NRL stars touched by War Memorial visit
A contingent of NRL stars travelled to the nation's capital to be on hand for the announcement of a four-year partnership with the National War Memorial, and was left touched by what they saw there ahead of a massive commemorative Anzac weekend of rugby league.
In his first-ever visit to the exhibit, Dragons cult hero George Rose said he was floored by how much more real the sacrifices of the Anzacs seemed.
"It is a really eerie feeling, going through and seeing all the thousands of names on the walls. You see last names that you recognise and wonder if they're related to someone you know," Rose said.
Rabbitohs forward Ben Lowe said he was looking forward to being part of a huge Anzac weekend of rugby league to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.
"It's a special day in the calendar for every Australian," Lowe said. "To be down here [in Canberra] and to go through the War Memorial after the renovations are done, the new museum... it's very touching and overwhelming what the Anzacs have done to help Australia be the way it is today."
Raiders and Kangaroos forward Josh Papalii said Anzac Day is always a massive occasion.
"Seeing the big wall full of names for all the people that fought for this country, that's why we're here [in Canberra], to recognise those people."
Roosters star Aidan Guerra, currently sidelined with a fractured jaw, was another visiting the memorial for the first time.
"The exhibition's well-respected and I can see why, they've got pieces in there from famous artists, pieces in there from the families of our Anzacs. It just goes to show the respects our country has for our soldiers," Guerra said.
"It's definitely a game you pencil in every year and you always have your eye on the Anzac game because there's a lot of feeling out on the field and a lot of meaning to the day as a whole in our country, and everyone sort of shows respect in whatever way they can and for us it's playing a good game of footy.
"Every year there's a lot of respect and there's a big tribute to what the day means to us all but obviously this year being the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli it's going to be a special day, whether you're at the footy or at the dawn service, it's going to have a strong meaning for everyone around the country.
"The foundations were laid 100 years ago, the country is very thankful and that's why we have a day with as much meaning as Anzac Day."
Recently-retired Storm prop Bryan Norrie was also touched by the visit, having previously played several big Anzac-Day clashes against the Warriors.
"Obviously Anzac Day is a massive day in Australian history. It's great to be here and have a good tour around and represent the Melbourne Storm and the NRL," Norrie said.
"It's a special occasion to get to play. It puts it into perspective. We're lucky to play rugby league on a day like that. A lot of the boys try and go to the dawn service and they're all very honoured to get to play a game of footy on such a big occasion for Australia."