August 5, 2019
A very important message was shared at the end of the senior rugby league game played in Cherbourg on Saturday afternoon … and it wasn’t the final score.
The match was between the Cherbourg Hornets and Wondai Wolves, two teams that have been hit hard by tragedies in their junior ranks during recent times.
A special guest on the sidelines was former Titans, Panthers and Sharks NRL star Preston Campbell.
Preston, who retired at the end of the 2011 season, was in the South Burnett to speak at Murgon State High School and present the NRL’s State of Mind program at the Cherbourg JRL Sports Complex on Friday night.
This program aims to tackle the stigma around mental illness, increase understanding and encourage all players, referees, volunteers and supporters to seek help.
Preston told southburnett.com.au the visit had been scheduled in advance and he would have understood completely if the clubs had decided to postpone it in the wake of recent deaths.
However, the decision was made to go ahead with the planned Suicide Awareness Round despite the shock and sadness in the local community.
Preston, who has fought depression himself, said he wanted to encourage young people to speak up and ask for help.
He shared this message at the end of the game when he presented the inaugural Suicide Awareness Shield.
“No doubt it’s a tough time for the community, for the whole area,” Preston said. “I wish I was here in better circumstances.
“Everyone has been touched by suicide, by mental health and it shouldn’t be swept under the carpet any more.”
He said young men and women felt like they were alone, but this wasn’t the case.
“The reason I do what I do is to help people be brave and speak out,” he said.
“Let’s keep these young girls and boys alive.”
Cherbourg Council CEO and Hornets club president Warren Collins said he hoped the shield would be contested annually between the Wolves and Hornets.
“Both of our clubs, families and communities have been devastated during recent times,” Warren said.
“We thought it would be fitting to play for the Suicide Awareness Shield. I hope we can continue this tradition between the two clubs.”
The game began with the release of yellow balloons.
Despite being down in numbers, Wondai put up a game fight and were behind just 16-10 midway through the first half.
But several length-of-the-field runs by the Hornets’ Errol Simpson and Malachi Wallace soon put paid to any Wolves’ ambitions.
For the record, the Hornets were ahead 66-16 when the game was called off late in the second half.
In the other A Grade rugby league game, played in Kingaroy on Friday night, the Mustangs defeated the Red Ants 34-22.
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