Sydney Roosters Head Coach Trent Robinson has welcomed back hooker Sam Verrills, playing on Anzac Day at the Sydney Cricket Ground as well as a forgotten treasure of the Club as he faced the media for Round 7.
Ahead of the Club's 20th annual Anzac Day clash, Robinson said that missing out on last year's contest due to covid-19 restrictions made him and his players all the more grateful for the return in 2021.
“We’re really privileged to play in these games and to be Roosters," he said.
Coach's Media: Round 7 - Anzac Day
“To represent the Anzacs on this day, whether current or returning servicemen, we get to honour them on that day. There’s a great celebration at the ground and we get to play some footy.
“It was tough (not playing last year). It was great that we could move it to the Lone Pine Memorial down in Wollongong last year but Anzac Day at the SCG, that’s what footy is about.
“To understand the life that we get to live and how fortunate we are is because of the way that Australians and New Zealanders have looked after, cared for and fought for their countries.
“To do ceremonies in the morning, come and watch the game and have a few pies or beers is a tradition for a lot of Australians and New Zealanders, and we’re proud to offer that opportunity again on Sunday.
“There’s no comparison (between football and war); that’s why we get to share those stories of the people who have fought for us and continue to do so. We get to go out and try and represent some of the characteristics they bring in their work to ours, and that’s all we can do.
With the tension and intensity that comes with the annual clash frequently compared to that of a finals match, Robinson said he and his coaching staff were well prepared to combat the overflow of emotion that can spill over on the day, particularly in the case of younger players.
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“It’s a game of footy and the motivation can be there for the day," he said.
“It’s the things that surround the day that make you so excited to play on Anzac Day. There’s usually a slightly different preparation, you’re in the changerooms to warm up, there are all those things that go around it.
"But in the end, you’ve got to go out there and play footy. You’ve got to go out and play your style, and that’s why it’s similar to a finals setup.
“It’s education from senior players and the coaches around on how to deal with changes that often happen and how to dial in and play your game. That’s why it’s great practice and we’ll talk about that over the next couple of days as well.
To represent the Anzacs on this day, whether current or returning servicemen, we get to honour them on that day. There’s a great celebration at the ground and we get to play some footy.Trent Robinson On Anzac Day
"In the end, it’s 80 minutes. You’ve got to continue to play that footy and play the way you want to on that day. That’s going to serve well."
The day also serves as the long-awaited return of hooker Sam Verrills, who comes in at an imperative time of the Tricolours' season, particularly with the retirement of Jake Friend. The 22-year-old, according to his head coach, now has ownership of the no.9 jersey on a full-time basis - and is his to lose.
“It’s good to have him back, especially with Jake (Friend) and his retirement,” he said.
“Jake and Sam have been together trying to finish a career and bring in a young player on to be our no.9. It’s nice to see him wear that jersey and get him back into that role that we want him to perform in for many years. It’s definitely his jersey and it’s good to have his voice and precision back as well.
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“Often with those injuries, there’s a maturity that comes as well. It’s often when you have a long-term injury like that, you have very clear eyes on what’s needed on the footy field. You get a year older.
“Now it’s time to put everything he’s seen, and the voice that he’s grown on the field. It’s his to own and his to craft alongside the players around him."
The much-publicised Wartime Jersey will be making a return in 2021, and Robinson emphasised his excitement and desire to see the Bondi Blue become a staple in the Club's image and as an Anzac Day tradition.
“It’s so important that jersey,” Robinson said.
“Understanding that during the wartime rationing was important and the dye was limited, so therefore that is why they wore that Bondi Blue colour.
“To wear the jersey that we won a Premiership in on Anzac Day, we didn’t need anything else.
“We’ve had different images in our jerseys in the past – which I have loved – but just tinging it Bondi Blue this time was enough because that’s what we wore during World War II.
“It’s us. It’s who we are. It’s the jersey we’ve worn and they’ve worn it during tough times. It won’t be the last time.”
More Anzac Day on Roosters.com.au