By Matt Cleary
FROM 1963 to 1978, Bob McCarthy played 211 games for South Sydney Rabbitohs and 40 games for Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (nee Berries). And it’s safe to say no-one had seen anything like him.
A solidly-built back rower, McCarthy was the first forward to dominate wide of the ruck, effectively running like a centre-three-quarter but built like a bullock. He scored 100 tries for Souths and won four premierships, and scored 21 tries in two seasons at Canterbury.
As McCarthy’s 16-season career ended, so began that of Steve Mortimer, who was closely followed to Belmore Oval (from Wagga Wagga) by brothers Peter and Chris.
Steve was the champion halfback with a brilliant chip-and-chase and the game’s best grass-cutting cover defence.
Centres Peter and Chris formed a potent and complementary pairing – skilful, fleet-footed, robust.
The trio would win premierships with Canterbury in 1980, 1984 and 1985 while Steve’s last game was off the bench in the Dogs’ grand final win in 1988.
The brothers all represented NSW (Steve and Chris also played for Australia) and would play a combined 715 first grade games.
Another brother, Glen, played 26 games for Cronulla while Steve was a distinguished Stadium Australia board member for several years.
It’s fitting, then, that on Saturday night the Rabbitohs and Bulldogs will play for the Mortimer-McCarthy Cup, which will raise money for the Family of League Foundation.
Bulldogs chief Aaron Warburton said the club is “forever indebted” to the services of McCarthy and the Mortimer family.
“The Mortimer-McCarthy Cup is a fitting tribute to the Mortimer brothers and Bob McCarthy, who represent an era of rugby league that was tough, honest, and built on mateship.
“We are a community club and we are proud to play a small role in helping raise funds and awareness for the brilliant work that the Family of League does,” Warburton said.
The round 19 fixture will be the teams’ first hit-out since Souths ran riot 50-16 on Good Friday.
The Dogs will be keen to erase memories of last week’s 66-0 hammering by Newcastle.
South Sydney, meanwhile, sit seventh on the ladder, and will need a win to maintain contact with the Top-8 front-runners.
As ever there’ll be many eyes on speed machines Alex Johnston (Rabbitohs) and Josh Addo-Carr (Bulldogs).
Johnston is currently equal-third with Steve Menzies on the all-time try-scorers list with 180 tries.
He is also the leading all-time try-scorer at Accor Stadium with 84 tries in 87 games.
Addo-Carr has scored 21 tries in 19 games at the stadium including a stunning six tries while playing for Melbourne Storm against Souths in 2021.
Before the match there’ll be a function to support men, women and children of the grassroots rugby league community who need physical, financial or emotional support.
The dinner is officially sold out but donations can be made via the Family of League website.
For all match-day information including transport and ticketing, click here.
South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Saturday 08 July
4:55pm: Gates Open
5:10pm: Kick Off: Knock-On Effect NSW Cup – Rabbitohs v Bulldogs
7:35pm: Kick Off: NRL Telstra Premiership – Rabbitohs v Bulldogs