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How Rugby League Explains Queensland


Weaving together stories of diehard supporters and game-changing players, from Arthur Beetson to Johnathan Thurston, this is a revealing account of Queensland’s coming of age, both on and off the field.

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For more than 40 years, rugby league has embodied all the hopes and dreams, contradictions and tensions of life in the Sunshine State. The game speaks to Queenslanders’ sense of being the underdog and the outsider – a powerful undercurrent that sweeps through politics, business, the arts, and sport. The enduring appeal of State of Origin is that it allows Queensland to balance the scales, at least for 80 minutes. In Heartland, journalist Joe Gorman chronicles a tale of loss and rebirth – from the decline of the Brisbane Rugby League competition and North Queensland’s Foley Shield to the extraordinary rise of the Broncos and the Cowboys in the NRL.

Joe Gorman
Photo by Jack Baxter

Joe Gorman

Joe Gorman is an independent journalist and author. His journalism has been published in TheGuardian, TheSydney Morning Herald, TheAge, TheCourier-Mail, Overland, New Matilda, Sports Illustrated, Penthouse and SBS. He has spoken at the Sydney Writers Festival, and appeared on Al Jazeera, Copa90, Deutsche Welle, and the ABC. His first book, The Death and Life of Australian Soccer, was hailed as ‘one of the best and most important written on Australian sport’ by TheAge, and long-listed for the 2017 Walkley Book Award. Joe was born in Brisbane and lives in Cairns. His second bestseller, Heartland, won the Queensland Literary Awards – Queensland Premier’s Award for a work of State Significance in 2020.