Sharks and Titans players in Darwin were handed a massive assignment on the opening day of the One Communtiy Carnival as they visited Crocosaurus Cove, with Ben Ross and Scott Prince entering the cage of death – a perspex diving cage that is lowered into a tank with ‘Bert’ the 800 kilogram croc.
“It was amazing,” Scott Prince said.
“I thought Willie Mason was big, but 800kilos of Bert has him covered.”
Prince found a playful splash of water was more than enough to see Bert create a real scare.
“Princey made a splash and Bert went agro,” Ross explained.
“He was scratching at the cage and from in there his teeth looked as big as my head.
“It was the most unnerved I’ve been for a while and I’m still pumping.
“I certainly wouldn’t hop in the water where there was a chance of a croc being there and I’m certainly now looking forward to staying on solid ground over the next few days and meeting some of the kids.”
The sight of an angry Bert wasn’t enough to put off the others however with Luke Covell, Luke O’Dwyer and Blake Green all having a stint in the cage.
The aim of the Carnival isn’t to feed crocs but to help kids feed themselves and the Eat Well Play Well Stay well campaign will be a One Community Project throughout the year joining other initiatives including the Premier’s Reading Challenge and support for Charity partners National Breast Cancer Foundation, Children’s Hospital Foundation, Youngcare and Lifeline.
“It’s a message kids respond to when it is coming from players who they look up to and who they can relate to,” Mr Gallop said today.
“The program adds a new dimension to the carnival which has already established itself as an important part of the year.
“Not only is it good for the kids to meet players they may only otherwise see on television it’s also a reminder for the players of just how much the game matters to so many people.”
Students at each school were shown the Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well video featuring Scott Prince and Nathan Hindmarsh, as well as getting the chance to gain some insights into what it takes to play Rugby League.
Elsewhere, National Rugby League Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, took the official starter’s position for the three-day event at the Murrumbah High Swimming Carnival in which Brett Morris, Terry Campese and Kevin Kingston joined schoolboy Leyte De Lepervanche (the brother of Raiders under 20’s prospect Rayne) in a race against school relay teams and finished a respectable third.
In the Southern Highlands, towering Canberra Forward Dane Tilse made a point of having a tackling session with the smallest child in each class using the safe play code rules that govern junior football.
“Tackling six year old kids at Mittagong was kind of cute and gave everyone a laugh,” the two metre high raider said.
“But it also showed that the rules for kids make it a game for everyone.”
All sixteen clubs have supported the Carnival which sees players stretched from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Mornington Peninsula. Team representatives were mixed in different groups allowing the Cowboys to give players from St George Illawarra, the Bulldogs and the Broncos a taste of life in the flood affected Cape York Peninsula.
Fans young and old have used the chance to talk footy; Souths players John Sutton and Chris Sandow were enthusiastically greeted by one fanatical Rabbitohs supporter in a broad brimmed bush hat who still bore the scars of the club’s 1969 Grand Final loss – a tattooed tiger! (he didn’t explain whether it had been the result of a lost bet or a moment of despair).
At Olympic Park, Rosebud, in the Mornington Peninsular north Queensland born Dallas Johnson was surprised to find just how far south the league message was spreading.
“When you see kids who have been brought up on AFL and have them come up to you, say your name and ask for an autograph it’s a real reminder that the Storm is making an impact throughout Victoria,” he said during a coaching clinic with two hundred and forty children.
The Carnival continues across all regions tomorrow (Feb 5). As well as school visits and pre-arranged clinics the following sessions will be open to all members of the public in those areas.
4pm-5.30pm: Tom Knight Oval, Cobar 4pm-5.30pm: Henry Lawson Oval, Grenfell 4pm-5.30pm Bowen Oval, Coolah 4.30-6pm: Harry Elliot Oval, Tuncurry 4-5pm: Community Oval, Moss Vale 4-5pm: Robertson Showground 7pm: Albatross Bay Resort Weipa 4pm-5pm: Gladstone Junior Rugby League fields 4.30pm-6pm Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino