This week the Cronulla Sharks announced that they have signed 19-year-old Jack Rogers to the club. It was the most recent example of the NRL’s fantastic pulling power.
Jack is the son of dual-international Matt Rogers and grandson of club legend Steve and it is surely remarkable to have had three generations from a single family signed with the one club.
The Sharks’ grand final-winning Harold Matthews side was notable for including Trace Davidson (son of Rabbitohs hard-man Les), Monty Raper (grandson of Monty Porter and great nephew of the Immortal Johnny Raper), and another Jack – this time a Gould – son of commentator Phil.
The side also boasted a fourth famous league name in Kyle Flanagan, son of first grade coach Shane.
For me these dynasties – multiple generations playing rugby league at the highest level and often at the same club – is one of the most wonderful things about our code, as it speaks of the passion for the game that extends from father to son (and daughter), which often is how we fans are first introduced to the game.
Most of us develop an interest in sport at a very young age and our allegiances to a particular sport or code is more often than not influenced by our father. Many of us today are passionate rugby league fans because our fathers were as well.
For many our first attendance at a league match was alongside out fathers and we cherish the many memories this evokes.
For me it brings back memories of numerous Souths matches at the Redfern Oval, then later the Sydney Football Stadium (which for me will always be the ‘SFS’). Playing arch rival Eastern Suburbs, the red, white and bluesters, at Henson Park.
A solitary match against the Maggies at Lidcombe Oval. Cold pies at half-time (they’re still cold). And most of all the throaty sound of Tina Turner belting out “Simply the Best” over the loudspeakers at the conclusion of the match.
So, it must give the old timers like Matt and Les a unique sense of pride to know that their sons are not only supporting the club they spilled blood for, but are actually following in their footsteps and may one day reach the highest level the game has to offer.
Another junior looking to break into the top grade is Liam Coleman (son of Souths legend Craig, whose daughter Tara is a champion iron woman). Liam is an up-and-coming halfback who has been signed to Souths’ Holden Cup squad until the end of 2016, and he’s every bit as ‘talkative’ as Tugger.
The Rabbitohs’ junior squad also includes Jackson Garlick, son of Sean, who has temporarily given away the family’s famous meat pies to focus on his rugby league career and is part of the Bunnies’ NYC squad.
While these guys have yet to reach first grade, we also currently have a number of sons of former greats who are well established in first grade.
Mitchell Pearce is arguably the most prominent son of a gun in the NRL at the moment, and like his father Wayne has represented the NSW Blues on several occasions and is having his best State of Origin series to date.
It’s quite amazing that Mitchell has played 192 first grade games for the Roosters yet is only 26 and has several seasons ahead of him. His next match will see Mitch equal his father for first grade appearances and like Wayne he is likely to retire as a one-club player.
With 239 first-game appearances, Kevin ‘Horrie’ Hastings was one of the all-time favourite Roosters, and now most fans eagerly watch the progress of son Jackson, who with only eight first-grade games has plenty of catching up to do.
And where would the Blues be without Brett and Josh, who along with father Steve ‘Slippery’ Morris have played a combined 597 first grade matches (and counting), which must be a record for first-grade appearances by father and son combinations.
Then there’s Curtis Sironen, who at only 21 years of age has an immense future and may be a Blue down the track. His 49 first-grade appearances are well short of his dad’s 246 but for mine he’s one of the most exciting young forwards in the NRL.
Other notables are Daniel Mortimer, son of Bulldogs family legend Peter and Joel Reddy, son of ‘Rocket’ Rod.
And we can’t end without a mention of Craig and Dean Young, a father and son who played a combined 443 first-grade matches for the Dragons, with both retiring among their club’s favourites.
So, who is your favourite father-son combination? Who have I left out that is worthy of mention?