Fittler back in action
By MITCHELL DALE
STOP the presses: Rugby league legend Brad Fittler has not played his final match.
Fittler hung up the boots after his Sydney Roosters lost this year's NRL grand final to Canterbury, but has been coaxed out of retirement to play in the Orara Valley sevens tournament on January 22-23.
Fittler will take the field for the star-studded Barbarians side, the brainchild of former Orara Valley and Test prop Mark Carroll.
"Freddy had just come back from an overseas holiday when I rang him and asked if he wanted to play in a sevens tournament with me," Carroll said.
"The first thing he asked was whether it was touch or tackle.
"I told him all he and Cliffy (Lyons) have to do is catch and pass; MG (Mark Geyer) and I will do all the tackling."
Fittler and former international centre Ryan Girdler are the latest additions to Carroll's Barbarians side, which reads like a who's who of rugby league.
As well as Fittler and Girdler, Carroll has enlisted the services of former Test players Geyer, Lyons, Brad Mackay, Rod Wishart and Nik Kosef, while NRL veterans Sean Garlick, Owen Cunningham, Darren Brown, Jack Elsegood and Jason Death make up the 13-man squad.
Orara Valley club president Kevin Elks said the presence of the Barbarians, who have crossed for a combined 631 first grade tries and notched 4684 points, will be a major draw card for the tournament.
"The chance to play against this side will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Elks said.
"It should make competing in the sevens a must for serious rugby league players and officials."
Carroll echoed Elks' opinion.
"Have a look at all the internationals in the line-up, it's a pretty good side," Carroll said.
"It will be good for the local community to get out there and see some of the so-called stars of the NRL.
"But I'm sure we will be a bit rusty. I know I'll need about three cans of WD-40 for each match."
Carroll has just one request for his return to Coramba.
"I am really looking forward to going back, but hopefully they will put some grass on the field this time," he joked.