Son of Walter Junior breaking through
The carnival-like atmosphere of the long Easter weekend is a special occasion for most people, not least those of us who make a living off tending to everyone's sweet tooth.
But the traditional Good Friday sideshow between Canterbury-Bankstown and South Sydney will mark a particularly meaningful moment in the young career of Bulldogs winger Corey Thompson, who'll have grandad Walter and dad Walter Junior in the stands for the first time since making his debut in Round 1.
"Mum came down for my debut, but hopefully dad and grandad get down this weekend to watch me. It'd be special," the Brisbane product said.
"Grandad has only ever watched me on TV. If he makes the trip down it should be good."
Thompson, whose dad played reserve grade football for Brisbane Easts and whose mum was a track-runner, said his grandparents were one of the biggest factors for his elevation from luggage handler to NRL first-grader.
"They used to catch the train and bus to all my junior games, especially them. Nan passed away but granddad, it'd be good to see him at a live game," he said.
Thompson, 23, arrived in Sydney for the first time ever midway through last season and coincidentally made his debut in the season-opener against the same player whose exit from Belmore paved the way for his spot, Ben Barba.
"I was raised in Brisbane, spent my whole life there and it was actually the first time I've been to Sydney, when I signed with the Bulldogs, but I've loved every moment of it," he said.
"It's brilliant. I take each week as it comes, I don't really plan ahead. I just try and play good that game and hopefully make it again the next week."
It's a conservative approach that has seen the Shire resident appear in every game so far this season, although he still hasn't been able to avoid the usual rookie duties thrust on him by the rest of the squad.
"I actually do buy all the coffees because I'm not driving to training – I jump in with Trent [Hodkinson], [Mitch] Brown. It's my job to get the coffees because I'm the rookie," Thompson said.
"I never drank coffee until I moved here. I started on the mochas but now I'm nearly on the double shots. I never get the orders wrong."
The Bulldogs are hoping of a crowd similar to the 51,686 that attended the corresponding fixture last season. Centre Josh Morris said the traditional fixture was getting bigger and bigger every year.
"I think over the last 3-4 years since I've been here, it's gotten bigger every year. Hopefully the weather stays good and we get a big crowd," he said.
"I think there was 50,000 there last year and the atmosphere was really electric and we got done last year. Like I said, it's one of those ones you look on the calendar and you see it coming up and it's one that you look forward to and want to win."