IT’S the game synonymous with the start of the NRL season – the annual Charity Shield fixture between NRL arch-rivals the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Illawarra Dragons.
To celebrate 35 years of the traditional fixture the game was launched at Stadium Australia today with Dragons legend Craig Young and Rabbitohs legend Peter Tunks – both of whom featured in the first Charity Shield way back in 1982.
Young and Tunks were joined on stage by Rabbitohs head coach Michael Maguire, Greg Inglis, Dragons head coach Paul McGregor and Jason Nightingale.
The game is locked in for a family friendly kick-off time of 4pm on Sunday 19 February.
Coach Maguire is eager to see his team in action ahead of the new NRL season.
“We’re really looking forward to being part of this great fixture again this year, said Maguire.
“The boys have really applied themselves this offseason and we’re excited to implement some of the things we’ve been working on.
“There’s a great mix of age and experience in the squad this season with the young guys providing a lot of energy around the place.”
For the Dragons, coach McGregor knows the importance the traditional game offers his players.
“This is a game steeped in strong tradition,” said McGregor.
“It’s always a tough, competitive match played in a proper competition-like atmosphere and it allows the players to test themselves before the new season.”
The Rabbitohs will be gunning for their fifth consecutive Charity Shield title in 2017 with the Dragons holding a 16-12 advantage since the game was first played.
Proceeds from the match will support the major charities of the two clubs – Souths Cares for the Rabbitohs and the St George and Wollongong Public Hospitals as well as the St George Foundation.
The St George Foundation was founded in 1990 to help build a secure future for disadvantaged children. Since its inception, the Foundation has invested over $25 million in funding programs that enrich the lives of Australian children who are physically, socially or economically disadvantaged.
Souths Cares has delivered enduring and positive change for disadvantaged and marginalised people through inclusive education, employment and health programs since its inception in 2008.
In 2016, Souths Cares delivered over $3million in social impact, and positioned the Rabbitohs as a national leader in community engagement and social impact. In 2016 over 90% of HSC graduates in Souths Cares mentoring programs move into study, training or work; Souths Cares employment programs placed 150 people into employment and ensured 9,000 school children received healthy lifestyle messages.
Keep your eyes peeled for official representatives from both charities running collections on the day of the game.