NRL 2021: Roosters, Dragons stars open up on ‘special’ Anzac Day match

Ben Hunt is set to return from a broken leg this weekend and you get the feeling he’d play through a whole lot more than that if he meant taking the field for the Anzac Day clash against the Roosters.

For the St George Illawarra halfback, there’s nothing else in rugby league quite like it.

“To me, you’re representing Australia in that game. Half the country stops to watch it and to be a part of it is really something special,” Hunt said.

“The whole day has a big build up, from the dawn service to the service on the field. It gives you chills, you feel like you’re part of something special.”

“It’s kind of surreal. When you first run out on the field everyone is screaming and it’s so loud, everyone is getting pumped up and during the moment’s silence you could hear a pin drop.

“It gives you chills, it can be hard to describe what it’s like out on the field.

“You think about the Diggers and what they had to go through – what we do is nothing in comparison to that.”

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Ben Hunt and Angus Crichton showing off the Dragons and Roosters Anzac Day jerseys. Picture: Richard Dobson.Source:The Daily Telegraph

Over the past 20 years the match has become one of rugby league’s most important days in of the regular season and an occasion the players from both sides always treasure.

Hunt himself is something of an Anzac Day specialist – he was man of the match in the Red V’s last win when he steered them to a 24-8 upset in 2018.

With Hunt enjoying close to career-best form and an excellent combination with five-eighth Corey Norman before he was injured, look for those heroics to continue.

“As a Dragons player that’s one of the games you look forward to as soon as the draw comes out,” Hunt said.

“It might just be the whole day, the whole occasion. You want to rise to it and really do your best on that day.

“I don’t think it’ll be hard to pick up (that combo) again, we’ll be playing the same style of footy we were playing early in the year.

“We’re getting back to training, working hard and talking to each other on and off the field. I think it’s all going to click back into gear.”

The NRL’s Anzac Day matches are some of the most special days on the rugby league calendar. Picture. Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia

The Dragons are outsiders on Sunday but will fancy their chances of springing an upset against the injury-hit Roosters.

Trent Robinson’s side were handed a boost when Victor Radley beat a high-tackle charge to take his place on Sunday and hooker Sam Verrills is set to return, but they’ll still be undermanned.

However, that won’t cut the mustard as an excuse, with backrower Angus Crichton promising to step it up and lead the way for the Tricolours.

“You always have to step up and do your part. It doesn’t matter what your role is, everyone can be a leader,” Crichton said.

“I’m really comfortable with our team and our squad and where we’re at. I’m excited to stand up, it’s a real test of character for our team and I have so much confidence in the guys who have come in.”

Originally published as‘You’re representing Australia’: Inside NRL’s emotional Anzac Day clash

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