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Legends out in force to honour police heroes

Queensland greats and host of NRL and NRLW stars have thrown their support behind police as the community unites for the Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold Memorial Day.

The Queensland Police Service Rugby League Association-run charity day, paying respect to the officers who were ambushed during a routine missing person inquiry at Wieambilla in December, will include three star-studded matches at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Oval on Saturday.

The Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals alone will feature seven former Maroons - Shaun Berrigan, Willie Tonga, Justin Hodges, Dane Carlaw, Jamie Goddard, Petero Civoniceva and Neville Costigan, in a team full of NRL experience against some QPS Legends.

Civoniceva and Carlaw will back up for the QPS All Stars and QPS Dream Team respectively, in a game featuring officers who knew Rachel and Matthew.

The equivalent women’s teams will kick off the day, featuring a host of current and former Queensland and Jillaroos representatives, including Acting Inspector Sam Bliss as vice-captain of the All Stars.

Bliss, an independent director on the QRL Board, said it was an amazing effort by all of the people behind the scenes to organise the day, let alone to see it turn into such a massive televised event involving so many big names.

It is hoped the day can help raise as much money as possible for the Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow Remembrance Fund.

“It’s going to be a great day having the three games there, the QRL supporting the cause and Channel 9 broadcasting all three games," Bliss said.

"No one would have thought that would all be possible. It has actually been quite overwhelming the support it’s receiving."

But she isn’t quite sure how she got the leadership role in what shapes as a fierce contest essentially pitting her metro-based team against a country-based team featuring Steph Hancock as vice-captain.

“That must have come with age, I think. I must be the oldest playing. We’ve got some former Jillaroos in our team and Steph has a few in her team as well,” Bliss said.

Tracey Thompson, Teresa Anderson, Meg Ward and Tazmin Gray join Bliss in the All Stars team, although they will have their work cut out for them.

“We’ve got some age there, but I like to call it experience and we’ll just rely on all the others to do the physical stuff for us," Bliss said.

"But it’s going to be tough, because we’re going to be up against Julia Robinson, who is probably the best winger running around at the moment, and then you’ve got Chelsea Baker, Steph in the front row and their spine is pretty good.

“I’m going to say it will be a good contest. Sometimes there’s a little bit of fun in there but there’s a big rivalry there.”

Senior Constable Steph Hancock, a legend of 17 appearances for Queensland, said there was some “crazy” talent on both sides and laughed off the favourites tag.

“They’ve got a stacked side, so I don’t know what (Bliss) is talking about," Hancock said. 

Hancock said while the two teams would likely “whack the crap out of each other”, she hoped for some fun and sportsmanship leading into the emotional final game of the day.

It will serve as a reminder of the risks police officers put themselves at each day, but also the community at hand to band together in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy," Hancock said.

“On Saturday you’ll see what it means to police officers to be part of a day like this.

“It’s crazy how football and policing are so similar and everyone gets behind and supports any initiative.

“I love how QPS and QRL get together to help whenever we can.”

The day will conclude with live performances from musicians Brad Butcher, Brad Cox and Sammy White and Busby Marou.

Key information

Notable players

Queensland FOGS: Petero Civoniceva, Willie Tonga, Dane Carlaw, Justin Hodges, Jamie Goddard, Shaun Berrigan, Neville Costigan, Matt Bowen

Other former NRL stars: Scott Hill, Sam Tagataese, Dean Widders, Nathan Blacklock, Brenton Bowen, Rob Lui, John Te Reo, Donald Malone, Jamie Simpson, Rod Jensen, Ben Jones, Paul Stephenson, Tyrone Roberts

Queensland/Jillaroos/NRLW stars: Samantha Bliss, Tracey Thompson, Teresa Anderson, Steph Hancock, Chelsea Baker, Meg Ward, Tazmin Gray, Julia Robinson

Gates open



$30 via Ticketek. All proceeds go to the Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow Remembrance Fund.

Where to watch

Channel 9 and 9Now from 1pm


1pm: QPSWRL Dream Team v QPSWRL All Stars

2pm: Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals v QPS Legends

3.30pm: QPS Dream Team v QPS All Stars

From 5.30pm: Live performances from musicians Brad Butcher, Brad Cox and Sammy White and Busby Marou

How to donate

Donations can be made to the following account:

Account name: QPSRLA – Fundraiser 25.02.2023

BSB: 704-052

Account number: 100212207

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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