Sydney Roosters stars Anthony Minichiello and Shaun Kenny-Dowall joined some of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force at Victoria Barracks in Sydney today to launch tickets for Rugby League's traditional ANZAC Cup match, which went on sale to the public this morning through Ticketek.
One of the game's great rivalries, the April 25 clash between the Roosters and the Dragons will pit the 2010 Grand Finalists against each other for the first time since last year's decider and is set to be the blockbuster match of this year's Telstra Premiership.
Rugby League's traditional ANZAC Cup match each year pays tribute to the hundreds of thousands of former and current Australian and New Zealand service men and women and remembers all those ANZACs who served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
"The ANZAC Cup is one of the most moving games we play each year," Sydney Roosters fullback, Anthony Minichiello, said today.
"It's a chance to pay our respects to all Australians and New Zealanders who have died serving their countries and to also thank those who have served and still do today.
"It's really important to us and to all Rugby League fans that we say thanks to them on ANZAC Day.
"This year's game is also a chance for us to make good on last year's Grand Final and it would certainly be great to see a full house and plenty of service men and women in the crowd."
Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall said he was looking forward to acknowledging the contribution of his home country of New Zealand to the ANZAC tradition.
"The ANZAC Cup is always a pretty special occasion," Kenny-Dowall said.
"It's a chance to remember and thank not only all the Australians but also all those New Zealanders who are part of the ANZAC tradition.
"I have family and friends in Christchurch who keep telling me what an amazing job the New Zealand Defence Force is doing to help out people affected by the earthquake – it's a lot like the way the Australians helped here during the Queensland floods and the Victorian bushfires.
"The ANZAC Cup match is a chance to thank all these people and also to remember those who have died serving their country.
"The two Australian soldiers who lost their lives recently in Afghanistan are only the same age as me and when I think about the sacrifices they've made and how their mates are still pushing on under some pretty tough circumstances, it makes you really proud of them and it makes you want to play well for them on ANZAC Day."
Joining Minichiello and Kenny-Dowall today were SGT Peter Spiranac from the 39th Personnel Support Battalion, Able Seaman Tim Ross from HMAS Kuttabul and CPL Sara O'Rourke from 3 Expeditionary Health Squadron, RAAF Richmond whose respective deployments include Sudan in 2009/2010, the Gulf of Aden and East Timor in 2005/2006/2007 and the Dutch hospital in Afghanistan in 2009.
"It's great the NRL recognises the service of men and women of the ADF, both past and present, through this game," SGT Spiranac said.
"I know a lot of past and present service men and women will be at the game and it will be a great way to help commemorate ANZAC Day."
Tickets for the 2011 ANZAC Cup match between the Sydney Roosters and the St George Illawarra Dragons are available now through Ticketek outlets, at www.ticketek.com.au or by calling 132 849.