Right winger for the Deaf Rugby Australian Team, Robert Dalton and coach David Murray with the Cochlear Cup. Photo: Jay Cronan
Canberra’s Bob Dalton won’t be able to hear the haka when he lines up against New Zealand in next Sunday’s rugby union Test match at Tuggeranong’s Viking Park, but you can bet he’ll still get a tingle down his spine. Dalton was born profoundly deaf and is one of the stars of the Australian deaf rugby team aiming up to defend the Cochlear Cup against New Zealand’s ‘Deaf Blacks’ in Canberra.
Dalton was a rugby league man until he was spotted starring for the ACT at a deaf touch football carnival in early 2012. He was pointed in the direction of Royals rugby club and, despite his hearing impairment and lack of knowledge for the game, has already played second grade.
‘‘The players use hand signals to communicate with me at training and on the field, which helps me understand what is being said,’’ Dalton wrote in an email.
Wally Lewis of the Maroons. His nephew Lachlan has joined the Raiders. Photo: Tony Feder
Dalton made his international debut last year when Australia beat New Zealand for the first time. Anthems are interpreted for players in sign language, but no translation is needed when you’re facing up to the haka. ‘‘Although I couldn’t hear the words they were saying, I could feel their pride and see the emotion they carried in their body language as they did it,’’ Dalton wrote. ‘‘That was a very powerful moment’’.
Many players in the Australian squad are totally deaf and coach, Canberra’s Dave Murray, said they communicated at training by sign language, diagrams and run-through demonstrations. ‘‘I’ve since learned to sign, but it’s very basic. It’s like any other language, you start picking things up the more you hang around the guys. They play rugby for clubs throughout Australia so they’re not new to the game, you’re not teaching them basic level, you’re dealing at a much higher level. Two players in the team have reached representative level in NSW Country – Paul Young and David Kearsey.’’
Dalton, who lives with his mother in Curtain, will be buoyed by family at next weekend’s game. Of Aboriginal desent, he also wants to be a role model. ‘‘I want to say to all the young Aboriginal children who have a hearing impairment like me, if I can do it, so can you. You can be anything you want if you put your mind to it.’’
Formula One driver Mark Webber with Kellie and David Furner at the Singapore grand prix.
King’s heir to Canberra
The Canberra Raiders must be recruiting by rugby league bloodlines if you take a look at their Under 18s SG Ball squad released for next season, headed up by the nephew of ‘The King’, Wally Lewis. The train-on squad will include Zac Woolford, son of former Raiders hooker and captain Simon Woolford, Morgan Boyle, the son of former Raiders premiership player David Boyle; and Lachlan Croker, nephew of Canberra’s games record-holder Jason Croker.
While the Brisbane Broncos have declared their intentions for turf war against the Raiders in the rich recruiting area of Logan, in Brisbane’s south-east, Canberra won the battle for Lachlan Lewis, the 17-year-old nephew of rugby league Immortal Wally. The lanky young halfback, who stands 189cm tall, has been on scholarship with the Raiders for a year but will relocate to Canberra in November to take up a contract.
Terry Campese and Sarah Campese at the 2013 Dally M Awards at Star City. Photo: Mark Metcalfe
Lachlan is the son of Wally’s younger brother Scott, who played alongside the King at Queensland Cup side Wynnum Manly. His parents were keen to get him out of the pressure-cooker of Brisbane and the King’s immense shadow. Only a very small percentage of SG Ball players actually graduate to become established NRL players, but Raiders development and recruitment officer David Hamilton said Lewis and Woolford, who plays hooker like his old man, showed promise.
‘‘I think Lewis will be able to go and handle [the Under 20s] NYC quite comortably,’’ Hamilton said. ‘‘He’s lean that was my concern, but I hadn’t seen him for 12 months and he’s developed a lot more physically.’’
