It is extremely rare that you see players who start and finish their careers at the one club. This weekend we will see in the one game, four members retire from professional rugby league as ‘One Club Men’, Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt from the Parramatta Eels and Ben Hornby and Dean Young from the St George Illawarra Dragons.
I was fortunate to be appointed as the Parramatta SG Ball Coach for the 1996 season. It was around this time in 1995 when I was tipped to watch the semis for Group 6 which had Camden, Warragamba and Moss Vale playing against each other.
I was there on advice to watch a young backrower from Moss Vale – Nathan Hindmarsh. He was ultra-impressive that weekend and so began his long association with the Parramatta Eels. (I also watched another impressive young man named Scott Geddes in the same game for Moss Vale. He can come too)
Nathan Hindmarsh relished the representative training requirements and performed brilliantly in the trials. It was easy to name him Captain for the 1996 Parramatta SG Ball team. Early in his career he did what he does now, tackle everything that moved. It was harder to get him to run the ball. Just quietly he was very quick and very elusive in his teenage years.
I was a privileged coach to have him in 1996 (he once played fullback against the Sharks – impersonating Ben Barba by catching a bomb and running 90m to score a try).
Parramatta was defeated in the 1996 Grand Final by the Illawarra Steelers. Two players from that game who we know quite well – Ben Hornby at centre and Luke Bailey on the wing… I kid you not.
Nathan Hindmarsh will deservedly retire from rugby league as a legend and will hold the record for most first grade games by a Parramatta player possibly forever. Legend.
I watched Luke Burt play Harold Matthews under the stewardship of Gary Freeman at Parramatta when he was 14 years old. He was similar to now in that he was electrifyingly fast and could score tries at ease. He even had a mullet back then.
In 1998 I was coaching the Parramatta Presidents Cup team (reserve grade) and we needed to depth for wing. Luke Burt had played the full season of SG Ball then progressed to Jersey Flegg. It takes a fair amount of talent for a 17-year-old to progress through the grades and be called up to take on the men in reserve grade but it was an easy decision given his talent. He didn’t venture to reserve grade much after that season.
I was fortunate to cross paths with these two Parramatta Hall of Famers. Parramatta is better for them representing the Blue & Gold’s with respect, commitment and a willingness to immerse themselves into the community.
Congratulations are also extended to Ben Hornby and Dean Young. I’m sure a young Steelers coach is out extolling similar virtues on these two men as I have for Hindzer and Burty.