Chances are, if you're misbehaving on Canterbury’s public transport, you're going to find yourself on the wrong side of one of the Bulldogs’ greatest ever players.
‘Rocket’ Rod Silva, one of Canterbury’s most-loved stars and one of the finest fullbacks of the 1990s, runs the policing of the public transport around the Bankstown area - including the trainline that runs behind Belmore Oval, where he earned a cult following.
“I’m team leader to 10 or 12 cops, in the Bankstown area – the Sydenham to Liverpool line, and we look after public transport and safety,” Sergeant Silva, who played 192 NRL games during stints at the Roosters and Bulldogs, tells NSWRL.com.au.
“Occasionally Bulldogs fans come up to me and say g’day. It’s a pretty good place to work (laughs).”
A proud Aboriginal, Silva has also played a significant role in NSW Koori sides over many years, taking up coaching roles to give the next generation of gifted kids a helping hand – on and off the field.
“(Veteran NSWRL Indigenous Programs employee) Steve ‘Bear’ Hall got me involved with the Koori under-16s side a long time ago,” Silva says.
“It was a great experience but the group just got so big I just couldn’t handle it any more. I’ve been involved with the Koori Nines at the Cabramatta Nines since about 2013. It’s a nice compromise.
“All my ancestors are Aboriginal – my great grandparents, my grandparents and so on. My mum’s from Moree and my father’s from Kempsey. The last name (Silva) is Portuguese I think, but we’re not totally sure where that comes in.
“That background, that’s why I got involved with the Koori side. I feel privileged to be asked.”
Silva this weekend coaches a NSWRL Koori Nines side to play at the Cabramatta International Nines tournament.
“It really means something to us. It’s not the NRL, but it’s a good level and there have been some players picked up from the tournament,” he says.
“I’m really happy to be involved. Andrew Walker, who was a fantastic player and still is, has played, so too (Yileen) 'Buddy' Gordon and Braidon Burns.”
Silva, who possessed the slickest footwork in the game during his heyday in addition to a sharp-as-a-razor flattop, still keeps a close eye on his beloved Bulldogs - and expects great things in 2018.
“I’m still involved as an ambassador. I still love the club,” Silva says.
“I think Dean Pay was a great choice [as Canterbury’s NRL head coach], and I think (former assistant coach) Jim Dymock would’ve been too. Both are great men. I feel a little sorry for Jimmy because he’s done his apprenticeship for so long, but Dean’s an excellent man for the job.
“I think we’ll see a much harder and more successful Bulldogs side this year. I’m looking forward to seeing how they fare.
“I don't have [the flattop] anymore though (laughs). I like the short back and sides now. My mate’s wife called [the haircut] a 'helmet' – the middle-eastern brothers loved it… but I eventually had to get rid of it. My barber, also a middle-eastern brother, puts the part in it like the cool kids nowadays anyway. It’s good.”
For the moment, though, Silva’s attention isn’t on the Bulldogs… or his work. It’s on his Koori Nines, and how he can help make their collective futures brighter.
“I’m just happy to help out, to assist in making the lives of today’s kids a little easier than when we were growing up,” he says.
“I experienced a bit of racism growing up, it was a little difficult at times, so if we can do what we can to empower today’s youth, the future can only be brighter. I’m honoured to be involved.”