Matt Dennis Memorial: 'It's not just a game of footy'
A FRAMED picture of Matt Dennis sits above the exit to the Brothers Ipswich home dressing rooms at Blue Ribbon Motors Field.
Some players give it a tap as they head out onto the field before each match. Others may stop and recall a treasured memory from a time they shared the field with the former Brothers player, who passed away in 2009.
Tomorrow night, Brothers and Norths will renew their Rugby League Ipswich rivalry in the Matt Dennis Memorial match.
Brothers captain Elijah Umu never played alongside Dennis. But he has played in his fair share of matches in his memory.
"I never got the chance to meet Matty myself, but since I've been at the club I've felt the passion,” Umu said.
"When it comes to Matty, I'd say not just Brothers but Norths as well, there is a lot of emotion there.
"It is a privilege and honour to play in Matty's memory.”
The Brothers-Norths clash usually brings the best out of both sides. But Umu said his side always found a little extra for this match each year.
"Since I've been here, playing in these games has been tough,” the skipper said.
"Everyone just wants to rip in. There's real emotion.
"You feel it in the warm-up and in the sheds. As the boys chuck on that jersey you can see it in their eyes.
"It's not just a game of footy.”
But Brothers still has a job to do on the field.
And Umu said they will have added motivation to make amends for their 28-20 loss to the Tigers in round five.
"I was injured that game, but I went and watched,” he said.
"It came down to who wanted it more. But our boys are much hungrier now. We really want to get it back and square it up, especially at home.
"The boys won't want to lose this one.”
Rugby League Ipswich Round 12: Saturday (6pm) - Brothers Ipswich v Norths Tigers at Blue Ribbon Motors Field.