The NSWRL has thrown its support behind the Mark Hughes Foundation and the annual Beanies for Brain Cancer Round, which enters its third consecutive year in 2018.
Led by NSW True Blue Mark Hughes, alongside Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coaching staff Brad Fittler and Danny Buderus, the round aims to raise awareness and financial support for brain cancer, which is the biggest killer of Australians aged under 40.
As part of the annual venture, beanies will be worn by all players taking the field in Round 12 of the Intrust Super Premiership, before being collected and some handed out at the game. While beanies can be purchased at the Mark Hughes Foundation online shop, they will also be available at three Intrust Super Premiership games: Wyong Roos v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Penrith Panthers v Mounties and Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons.
The 2018 fundraising efforts take on extra significance, following the passing of founder and Rugby League identity Matt Callander, who lost his battle with brain cancer in October last year. Hughes has been impressed by the support shown over three seasons.
"I pledged to Matt it would be a yearly thing and something he can be proud of and work hard to do," Hughes said.
"With his work, he helped the whole Rugby League community unite together as one. They all just supported the cause from grassroots to players at an elite level. It really is an amazing round and he will always be remembered for the work he did."
Anne Callander, wife of Matt, explained that the round is not just about raising money but providing an opportunity for people to tell their story.
"We're giving people a bit of a voice," Anne said. "The true thing about this campaign is that people come and tell you their stories. It's amazing, the support.
"By people buying a beanie and coming and talking to you, they're really just saying 'we love this.' It's out there and everyone is talking about it and that's what Mark is really trying to achieve to get people to talk about brain cancer."
Another NSW True Blue, Paul Harragon, is expecting a big show of support for the cause in 2018.
"To see the boys run out of the stadiums this weekend with their beanies on and the crowd with their beanies on, these guys (Anne and Mark) right here must feel so wonderful because support is what makes the world go around," Paul said.
"It's a little bit of magic, it's wonderful."