Hodges: Our Anzac tradition

There's no doubt that as a retired player Anzac Day is the one day of the year when you wish you could turn back the clock and pull the boots on for one more time.

Throughout my career I was lucky enough to participate in a number of events around Anzac Day, starting with what has now become one of the great occasions of the year when I played for the Roosters through to Test matches against the Kiwis and games for the Broncos on Anzac Day later in my career.

The build-up to the Roosters-Dragons game on Anzac Day is so big that it is almost like a grand final and the emotions when you are out there just prior to kick-off are unlike anything else in our game.

Our old Roosters coach Ricky Stuart was very passionate about the Diggers and the history of Anzac Day and remembering the men and women who fought bravely for our country for us to live free and give us the freedom to be able to play rugby league.

Walking down that tunnel behind soldiers, men and women, you come out to a packed house and everyone is standing, you look up in the stands and find your family and the goosebumps come and the adrenalin starts flowing and your most competitive juices start to fire.

As you're standing there side by side with your teammates the emotions are very different because you can feel the sadness of it all as well.

You know what happened at Gallipoli and at Kokoda and all the wars we have fought in; kids who were going off to serve at 18 and 19 years of age not knowing if they'd ever come home. So when you listen to The Last Post being played it is a very different type of emotion.

As players, when you play on Anzac Day you feel a great sense of responsibility that you are playing to represent the people who fought for our country and there's no way in the world you want to let those men and women down.

If we have a bad game we can come back next week and fix it up but if they have a bad day then they may not come back to their families. That's the difference between us and the realisation of what those men and women put their bodies through.

In my last couple of years at the Broncos we had Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith come in and talk to the playing group and his presence and what he had experienced was absolutely incredible.

We've also got Adam Walsh in the club who looks after welfare and is our under-20s manager. Adam is ex-SAS and he spoke with our under-20s guys on Monday night about the importance of Anzac Day and his own personal experiences fighting for his country.

He urged our guys to go home and learn a bit more about the Anzacs and what it stands for because when they go out there on Thursday night to play they'll also be representing the people that made it possible for them to play football for a living.

It's an occasion unlike anything else I experienced in all my time playing rugby league and I wish all four teams the best as they take the field on this most special of days.

Final thought

There's no question the Panthers have fallen short of expectations in the first two months of the season and I think a big part of that comes back to the decision to make Matt Moylan captain.

In my opinion Matty is too young to be taking on such a role and I'd lean more towards someone like Peter Wallace who has been around for a long time but is still playing fantastic footy.

I don't think Matt is ready for the responsibility to be a leader. You need to do everything right, you need the respect of all your players and you need to be doing everything first before you ask any of your teammates to do the same.

Apart from 'Wal' that Penrith spine is very young so taking the burden of captaincy off Matty Moylan would free him up to concentrate on football rather than the distractions that come with being captain both on and off the field.

At the moment they look frustrated and not particularly happy so they need to find out what works for those young guys and get back to playing the brand of football we saw from them last year.