Broncos skin battling Bunnies
Brisbane continues to underline its status as premiership favourites, with a spiteful 30-8 win over South Sydney.
Like so many others who will be at the ground, St George Illawarra’s Jack de Belin will spare a thought for loved ones who served their nation when the solemn strains of the Last Post sound at Moore Park before Monday’s traditional Anzac Day NRL match kicks off.
The family history of the Dragons forward is of relatives who did their bit. His great-grandfather, Fred, served as a machinegunner on the Western Front, fighting in such nightmares as Bullecourt and Ypres. His grandfather, Fred jnr, who represented Australia as a rugby league player in the 1940s, flew 30 missions in a Lancaster bomber.
The impact of their war experiences was profound. De Belin’s great-grandfather requested that, on his death, his family plant a rose of peace above his ashes. His deceased footy-star grandfather possessed the grit to fly suicide sorties, but he refused to be drawn into brawls on the football ground.
Traditional clash: Sydney Roosters players Mitch Aubusson and Sam Moa with St George Illawarra Dragons opponents Gareth Widdop and Jason Nightingale with the ANZAC Day trophy. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Players such as Roosters forward Jake Friend have described Monday’s match as one of the most emotional a player can compete in. It is also an opportunity for supporters of both teams to commemorate the lives and deaths of those players who gave their all on the football field, and all they had on the battlefield.
Those who will be honoured include:
Eastern Suburbs (Sydney Roosters)
Day to remember: St George Illawarra’s Jack de Belin (right). Photo: Adam McLean
Tom Bruce: Played halfback alongside the “Little Master”, Dally Messenger, before joining the AIF. A tram conductor with two adopted children, he died at Passchendaele after establishing a forward command post.
Harold Corbett: A journalist who was a member of the 1911 and 1912 premiership-winning squads. Was killed at the second battle of Bullecort.
Harold Dalton: Played hooker for Easts during the 1939 and 1941 seasons. Died in Papua New Guinea during World War II.
Service: Jack de Belin’s grandfather, Fred.
Ernest Gowenlock: Played for the 1913 premiership-winning Roosters. The winger died of the wounds he suffered at Gueudecourt.
John Stuntz: A winger who scored four tries in Easts’ first game. He was killed at Bullecort in 1917.
Bob Tidyman: A centre who represented Australia in 1914. Was shot after the battle of Flers in 1917 while escorting prisoners behind the lines. His body was never recovered, but two Diggers found a rugby league membership ticket with R. Tidyman scrawled on the envelope.
Percy White: Member of the 1912, ’13 and ’14 premiership-winning squads who was killed by artillery fire. His father John was one of Easts’ first presidents.
St George (St George Illawarra)
Leonard Brennan: Played 40 matched for St George in the 1930s, but died when his RAAF bomber was shot down over the sea off Italy in 1943.
George Holder: Captured in Malaya and died when a US submarine torpedoed the Rakuyo Maru, which was transporting prisoners to work in Japan.
John Holliday: Piloted a Qantas flying boat that was shot down by Japanese fighters en route to Timor.
John Lennox: Played in Saints’ first grand final. He died on the Burma-Thailand railway after being captured at the fall of Singapore.
Arthur Moymow: Joined the army aged in his 50s and died of illness while serving as a recruitment officer in Newcastle.
Arthur Ross: Died when his Kitty Hawk crashed into a Spitfire while practising ground attacks near Mildura.
James Simpson: A halfback who played in 1936. He was killed while flying an RAAF reconnaissance mission over Tripoli in 1941.
Spencer Walklate: Executed by Japanese at Muschu Island, off New Guinea, in 1945 after being captured during a special forces mission.
Lest we forget.