In memory of 'Denno'
RUGBY LEAGUE: The old enemies Brothers and Norths will come together tomorrow night to remember the "best looking redhead” to ever grace Brother Seery Park.
The Matthew Dennis Memorial clash is expected to be a special occasion again this year as the clubs look to break down the stigma attached to depression.
Using the match as a vehicle to foster understanding and create awareness of mental health issues, the rugby league community will pay its respects to the widely-adored Brothers A-grader and St Edmund's College 1st XV captain.
Brothers journeyman Beau Yates has returned to the line-up this season after several years off traversing the globe with a pack on his back.
In life, he was a dear friend of Dennis.
Yates said Dennis was the type of person about which no one ever uttered a bad word.
He said he still thought about his late friend constantly and it was heartening to have a day where Dennis was on the minds of everyone else as well.
"Everybody liked him,” he said.
"It is not the sort of thing you forget.
"He was not the sort of bloke you forget.''
The 30-year-old defensive talisman said the annual fixture presented a great opportunity for both clubs and old friends of Dennis to reconnect, reminisce and share stories about their great, late mate.
He said he had been inspired by the Dennis family and the strength they had shown in the face of such tragic adversity, and the whole community supported them wholeheartedly.
"We all know how hard it is for them,” Yates said.
"That's a big part of why we like holding these days - to show them we haven't forgotten.”
Yates said mental health and depression were significant issues for society but particularly among young men and the move by several high profile rugby league players, including Greg Inglis, to discuss their own battles had been an important step.
He said it was vitally important the game continued to work to reduce stigma and encourage players to speak about their issues and seek help.
"I think people have realised that the macho mentality associated with rugby league is conducive to mental health issues,” he said.
Yates said since Dennis' passing Brothers had been pro-active in fostering a positive environment, opening up dialogue with players and making sure they felt comfortable to voice any concerns.
"Rugby league is a ready-made support network,” he said.
Norths coach Josh Roberts said his club was fully supportive of the event and his players would be striving to deliver a riveting show for all in attendance.
He said the beauty of sport was players could give their all on the field but set aside their differences once the siren sounded.
"We try our best on the field but off it we're all good mates,” he said.
"We'll throw everything at them and see if we can come away with the win.”
Roberts said sporting stars often seemed invincible and seeing them show vulnerability would only make others more comfortable to reach out.
The Brethren have been boosted by the return of Michael Saili and Josh Leisemann.
Norths welcome back Ethan Page and Chris Scanlan. Jacob Stephan is out.
I was a dear friend of Dennis.
RLI A-Grade Rd 16 Tomorrow: 4.30pm - Goodna Eagles v Swifts Bluebirds at Goodna.
6pm: Brothers v Norths Tigers at Raceview; Redbank Plains Bears v West End Bulldogs at Redbank.