The magnificent victory of Queensland on Wednesday night in Origin I in Adelaide has revived thoughts of “Fatty’s Nevilles,” the 1995 counter-all-odds team coached by Paul Vautin that won the unwinning series.
It was a surprise, given the apparent comparisons, that Vautin was not a central part of the night’s Channel Nine commentary team, or a big lead-up figure. We can explain today why.
“I had a patch of what I thought was dry skin on my face, but I went to the doctor to get it looked at … the next thing I knew I was being told that I was on the way to developing skin cancer,” he said.
“With Origin coming up, I spoke to the doctor and said what would happen if I put it off for a few weeks, even three weeks. I said to him, ‘Believe it or not, I work in television and my face is on TV’.
“He didn’t give a rats and told me I had to act straight away. I was told not to muck around. They gave me a treatment called Efudix. It’s a cream that they explained to me is like chemo in a tube. I was told to put it on twice a day for 21days, but after 13 days, I just couldn’t get any more on, it was too painful. At times it hurt so much I couldn’t talk.
“Now I know that there are plenty of people going through more than me, but this is just what I had to deal with. The doctor told me that I could back off it because it was clearly working. That was a huge relief to me.”
The message from one of Australia’s most famous redheads is a simple one. “Look, given I’m a ranga, I’ve always looked after my skin … I am outside a lot, but I am aware the dangers with being a redhead and the sun,” he said.
“It just shows you can’t be too careful. Go and get your skin checked, even if you think it couldn’t be a cancer and even if you are being careful.”