Civoniceva, Prince, Renouf, and Campbell to grace the rugby league field again
Some of the most popular crowd favourites to grace Cbus Super Stadium and Suncorp Stadium will bring back memories for spectators at Sunday’s NRL derby clash between the Titans and Broncos … with a special message behind familiar faces and jerseys.
Steve Renouf, Shaun Berrigan, Scott Prince, Petero Civoniceva, Brad Thorn and Darren Smith [Broncos] will take on the likes of Preston Campbell, Clinton Toopi, Anthony Laffranchi, Ash Harrison, Kevin Gordon and Kevin Campion [Titans] in the curtain-raiser to the NRL clash, named the 'Deadly Choices International Challenge'.
And Campbell and Prince, once a brilliant halves partnership for the Titans, are passionate about the motive behind the match – choices people of all works of life and cultures must make in their lives, because they are typical examples.
Campbell, 41, has returned to the playing field this year to experience playing with his 18-year-old son Jayden in the Gold Coast local league.
Campbell, who has spent all of his working life in the well-being and community support space and now runs the Preston Campbell Foundation, wants to be an example to indigenous Australians particularly on how the right lifestyle choice can save lives and hardship.
An advocate for mental health, at one stage he'd added 16kg to his playing weight after retirement from the NRL in 2011, while preaching the right choices to others. He briefly made a comeback alongside great mate Clinton Toopi for Runaway Bay club in 2015 before piling on the weight again and getting lax with his diet.
Heart disease and diabetes has affected Campbell's family and the prompting of Jayden to get back on the field with Helensvale Hornets in the Gold Coast reserve grade competition, has been a blessing for him, he says.
"My boy has said for years 'When I’m old enough Dad, we’ll be able to play together', and I sort of brushed it off,” said 'Presto'.
"Helensvale hope to have an A-grade team next year and I was just turning up and showing my face in the early stages and helping where I could.
"But they talked me into having a run and it's great to have Jayden around; his attitude is quite infectious with his league and touch footy and it's pretty special to be able to play on the same team.
"I got up to 87kg which is pretty heavy for my height. Now I’m around 76kg and have just cut the sugar from my diet and training," Campbell said.
"But what I’m doing, with my job too and what we'll hopefully do on Sunday in the invitational game, is trying to inspire people to make positive change in their lives.
"It hit me. For seven years after I retired and had much needed time out, I got used to not doing much [physically] .When we talk about lifestyle it is so broad; it’s about physical activity, eating well and interaction with people.
"We are still role models. It's about doing something to prevent things happening with our health rather than waiting to having to do something about it."
Prince, 38, as fortunate to have returned to high level touch football and has represented Queensland and Australia at over-30 and over-35 age levels.
He says that activity, and his full-time job with the Broncos in their community and well-being division, has been a godsend for him after going straight into commentary with Fox Sports after he retired as a player in 2013.
"I did it tough for a while; I felt something was missing," Prince said of the first year post-football.
"I was mowing the lawn twice a week to fill the space – feeling I should be playing or training for something and I missed being around the boys and planning for the year ahead.
"I fell back in love with touch football; it gave me something to strive for and something to play for.
"You retire as a footballer and that chapter finishes. Then it's about who are you really – who you are and what do you stand for outside of being Scott Prince the footballer.
"I felt I retired a year or two too soon and took a while to come to grips with that. It was hard while doing commentary because I was thinking I should still be playing. So I wasn't ready for that role.
"But I found myself when I got into the well-being and community role with Christine Halliwell at the Broncos. I'm passionate about that as well as my role as an ambassador for Deadly Choices for the past four or so years.
"The Broncos program has developed from 10-15 staff to 40-plus and it’s a major part of the Brisbane Broncos as an organisation.
"The messaging around Deadly Choices is that it doesn't matter if you're a footballer, ex-footballer or anyone in the community you still have to make deadly choices, healthy choices, for a healthy lifestyle.
"My deadly choice is to drink two litres or water a day and do at least 30 minutes of physical activity."
Prince, who is Justin Hodges' assistant coach with Queensland's under-20s and assists with the Broncos women's team, says that while it will be great to catch up with mates and there will be plenty of on-field banter, the competitiveness between the former NRL stars is sure to come out.
'I think both teams will want to win. But just reconnecting and the fans seeing some old faces again is going to be great."
The match kicks off at 2pm [the NRL clash starts at 4pm], with a string of internationals, former Origin stars and fan favourites.
The teams are:
GOLD COAST TITANS - 1 Luke Capewell, 2 Kevin Gordon, 3 Josh Graham, 4 Brenton Bowen, 5 Matt Petersen, 6 Brad Davis, 7 Preston Campbell, 8 Sel Birdie, 9 Clint Amos, 10 Esi Tonga, 11 Clinton Toopi, 12 Luke O’Dwyer, 13 Chris Orr, 14 Peter Gill, 15 Kris Kahler, 16 Kevin Campion, 17 Anthony Laffranchi, 18 Adrian Vowles.
BRISBANE BRONCOS - 1 Barry Berrigan, 2 Alwyn Simpson, 3 Steve Renouf, 4 Chris Walker, 5 Steve Michaels, 6 Sean Berrigan, 7 Scott Prince, 8 Paul Stephenson, 9 John Driscoll, 10 Petero Civoniceva, 11 John Te Reo, 12 Brad Thorn, 13 Terry Matterson, 14 Brett Seymour, 15 Ben Hannant, 16 Ben Czislowski, 17 Darren Smith, 18 Dane Carlaw.