Anyone remember Matt Astill playing for us. Guessing he was a lower grader? Aussies, expats and Americans combine to make Origin III a ratings hit Nick Walshaw The Daily Telegraph July 5 2012 AMBER, as her name so beautifully suggests, is in the beer game. A New York barmaid who thought she'd poured, heard and seen it all. "And then my bar over here, we started showing your Origin games," she says, speaking down a phone line while serving breakfast beers to some 300 thirsty patrons. "I wish you could see it here. Hundreds of crazy Aussies going mad over a game played by half-naked men. What else can I say ... love it." Yep, if ever you wanted to know how big the 2012 State of Origin series has become, how huuuuuuuuuuge as Big Darrell Eastlake might put it, you have to come here inside The Australian bar, Manhattan - among a heaving crowd of Yanks and Aussie expats who have been arriving since shortly after 5am. With exactly 15 minutes until kick-off, Amber is pouring beers, chatting to The Daily Telegraph and taking food orders for stuff like The Big Artie Breakfast and Eggs Wayne Bennetdict. There is also a Tommy Raudonikis bacon roll ... with a side order of Winnie Reds for those brave enough. ... Elsewhere, bar owner Matt Astill, a retired Manly Sea Eagles prop, is fiddling with the Channel 9 feed. Keen for perfect coverage here in a front bar that, every off- season, plays host to holidaying leaguies like Craig Bellamy, Ken Arthurson and Beaver Menzies. Maroons prop Dave Shillington singing karaoke one week, Tim Mannah donating a signed Eels jersey the next. "We've had everyone from John Singleton to Brett 'The Hitman' Hart," Astill will tell you when he gets on the line. "But today, yeah, there have been few mornings bigger than this one". Welcome to Origin III via Channel 9. A global phenomenon that TV types were quietly predicting this week would surpass even that 2005 grand final between the Wests Tigers and Cowboys - where a staggering 2.56 million viewers made it the most watched match since OzTAM introduced its ratings system back in 2001. From Cobar to the Cape, millions are tuning in for this phenomenon where the first stink occurs after just 90 seconds. In recent times, Astill - who opened his little slice of Australiana in the same year those wretched Queenslanders began their run - has played host to Geoffrey Rush, Rupert Murdoch and Ron Barassi. PM Julia Gillard and Baz Luhrmann too. "But you'd be amazed how much the Americans love rugby league," the publican says. "Particularly Origin, they eat it up. This morning we've had to put up the full-house sign. It's ridiculous. We'll have this game played on a continual loop for days to come."