Old rivalries ignited

Old rivalries will be ignited when former Dragons and Sharks come together at a Men of League Foundation luncheon to be held at Sharkies Leagues Club next Friday.

Sharks legends Andrew Ettingshausen and Mitch Healey, will be joined on stage by ex-Dragon stars Mark Coyne and Nathan Brown in an event timed perfectly to coincide with the first local derby clash of the 2015 season.

With the Sharks to take on the Dragons at Jubilee Oval in Round 12 on the following Sunday afternoon (May 31), there will be plenty of former players in the room to debate the merits of the two clubs both past and present.

“There will be a lot of ex-players, and for that matter players who were with both clubs, who will be there on the day,” said Men of League State Manager Stuart Raper.

“Al Wilson is the MC - he played for both; then there’s Graham Bowen, who was at Sharks and Dragons, Chook (Dragons Immortal Johnny Raper) coached the Sharks, and there will be plenty of others in the room as well.”

They include the four guests invited to entertain the crowd with their tales of times gone by, with Coyne only too happy to light the fuse early by talking-up the Dragons-Sharks rivalry.

“With the whole local rivalry thing, even though I came from Brisbane I wasn’t a fan of the Sharks anyway, but when they stole a few of our players through the Super League war that added even more spice to it,” Coyne said.

“I did hate them when the Sharks and Super League took our players.”

A 207-game player for the Dragons, nine times a Kangaroo and a regular fixture in the Queensland Origin team, playing 19 games for the Maroons over eight years, Coyne did however have a level of respect and found a few kind words for the Sharks teams of his era.

“You didn’t necessarily mark down the local derby games at the start of the year, but when the Sharks were coming up on the horizon the intensity and preparation did go up a notch,” he said.

 “We had some really good battles through the 90s; we were both very competitive teams through that period.

“They had a really good attacking team, then for a while there they had Les Davidson and also Danny Lee in the front row; he was a good player as well.”

Coyne also reserved some special praise for the man he will join on stage next Friday, Sharks immortal Ettingshausen, a player he faced on numerous occasions at both club and Origin level.

“He got plenty of accolades as a flashy attacking player, but defensively ET was one of the best centres in the game,” he said. “The longer he played the better he got. Nothing much got by him.”

Ettingshausen and Coyne, Brown and Healey will be just some of the personalities coming together for a common cause, to celebrate the game of Rugby League and to raise money for the Men of League Foundation.

Even though he will be setting foot in ‘enemy’ territory next Friday, Coyne was more than happy to support the cause and be a part of the event.

“It’s a great organisation. I hope people get along, give a little and we can raise a bit for those who need it,” Coyne said.

The luncheon will be held in the Aqua Lounge in Sharkies Leagues Club on Friday, May 29 from 12pm.

To find out more or to book your place at the luncheon go to www.menofleague.com, call the numbers listed on the flyer below, or email Brian Cox, a member of the Southern Sydney Men of League committee and also a player in the inaugural Sharks team in 1967, at b-cox@bigpond.com.

Established in 2002, Men of League is an organisation caring for the Rugby League community.