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Competition - NYC Premiership

Round - Round 05

Teams - Parramatta Eels V Penrith Panthers

Date - 3rd of April 2016

Venue - Pirtek Stadium, Sydney NSW

Photographer - Robb Cox

Pirtek Stadium hosted 428 NRL games and countless memorable moments since 16 March 1986, where Parramatta defeated St George 36-6 in the first top-grade game at the venue.

This Sunday, the final three games will be played at the famous venue when Mounties play Illawarra in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Final, and the Mounties Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield side’s take on St Marys and East Campbelltown, respectively.

Brad Drew played two seasons at hooker for Parramatta in their 2001 Grand Final side, as well as 2002, and is hoping to create one last memory as the coach of the St Marys Ron Massey Cup Grand Final team.

“It’s just about enjoying the occasion, it’s a great stadium to play at for those that haven’t played here before, so I’ll soak it up and enjoy it,” Drew tells

“The players I played with and the fans were great, we obviously had a bit of success when I was here and just the enjoyment, it was a special place.

“Everyone got along, all the players worked hard and we all got along great, so the memories are fantastic, I have friends for life from here and that still work here.”

To have played two seasons with the Parramatta faithful behind him at the great stadium is one thing, but enjoying the ride of the record-breaking Eels of 2001 is another memory in itself.

That team was arguably the best club side to not win the premiership, but the year in itself was remarkable.

“It was special, fantastic memories here for myself, I’ve always loved playing here, whether I was the opposing side or here [at Parramatta],” Drew says.

“It was always a fantastic ground to play on so look I’m really honoured to be a part of the last game here.

“Hopefully there’s a bit of an omen there and there might be a reason, but we’ll wait and see Sunday.”

St Marys entered the Ron Massey Cup competition for the first time since 2003, highlighting that Drew and his players have already achieved so much for a new team.

It’s a team boosted with the inclusion of ex-NRL player Geoff Daniela, who has played a pivotal part in steering the side to the Grand Final.

Drew insists his players are going to enjoy the occasion.

“Once you get out there it’s just another field and you get out there and do what you need to do,” Drew explains.

“We’re just all going to enjoy it, it’s a great achievement for the club to be here being the first year in this competition.

“We’ll take a lot out of it regardless of the result, we’ll be here to do our best to try and win and if it doesn’t go our way we can look back at the season with success for sure.”

Witness history this September at the 2016 NSWRL Grand Final Day. On Sunday, 25 September the Intrust Super Premiership NSW decider, along with the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield Grand Finals, take place at Pirtek Stadium, with tickets just $10 for adults and kids under 12 free. Click here to secure your seat.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales 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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