LEST WE FORGET
Australians have sacrificed a lot over the past year.
Whether it’s time with family, the livelihoods that sustain us, or even just the creature comfort of bending the elbow with friends.
The past 12 months has taught us the importance of sacrifice, and more importantly, what feats can be achieved if we do so together.
But what we’ve endured pales in comparison to those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and continue to serve our nation at home and abroad.
Last year we woke up at dawn and ventured down our driveways as a sign of respect, but one year later, we return to acknowledging them in the most auspicious and Australian of ways, and the significance of Anzac football isn’t lost on Wagga Tigers president Paul Lucas.
“We want to do that little bit extra this week for sure,” Lucas said.
“We’ve been working closely with the sub branch for their input for the afternoon and making sure we have extra facilities in place so as many people can be involved in such a great and meaningful occasion.”
Although excited, the new Wagga Tigers president would be lying if he said the extra importance didn’t also bring with it added pressure.
“On a personal level, I’ll be relieved once the game starts,” he laughed.
“I’m new in the President’s role and hosting Anzac footy is such a privilege that you really want to make sure you do it right and give it the respect it deserves, so it is a bit daunting in some ways.”
But it isn’t just Lucas that will be new to the responsibilities of the big day.
The Tigers fielded half a dozen debutants in their round one clash against Leeton, now in game number two, many young cubs will be thrust into the spotlight of a game about so much more than just footy.
“The boys have always lifted for the Anzac games we’ve had prior to this and this year will be no different,” he said.
What is also going to make it very special is that we had six debutants last week, so that means there’s a new generation of young players who get the opportunity to play in a game as meaningful as this one. They’ll all be keen as mustard.”
All football and netball grades will be pushed further into the day to help accommodate the 5:30pm bouncedown and if the Saturday night special wasn’t enough, the matchups will be.
Wagga Tigers and Mangoplah share a rivalry born of equal parts disdain and respect. On the footy field, the Goannas have been pegged by many as RFL premiership contenders, and on the netball courts, the Tigers are out to exact revenge after last year’s heartbreaking grand final defeat.
“We’re really looking forward to playing them.
It’s always a good game, there’s a good rivalry and we think the two teams will do the occasion justice.”
As for the main event itself, Lucas is backing new coach Murray Stephenson to continue to establish himself as one of the league’s premier players, all the while proving the club right for giving him the top job.
“He’s an absolute ripping guy, we’re blessed to have him and he and his wife have slotted right into the club with no problems at all.
He calls a spade a spade and the players think the world of him and it’s hard not to when you see how he attacks his footy like he did against Leeton last week.”