Donning a blue jersey, track pants and footy boots, the prime minister joined the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Rugby League’ on Tuesday morning for their fourth annual State of Origin touch football match.
Sucking back the cold Canberra air, the group ran out for the ‘friendly’ – put on by NRL Chief Executive Andrew Abdo – taking place on the parliament playing field.
New South Wales and Queensland sides consisted of veteran pollies, like former Nationals leaders Michael McCormack and Barnaby Joyce.
Some speculated he was worthy of the Wally Lewis medal, but the PM apparently disagreed.
“Barnaby has very short stints on the field. Even though he represents the NSW seat, he has a Maroons jersey on as well,” Mr Albanese told Today.
“Look, there should be an inquiry into some of these players and where they are playing for, I tell you.”
He then took issue with former Wallaby turned Senator David Pocock, who also hit the field for the Maroons during the match.
“I can report the greatest scandal since GI (Greg Inglis) playing for Queensland, David Pocock from the ACT pulling on a Queensland jumper.
“They will stop at nothing.”
But the biggest controversy came just before half-time.
With a sweaty and exhausted NSW side already up 2-1, the Prime Minister hit the gas, making a glorious run toward a gap.
Hot on his heels, was newly-minted junior minister, Anika Wells.
Diving across the try line, the crowd cheered, and an elated Albanese raised both arms while running toward the group, before taking a lap of high-fives.
All the while though, Ms Wells was appealing to the referee, claiming she’d made contact with her boss, before he put the ball down… and replays would suggest, she did.
The referee ultimately gave Mr Albanese the benefit of the doubt, awarding NSW the final try of the morning.
Albo’s Blues took home bragging rights and the odd cramp, winning 3-1.
Asked about the contentious call in a press conference, meters from the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms Wells laughed off the controversy.
“Before I walked back into the Prime Minister’s Office, I’ve really loved being the Minister for Sport, it’s been an honour.
“I think we can all agree that the referee is probably going to be the next governor-general based on that decision,” she said.
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