In 1998, Matt Geyer was only known as the younger brother of Mark Geyer and a fresh recruit of the yet-to-be-proven Melbourne Storm. But one year later, the outside back was on track for a career-defining year of rugby league.
24 years later, the Storm legend recounts the moments that lead to him pulling on the Blues jersey for his first State of Origin and how it pushed him as a part of Melbourne’s first Premiership win.
“I spent the summer practising goal kicking. I gained the confidence, I was never a great goal kicker, but it got me a spot,” Geyer shared.
“I was in the team. I trained with that air of confidence.
I had no anticipation of what that year was going to be like.
Alongside his developing scoring abilities, Geyer also had a natural partnership with Storm and New South Wales fullback Robbie Ross. Former teammates at the defunct Western Reds, the pair had made the trip to Victoria together, retaining an on-field bond like no-one else.
“Robbie Ross, I credit him with a lot of my success. We had a lot of faith in each other,” He added.
“He was more of a natural footballer than me...we backed each other so many times.”
After 20 NRL appearances, the then 23-year-old's performance in Round 10 of the ‘99 season solidified himself not only in the reserve grade but as one to watch.
Scoring 34 individual points from the wing, it was apparent to all, except Geyer, the representative call was imminent.
“I just left Perth a couple years ago and we played [Western Suburbs] and it was 12-6 at half time.” the maths and PE teacher recalls.
“We ended up beating them 60-6 and I'd scored a bunch of points and scored some tries and they invited me to the press conference.
“So, I'm about 10 games from being a reserve grader and thinking about how I’m in the team, I was totally oblivious.
“Actually, for the last kick, I didn't even realise I was getting a point-scoring record on the game.
“I went to the press conference and I'm sitting there next to [Glenn Lazarus] and I thought they wanted to talk about the point-score.
“They said, ‘Oh, is there a better winger in the game at the moment? You know Origin selections next week’ and I went.”
Geyer’s jaw drops in amazement.
“I've got a lump in the throat, like ‘what?!’ no one had ever mentioned Origin to me,” the father of two admits.
I'm fighting for words and then the great Glenn Lazarus is sitting there, he's saying if ‘he doesn't get picked you know they need their head read!’
“Then sure enough, I got picked with Andrew Jones and Laurie Daley, Brad Fittler and Clyde, you know, heroes and I'm sharing a change room with them.
“That was just out of this world.”
Appearing in all three matches, Geyer saved his biggest impact for Game III scoring the Blues’ only two tries levelling them with the Maroons to draw the 1999 series.
Geyer scores first for the Blues
“The game’s so fast and it goes so quick, but it gave me so much more confidence to finish the year with Storm and I felt by the end of that year I was an accomplished first grader. They put me at 5/8 in the finals and I felt ready,” the former Currumbin Eagles coach says.
“I felt like I could do anything because of those experiences throughout the year.”