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Dragons stalwarts fired up to chase another ball

Date

Sam Hall

Ben Hornby and Dean Young have life after league planned to a tee.

Moving on ... Ben Hornby, Dean Young.

Moving on ... Ben Hornby, Dean Young. Photo: David Tease

UPON telling the world he would throw away a lucrative tennis career to join the professional golf tour, Australian Scott Draper applied a simple turn of phrase: ''I'm passionate about my golf and I want to wake up in the morning excited.''

Draper never joined the same rarefied space as Tiger Woods or Bubba Watson, but he fulfilled his dream - even winning a NSW PGA tournament along the way.

It is with the same outlook Dragons legends Ben Hornby and Dean Young fantasise about their futures.

Up to 70,000 fans are forecast to farewell the Dragons pair, as well as Parramatta's Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt, when the two sides clash at ANZ Stadium tomorrow night.

Hornby and Young are club icons and ambassadors for rugby league. Both are almost a throwback to the days where footballing commitments came after an honest week's work. Yet the mention of something other than their retirement game was solace to either player this week.

''We used to play golf … religiously once a week for the first four years of my career, and then when I did my knee we stopped playing,'' Young said. ''We used to actually have a big Dragons golfing crew - there was myself, Benny, Reecey Simmonds, Matty Head, Penny [Chris] Liekvoll, Shaun Timmins, Trent Barrett …

''We were playing a lot of golf back in those days and then the injuries came along and families, of course, and it kind of slowed down.''

The venue usually rotated between Russell Vale, Kembla Grange or Calderwood, while the group would vary in size from just Hornby and Young to a full complement of seven.

''Benny used to give us all a lesson,'' Young said. ''It sort of used to shit us to tell you the truth because he'd be off his game and he'd still beat you by 10. He is handy. He'll be modest, but when he puts his mind to it he's easily under five handicap.''

The running banter between the clubmen usually followed Hornby and his archaic clubs, which Young reckoned wouldn't be out of place in the Arnold Palmer era.

''I never buy new sticks,'' Hornby joked. ''I've used the same sticks since I was 15.

''When I was younger I played every day, so it's hard not to get good.

''It was never like it was going to be a career path for me. I was always going to play footy and I enjoyed playing golf. I never had to make a decision because there was no decision to be made: I only ever wanted to play football.''

Tomorrow night, Hornby is calling it a day on his 13-year career and walks away as St George Illawarra's only premiership-winning captain and most-capped player. Young is drawing the curtain after 10 years in the NRL, due to knee problems, and also finishes with a premiership, Test and State of Origin honours.

Beyond Mad Monday and the club's end-of-season trip, it's understood Hornby and Young have secured off-field jobs in some capacity at the Dragons. However, they say golf will now be the common thread in their pursuit of a contest.

''We are looking forward to that stage of our lives where we're going to have a bit of time off,'' Young said.

Four Nations 2014

Round 1
Sat, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
ENG 32 vs SAM 26 Stats
AUS 12 vs NEWZ 30 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEWZ 14 vs SAM 12 Report Stats
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
AUS 16 vs ENG 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEWZ 16 vs ENG 14 Report Stats
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
AUS 44 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Final
Sat, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEWZ 22 vs AUS 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Four Nations 2014
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 22 6
Australia 3 2 1 0 12 4
England 3 1 2 0 0 2
Samoa 3 0 3 0 -34 0
View all
 
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