A humble Jaryd Campbell only spoke a few words but it was enough to put things into perspective.
Standing inside the Sea Eagles dressing room at Suncorp Stadium last night, Jaryd said ‘I can’t thank the Manly club and you blokes for what you have done for my family. We will never forget this. Manly forever’
With that, the mood changed. Here they were, the Sea Eagles players – some still in playing gear – realising a heavy loss on the footy field was just that – sure it hurt badly, but it was a game of rugby league.
The man they were embracing had only a few weeks back walked into a church carrying the coffin of his little boy, Roman, who tragically died in a house fire in a Beenleigh house they were renting. It happened on Roman’s second birthday.
Having seen vision of a traumatised Jaryd wearing Sea Eagles colours, Manly acted quickly to offer support. With the assistance of Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper and Logan House Fire Support Network, plans were put in place to do something special for the family.
Yesterday, the Campbell Warwick family - together with two wonderful souls in Louie and Christine from Logan House Fire Support Network - arrived at the team’s hotel to meet the players and coaching staff. Coach Geoff Toovey and Captain Jamie Lyon presented the family – who lost all possessions in the house fire – with some new Sea Eagles merchandise to wear and a signed team jersey.
Then came another surprise, the chance to lead the Sea Eagles onto the field for the clash against the Brisbane Broncos – a club who generously provided tickets to enable the family to attend the game.
Having watched the players warm up from the sideline, it was time to join Jamie to lead the team into battle. The result, a 44-10 loss, was hard to take but the mood changed when the family walked inside the dressing rooms.
Half-back Daly Cherry-Evans took off his bright orange boots, signed them, before handing them to Jaryd. The family were deeply touched.
‘DCE’, a father of two young children, knew what he had experienced over the past few days was very minor to what this family had experienced.
One by one, the players came over to greet the family again. Some apologised for losing, some played with the little kids. Coach Toovey had a photo with the parents.
There were smiles as the family waved goodbye – some for the first time in weeks. Little did they know, they had also innocently lifted the spirits of the beaten players.