St George-Illawarra winger Jason Nightingale believes the emotion of their annual Anzac Day game against the Roosters helps his side dig deeper.
Rugby league is a game built on a battle of wills, strength and heart. 

But while we love rugby league and the courage often associated with it, the game shares no comparison with what our Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women have endured over the past 99 years. 

Our heroes of World War I faced a literal uphill battle upon their arrival to Gallipoli on April 25th, 1915, when the Anzac spirit was born.  

In 2014, the traditional Anzac Day game between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons will celebrate what our soldiers have achieved for the Australian and New Zealand nations, often through sacrifice. 

Bill Collier, a World War II veteran in the Special Forces and the last remaining member of St George's first premiership-winning side in 1941, aptly believes that Anzac Day should be a day where the good times must be at the forefront of the memories.

"Anzac Day is a time to remember all of the mates you were with during the war and all the ones that have departed. You think of all the good times and you don't worry too much about all the bad times. I'm just thankful that I'm still here – that's the main thing. I'm the last of the 1941 Dragons side, so I'm next," laughed Collier.

At 92 years of age Collier will be at Allianz Stadium on Friday to commemorate his fallen mates and to honour the Anzac spirit on what has proven to be a very special day on the rugby league calendar. 

"It's probably the highlight of our regular season," Dragons winger Jason Nightingale emphasised. 

"I know it is personally for me and a lot of my other teammates and I'm sure the Roosters boys feel the same way about it. It's always a big occasion, a big event and one where you feel very blessed to feel a part of."

"It's always a perfect time in the afternoon and everyone's in a jovial mood and then they bring on the ceremonies with the Last Post which always pumps up the crowd and the players as well."


The emotion of the day is not lost on the players, including Nightingale, especially when it involves 40,000 people jam-packed inside Allianz Stadium with one goal: to celebrate and remember the lives of our fallen veterans on this special day. 

"It is [a special day] and that's just because of the emotion they put into the day and obviously the people we're remembering in the process. That all adds to the atmosphere and the contest and that probably motivates us to go that step further than we usually do," Nightingale said.

"You could pretty much get out of bed and walk here and the 15-minute build-up before the game will get you up for it. 

"There's a lot of emotion in the day and the ceremonies beforehand really help add to the atmosphere as well as the crowd that always packs in here."

Lest we forget.