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The Bulldogs pull out of hospital visit

T.S Quint


Paul Kent: Parramatta Eels show the Bulldogs why looking at the bigger picture is as important as winning footy games

WHEN it comes to short turnarounds, nobody knows the pressure time can bring better than the kids at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead.

They live in a world where their daily actions really are, far too often, matters of life and death.

They know all too well that what they have today could be gone tomorrow, and it could be everything. Second chances don’t always come around. ‘There’s always next week’ isn’t always a choice.

Yet for reasons we never seem to learn many of these kids could teach us a thing or two about what’s important.

They accept their plight with a matter-of-factness that staggers those of us who worry over looming deadlines, or interest rates, whether my God is better than your God.

Or wins on the football field.

Perhaps better than anybody they know life is to be sucked dry. That true joy is often the small things, laughter on cold afternoons, a hug from mum, or something as simple as an afternoon without real pain.

Rugby league has always been a strong supporter of sick kids.

The Charity Shield has been raising money for sick children since 1982.

Just last week Manly players visited children at Stewart House, which helps children who have a little less than most of us.

And this week Parramatta play Canterbury in what has in recent years become the Bandaged Bear Cup.

It will be the Bulldogs’ first home game and a cut from the gate will go to the hospital to help the children.

For very good reasons the Bulldogs wanted to publicise the game as broadly as possible. They thought back to what Parramatta did last year when it was the Eels’ home game and Parramatta asked if some Canterbury players could join them at the hospital. So the Bulldogs thought the best way to promote Friday’s Cup was to again get players together with the kids.

You have no idea how much the kids look forward to this.

Last year Tim Mannah joined Josh Reynolds and there, in real life, were full-blown NRL stars. This was laughter on a cold afternoon and a hug from mum all wrapped up in one.

So Canterbury called Parramatta and asked if the Eels would join them at the hospital.

The call from Canterbury came as a short inconvenience to Parramatta coach Brad Arthur. He was not expecting it, so he had Parramatta’s week all planned out.

There’s nothing new in that. Every club has a strict schedule depending on whether it is a five, six, seven, eight, nine or 10-day turnaround between games.

Never mind, Arthur changed the schedule.

So the Eels would have a full day training on Monday and have a lighter day on Tuesday, with players training at 12.30pm before going off for individual work or, for some, heading to the hospital.

Then Canterbury called back. The Bulldogs had changed plans.

Coach Des Hasler was worried, the Eels were told, about the short turnaround.

Given Canterbury played Penrith last Sunday and have just five days to get ready for Parramatta on Friday Hasler, the Eels were told, didn’t want his players going to the hospital.

Five days, he couldn’t spare a couple of hours.

The Eels were a little annoyed, mostly because they had shuffled their week to help out Canterbury and the Dogs now refused to be inconvenienced.

What they did not waiver on, though, was visiting the children.

On Tuesday Darcy Lussick, Semi Radradra and Tepai Moeroa headed to Westmead to visit the children without a Bulldog in sight.

Little Taleigha-Rose Musico has been quarantined this past week. She is four years old and was born with half a heart and when she got a virus, after surgery just before Christmas, there was nothing good about it.

Until the Eels turned up.

“She’s all dressed and excited,” mum Emma Musico said.

“Loves them.”

The Bulldogs have since said they might send a player later in the week and you can be sure they will after today, and will insist they always intended to.

But that doesn’t make it right. The game is important and winning is important, we all know that.

Of less consideration is rugby league is a game where parents entrust their children to NRL clubs from an early age, knowing the great influence clubs will have on their boys but letting them go anyway with a kiss and a hope that the club will not only continue developing them as footballers, but as young men.

On Tuesday, one club delivered on that unspoken promise.

They gave the kids at the hospital something they all need, a boost, and without even realising got a little something for themselves, too.


being competitive 24/7 like hasler must be hardwork.

and it isn't always a good thing.


Hasler would trample over a thousand sick kids if he thought it gained his team the slightest advantage.


Eels and Panthers know what's important. An article from Phil Rothfield of all people yesterday. Atleast some clubs make an effort.

Penrith Panthers retire members seat in tribute to fan Brooke Fetwell, who died aged 15


THERE was one empty seat at Pepper Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the members section of the western grandstand, right near the players’ tunnel.

Bay 17, Row L, Seat 2. Brooke Fretwell had sat there for five years next to her mum and dad.

Before she died of brain cancer in the off-season, tragically at just 15 years of age.

In the most wonderful gesture, the Panthers retired Brooke’s seat. It is no longer for sale.