Furner’s pit stop
Sacked Canberra Raiders coach David Furner is back living life in the fast lane, courtesy of his old Queanbeyan mate and former Raiders ballboy, formula one driver Mark Webber. Furner is a huge motorsport fan and, after many years of invites, finally got the chance to see his good mate Webber race at the Singapore Grand Prix. Furner and his wife Kellie Furner were guests of Webber for two nights at a $20,000 corporate suite during the race, where they rubbed shoulders with superstars from David Beckham to David Coulthard. But it was getting down in the pits and listening to Webber’s qualifying over the headphones that impressed him the most. ‘‘I don’t know how they see, let alone drive. It’s just so quick.’’ Don’t think Webber missed out either. He’s a huge fan of the Raiders and stayed up until 6am after the race, chewing the fat with Furner about footy. Furner leaves for Europe this week as assistant coach of the Australian Kangaroos at the World Cup. He’s already been sounded out by one English Super League club, but is looking to see how things fall in the coaching merry-go-round that is the NRL.
McCrone to number nine?
Don’t be surprised if Josh McCrone starts in the No.9 jersey for the Raiders next season as new coach Ricky Stuart tries to find a solution at hooker. The club has ruled out trying to lure Souths hooker Nathan Peats to Canberra for next season, even though he had an exit clause in his new deal at Parramatta. In long term options, the North Queensland Cowboys have snared teenage Canberra hooker Josh Chudleigh, who came with massive raps from former Raiders rake Simon Woolford. Shaun Berrigan and Mick Picker have retired, while Glen Buttriss will miss a chunk of pre-season because of a shoulder reconstruction. McCrone is viewed as a genuine option.
Grand final exits for past Raiders
There’s always a fair bit of disillusionment from Raiders fans about losing the club’s juniors and talent. It especially hurts around grand final time, given the club hasn’t featured in the decider since its 1994 premiership win. This year we have Manly props Brent Kite and Brenton Lawrence, both Raiders juniors who went to Erindale College and never got a chance to progress to first grade with the Green Machine. It occurred to me that a former Raider usually pops up in my annual search for some tenuous Canberra link to the NRL grand final. Turns out that every NRL grand final – since the competition was started in 1998 – has featured at least one former Raiders player, who was either a Canberra junior or started their career with the Raiders. There’s 21 in total and the list even includes two Clive Churchill medallists – Kite, with Manly in 2008, and hooker Luke Priddis, with Penrith in 2003. So picking from the players who have gone on to bigger and better things to play in a grand final since leaving the Raiders, here’s my grand final squad that could’ve been. It’s based on how they were playing at the time of their grand final appearance. What do you think?
1. Luke Phillips (Roosters 02, 00)
2. Michael Robertson (Manly 11, 08, 07)
3. Luke Williamson (Manly 07)
4. Kevin Walters (Broncos 00, 98)
5. Brett Mullins (Roosters 02)
6. Todd Carney (Roosters 10)
7. Brett Finch (Storm 09, Roosters 04, 03)
8. Brent Kite (Manly 13, 11, 08, 07)
9. Luke Priddis (Panthers 03, Broncos 00)
10. Glenn Lazarus (captain) (Storm 99)
11. Ryan Hinchcliffe (Storm 12, 09)
12. Todd Payten (Tigers 05)
13. Ben Kennedy (Knights 01)
14. Michael Monaghan (Manly 07)
15. Mick Weyman (Dragons 10)
16. Richard Villasanti (Warriors 02)
17. Brenton Lawrence (Manly 13)
18. Mark Bryant (Manly 08, 07)
19. Ben Cross (Storm 07, 06)
20. Jamie Soward (Dragons 10)
21. Rod Jensen (Cowboys 05)
Campo’s dressing down
Raiders skipper Terry Campese is officially the most generous player in rugby league, awarded the NRL’s Ken Stephen Medal during the week for community work which has raised more than $100,000 for his chairtable foundation. Now he’s in the giving mood, time for Campo to fork out for a new dress for his wife Sarah. Campese clumsily tripped up on Sarah’s dress on the red carpet at Tuesday night’s Dally Ms ceremony, tearing it. There are plenty of occasions coming up for Sarah Campese to dress up, with former Raiders Trevor Thurling and Joe Picker engaged to be married in the off-season.