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Ex-Origin, NRL stars all set for Carl Webb charity game

A charity game in Queensland Maroons legend Carl Webb's name at Kayo Stadium on Saturday aims to ease the burden of motor neurone and Huntington's diseases.

Two teams of former teammates of the 12-game Maroons player, a few adversaries, standout community rugby league volunteers and current and former stars of other sports including rugby union (Piri Weepu), MMA (Mark Hunt) and cricket (Chris Lynn), will come together in MND Legends and Huntington's Legends teams to raise funds and awareness of the two conditions.

The game will kick off at 3pm.

Mt Isa-born Webb, who also played one Test for Australia and 187 NRL games for Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys and Parramatta Eels, revealed in 2020 he had been diagnosed with MND, a debilitating nerve condition with no cure affecting breathing, moving, swallowing and speaking. 

Troy Clarkson was the brainchild behind Saturday's event boasting more than 7000 games of NRL experience and said all the work behind the scenes had been worth it on the back of Webb's excitement, not only for the firebrand's own foundation but to raise awareness for Huntington's.

Huntington's is an inherited condition causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and has affected the family of Clarkson's wife, who has lost her mum and uncle to the disease.


Witnessing NRL legends in their element is truly an unforgettable experience and this charity game offers just that....

Posted by Carl Webb Foundation on Sunday, September 10, 2023

"Carl Webb, when I spoke to him about it, he's going through a bit of a tough time with this disease, but to see him lift about the amount of support and how emotional he's got to see the amount of support from people who doesn't even even know him... it makes it worth all the effort to try and organise it," Clarkson said.

"It's made it worthwhile just to see him excited that all these people are coming together for a really good cause."

The MND Legends will wear a strip inspired by the colours of Queensland and Dalby - where he played his junior footy - while the Huntington's Legends will wear a purple and blue jersey.

"One side is like a Queensland side that played for Queensland or the Broncos or Cowboys... and I've got the NSW and New Zealand international players on the other side," Clarkson said.

"It was good because there was a few NSW players very concerned in our group chat worried they were going to have to wear maroon."

The jerseys will be adorned with images paying tribute to people who have battled the conditions, including Webb depicted scoring his famous try on debut, Clarkson's mother-in-law and Adam Maher, the former Cronulla Sharks, Hull FC and Easts Tigers backrower who died in 2020 aged 47 following his battle with MND.

Petero Civoniceva, who made his debut for Queensland alongside Webb and was in the side for every one of Webb's Origin matches and sole Test, will join the MND Legends.

Civoniceva said he was as in awe of his former teammates' determination to make a difference in the community in the same way he changed the course of the games he played in with his raw talent.

"The thing that stood about him was his strength and his power and he was such a dynamic player and being a young player coming into the Broncos squad, he was just such a standout not just on the field, but off the field as well," Civoniceva said.

"He could do things that other forwards couldn't and I think that try on debut for Queensland typified that. That's where he announced himself to the rugby league world and what a way to do so. I think he bounced off three or four defenders to score that famous try.

"He earned a tremendous amount of respect on the field, but also off the field has a great personality, always had a great way with people that's why so many people have been touched by Carl's story and the battle that he's got ongoing at the moment.

"I'm amazed at the work that Carl and the family and the foundation have undertaken in such a challenging time for Carl... and that's testament to the person that 'Carly' is that despite the challenges and the battles that he has right now, he's thinking about other people."

Andrew McCullough will coach the MND Legends in a special moment for the Dalby lad, who Webb inspired - alongside many others in the Darling Downs - to believe they could reach for the elite level.

"It's obviously a very special day and Troy Clarkson's done great job organising it... the calibre of players there is a true character of what Carl's power was as a player at first and then obviously as a person as well," McCullough said.

"I didn't have a lot to do with Carl personally, but in a sense I owe him a lot because he gave a lot of kids, especially out in the Darling Downs, the confidence to actually believe that they can make it in the NRL.

"So he was that benchmark and the original bloke to sort of put Dalby on the map and get it well known for what it is. There's a lot of good kids coming out of that town now and that's all thanks to Carl and those sort of guys that represented Dalby so well for a long period of time.

Carl Webb (right) celebrating with Dalby after they won the Toowoomba A grand final in September.
Carl Webb (right) celebrating with Dalby after they won the Toowoomba A grand final in September.

"He was not just handy footballer but quite an athletic man for such a big guy, could do a standing back flip, was a good boxer - he's still got all the sprint records at my primary school, so he could certainly do it all.

"He certainly made a lot of himself and he would be really proud of his career and what he's been able to achieve."

The stars on both sides will be joined by a select few volunteers from southeast Queensland clubs.

Currumbin Eagles coaching director Craig McGauley will be out there living a dream alongside the rugby league legends, although the 59-year-old is almost 30 years retired from playing the game.

Craig McGauley
Craig McGauley

"After I get run over by Petero Civoniceva I think I might be wishing that I didn't have such an involvement," McGauley said.

McGauley at least spent plenty of time tackling, playing hooker for Cronulla Caringbah back in the day, and despite growing up a Blues fan admired what Webb brought to the game.

"He was a machine. You've got to admire you got to admire people like that," McGauley said.

"I've always had great admiration for what they do, the Queenslanders, and still do obviously and with this game for Carl Webb and for the charities that support him I'm hoping we can make a difference in the community. The awareness is a big thing."

The day at Kayo Stadium on Saturday starts at 1.30pm with a schoolboys game between Wavell State High School and Carmel College, followed by the MND Legends versus Huntington's Legends at 3pm.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children aged four to 16 and $30 for a family of four; tickets can be purchased via Ticketek.

The Carl Webb Foundation will host their own fundraiser, the sold out Long Long Lunch, at St Lucia Golf Links on October 27 to support their initiatives.

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