Anzac spirit to lift Roosters, Dragons
The traditional Anzac Day clash between the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra Dragons has become the most significant regular season match on the rugby league calendar, and both sides believe it's their duty to honour past and present servicemen and women with a brand of footy befitting the occasion.
Form goes out the window when these sides meet in the annual blockbuster, with both sets of players often lifting several gears on the back of the energy and emotion created by a sold-out Allianz Stadium.
"It's our Australia Day, for me. That's how important it is. It's the day we commemorate the culture and the history that's been passed on from generation to generation," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said.
"We're very privileged to play on Anzac Day. For the Dragons and the Roosters to have this day, it's the biggest day in the regular season in rugby league and we're lucky enough to play on that day.
"It's up to the Dragons and Roosters to play football on that day, and that's how we commemorate it. We want to play our best football and that's how we commemorate Anzac Day – we play our best football on that day."
This will be the 10th Anzac Day match Dragons winger Jason Nightingale has been a part of, and he believes the sense of occasion is enough to get the blood pumping in readiness for what is usually a game of the highest quality.
"I think we all see the importance and the significance of the occasion. It is a momentous occasion and one we're privileged to go out and play sport on that day and commemorate the sacrifices," Nightingale said.
"It's never a game that's hard to get up for. You don't really need to do a lot of preparation mentally around the game.
"You do all of your training, but there's nothing that you need to do extra to pump up energy or create emotion. There's already enough motivation behind the messages being told on the day and the fact that we're privileged to be playing on this day.
"You get there and there are 30,000 people packed into the city and it's a pretty good way to get the blood pumping and to get the emotion to attack the game of rugby league.
"Something does come over you when you hear the Last Post and see the excitement in the crowd, you get caught up in the emotion of the day."