Every year when her mum Olivia and dad Karl purchase their season tickets they will get one extra.

It has a plaque with Brooke’s name. ‘In loving memory of Brooke Maree Fretwell. 6th July 1999 — 4th January 2015. Panthers Fan Forever.’

The Panthers were first made aware of Brooke’s incurable illness in September 2013.

The players visited her for 18 months in the oncology ward at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Some days after radiotherapy treatment she was too sick to see them. Other days they brought a beautiful smile to her face.

Another day the entire team turned up. They were astounded by her courage and bravery.


Brooke passed away on January 4. A devastated Matt Moylan and Dave Simmonds attended the funeral.

This is a really special story for a number of reasons.

As a sports writer you log onto your computer every Monday morning to find an avalanche of emails about what’s happened over the weekend.

About referees stuffing up, player misbehaviour, controversy, crowds and cover-ups.

On Monday morning my first email was from Joe Verzi, Brooke’s godfather.

“Please find attached photos of a wonderful gesture from the Panthers championed by their PR & Communications person Emma Duxbury.

“Emma has ridden all of the journey with us and thought this a wonderful way to commemorate the life of one special girl!

“I wanted to bring to your attention the actions of a terrific individual doing all the right things for the NRL.”

It is so heart-warming to know that for every Greg Bird urinating on a police car, or players doing drugs, or bashing bouncers, there are truly some amazing football club staff and players doing such wonderful things behind the scenes.

Duxbury was in tears on Sunday when she went to say hello to Brooke’s mum and dad.

“The Panthers were such a big part of Brooke’s life,” Emma said, “So we just wanted to do something a little bit special. To let them know we’re always thinking of her.

“That this seat will always be hers next to theirs. It’s just beautiful to have a little reminder there and to show the family Brooke was a special part of our lives as well.

“The boys were very touched by Brooke’s bravery while she was sick.

“Matt Moylan and Dave Simmonds went to her funeral.

“She was such a sweet little girl and she just loved the Panthers.”

Brooke’s family have organised a charity walk from Sydney Opera House to Manly to raise money for the Oncology ward at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Readers and footy fans are welcome to join them on March 29 in honour of a lost but never-to-be-forgotten young rugby league fan.

Hope the Eels smash the Bulldogs. Absolutely disgraceful from them. A couple of hours out of their schedule won't hurt anyone.


Manly visiting the Stewart brothers house is considered charity now.............

Dollar De$ taking his nickname to far.


remember reading an awesome article a few years ago about a sick sick kid going to panthers training and how brilliant the panthers were. IIRC it was during Matt Elliott's time as coach so it was a while ago


First Grade
The sad part for the Dogs is that when it comes to charity commitments for NRL players visiting sick kids in hospital is just standard basic practice. Pretty much every club can at the very least sacrifice a few players on a regular basis to make the hospital visits.

It's not like they're being asked to do anything too inconvenient or out of the ordinary.


No club visits or helps kids/community and schools like the Bulldogs! Camp Quality anyone?

This was poor judgement from the Bulldogs not to send a couple of players... However it was also a poor shot from the Daily Telegraph and Paul Kent when they know the amount of time the Dogs give to the community! You got your headline Kent and the bandwagon of every other supporter from every other team giving it to the Dogs!


I know the Dogs have done plenty of this kind of work but every club does. To commit to visiting sick kids in hospital and then change your mind because of a short turnaround is disgusting.


First Grade
I'm an Eels supporter and can't stand the Bulldogs as much as the next bloke but this article is poor form.

Using sick kids to get a headline is gutter journalism at its best.

By all means write a feel good story about the boys visiting kids, or a club retiring a seat, but leave the negativity to players involved in drug abuse and the mistreatment of women etc.

The fact that the DT is listed as a club sponsor makes me want to vomit.

Bulldog Force

No club visits or helps kids/community and schools like the Bulldogs! Camp Quality anyone?

This was poor judgement from the Bulldogs not to send a couple of players... However it was also a poor shot from the Daily Telegraph and Paul Kent when they know the amount of time the Dogs give to the community! You got your headline Kent and the bandwagon of every other supporter from every other team giving it to the Dogs!


And it's not just the kids they help. A couple of years ago they (along with the Tigers, Eels and Panthers) went up to help with relief efforts in QLD.

People often forget all the hard work the club does, yet when something like this happens, all hell breaks out.

I couldn't care about all the negative propaganda towards the NRL in general from that scummy piece of shit toilet paper anymore... I don't know why anyone here does either!

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