christian Welch is a big inclusion in the front row after returning from concussion, and exciting hooker Harry Grant will make his debut off the bench. Grant will take over from an exhausted Jake Friend at some stage but can also play in the halves given his creativity.

Corey Allan has been handed a debut on the wing, taking the place of Phillip Sami, who had a difficult night at ANZ Stadium.

But it’s Munster, whose confidence and running game helped drive the Maroons to a game one upset, who is the key inclusion. Valentine Holmes, who was named at fullback, could spend time on the wing if Allen takes over at the back. He said Munster looked back to normal as he went through the medical protocols.

“He is all right. After the game he was a bit quiet and annoyed he couldn’t play out there. Today he has been fine, normal Munster, chatty and lippy. He seems right,” Holmes said.

“He’s got to do the usual protocols. The doctors and staff will do a great job to try and get him back. He has played in grand finals, Origins, big games, he is someone we definitely need to have out there.

“He is an experienced player in our team and in the leadership team. We need him on the field.”

Holmes struggled to make many inroads behind a badly beaten pack and said losing Munster in the opening minutes didn’t help, given he had spent much of his training running off the star playmaker.

“I did a lot of work with him to bring me into the game. His confidence and what he brings to the team gets us going,” Holmes said.

“We prepared all week for Munster and [Daly] Cherry-Evans to be in the halves and Hunt to come in as a lock, roving player. It threw a spanner in the works a bit, but it’s a professional sport and we need to be prepared for that.”

Brenko Lee, who would have started game one if not for a late calf injury, has also been named in the 21-man squad. He could be part of a reshuffle that sends Kurt Capewell to the bench, with Dunamis Lui the man most likely to drop off.


The return of Munster and Welch makes the Maroons more formidable but their biggest gift may have come from the state’s chief health officer, who has signed off on new COVID restrictions that will allow every seat to be filled at Suncorp Stadium.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new regulations would come into force on Tuesday, the day before the game.

With Sydney still declared a COVID-19 hot spot, the ground will be filled by hopeful Queenslanders, ensuring NSW get a typically fearsome welcome. With ratings poor for game one and two, it might finally feel like an Origin after all.

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Brisbane Distillery’s Gin School – Just the tonic for summer! – Good Food Gold Coast

It’s ‘gin o’çlock’ around the world, the liquor that began as a medicinal tonic once again one of our top trending drinks.

There’s no better time than now to learn more about gin and its distilling process, especially when it comes with the opportunity to make a bottle of gin according to your own personal tastes.

Brisbane Distillery in West End, fresh and gorgeous following a recent renovation, has just reopened their venue which features a 23m long cocktail bar and luxe banquette booth seating. As Brisbane’s only ‘grain-to-glass’ distillery, making both gin and Caribbean-style rhum, Brisbane Distillery holds pride of place high in the distilling stratosphere.

The addition of a custom designed, state-of-the-art Gin School right next door (in fact co-joined) to the existing distillery is a huge asset, the venue not only functional, but also a beautiful space.

Surrounded by vintage botanical illustrations and shelves holding 150 tins of different botanicals in alphabetical order, we take a seat at a table in front of one of the thirty individual copper stills. They are mini versions of the huge stills you will have seen used in distilleries; the shining copper distill pot a work of art.

Our two-hour course begins with a potted history of gin and the distilling process, and then it’s time to begin.

Most of the hard work has been done for us, the base spirit having already been made from barley. Our task is to add our chosen botanicals, distilling the brew to infuse them.

We have our own instruction booklet and, most importantly, a flavour wheel as tools, the botanicals divided into seven categories such as citrus, herbal, floral etc., helping us to develop a profile of the gin we would like to make.

Of course, there’s our guide as well, ready to answer any questions and on hand to advise us on combinations and quantities to ensure that our gin was well-balanced.

With a gin cocktail already consumed for inspiration, I choose to add Kakadu plum for its sweet/sour qualities, finger lime and lemongrass for their citrus notes, orris root to get smoothness and honey for mouth feel, as well as juniper, the quintessential gin botanical.

Somewhat recklessly I tip portions of the botanicals into a bag, which is added to the still and the process begins, the temperature-controlled hotplate under the still assisting in the distillation process. Vapour from the still cools and runs off as high-alcohol gin, blended to strength with distilled water. (That’s a ‘distilled’ version of the process for the sake of brevity.)

It has been said that making gin is “a mix between science, art and black magic”. Yes, and perhaps a little bit of knowledge.

Whatever, with some rose for colouring (thinking an Instaworthy photo to reflect the plum flavours), there was definitely some magic happening in my still, the resulting gin being amazingly palatable!

The opportunity to create your own unique gin is a must for gin and tonic lovers, fitting right into the ‘experiential tourism’ boom we’re enjoying in our local areas.

I felt that I grasped most of the science involved in the process, probably because it was so well explained. I loved the experience of being in charge of my own still, choosing my own botanicals and making a unique gin to please my particular palate.

With a couple of gin cocktails and our own cheese platter to fortify us through the class, this was an enjoyable, creative experience. It would also make a perfect present for someone special giving knowledge, the experience, plus a unique bottle of gin to take home. Winner, winner!


Brisbane Distillery’s Master Distiller Experience costs $189 per person. Classes are available from Wednesday to Saturday at 2pm and 6pm. Bookings are essential via Brisbane Distillery’s website.

Brisbane Distillery, 259 Montague Rd., West End Ph: 0480 779 239

Open: Tues – Sat 11am – late; Sun 12noon – 6pm.

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast attended the Master Distiller Experience as a guest of Brisbane Distillery. Some photos credited to Brisbane Distillery.

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Origin camp a tonic for Cleary’s GF blues

Nathan Cleary was a shattered man on Sunday night but says joining the NSW Origin camp has been the perfect remedy for any lingering NRL grand final pain.

The Penrith star was in tears at fulltime after losing the decider to Melbourne but two days later joined the Blues in camp on the Central Coast.

Training with the squad for the first time on Thursday, the 22-year-old said he was still disappointed by the loss but a post-season Origin series means he doesn’t have to wait out the off-season to play again.

“It was pretty hard,” he said.

“Everything just replays in your head but I’ve been pretty lucky since the game I haven’t had too much time my myself to think about it too much.

“I pretty much came straight here (to camp).

“If I was to think about it too much it affects me as a person and me as a player in this group too.

“It’s just time to move on and control what I can moving forward.”

The Panthers halfback was brutally critical of his own performance after the 26-20 grand final loss – particularly over the intercept pass he threw for a Storm try.

He took ownership for the defeat and said he blamed himself.

The comments sparked concerns over his ability to put aside the disappointment to lead the Blues to victory against Queensland in the Origin opener on Wednesday night.

However, Cleary was jovial around the group at Blues training on Thursday along with Panthers teammates Stephen Crichton and Jarome Luai who also trained for the first time.

And when asked if he would throw that pass again if given the chance he said: “One hundred per cent.”

“It’s how you develop as a player, and and that’s my kind of thing going into the future is how to get better as a player and take on the mistakes I’ve made, but try and make sure it doesn’t happen again and try to improve.”

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