IN a heart-warming gesture, players in Sunday's under-20s match between the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta will contest the Chad Robinson Cup for the first time.
Two of Robinson's former teammates, Sydney Roosters legend Anthony Minichiello and Parramatta stalwart Luke Burt, proudly unveiled the new silverware.
Robinson, who played 159 NRL matches during stints at the Eels and Roosters, was reported missing last November before being found dead in his car on December 22. He had been suffering from depression. There were no suspicious circumstances.
"It was so sad for Chad's family and everyone involved,” Minichiello said. "It was something I didn't know was that serious with Chad.
"It is a big problem in society these days. Especially with men, they tend to keep things in and think it's a weakness but there are great programs out there - and the NRL is also helping - to try and get rid of that stigma.
"Chad was a great player, someone you wanted in your side because he was such a great defender and cleaned up a lot of things commentators didn't see.
"Chad was with us in the early 2000s when we won the premiership in 2002. We didn't have an inkling of it (depression).”
Minichiello is pleased Robinson's name will live on through the Cup.
"He played a lot of games for Parramatta and the same with us,'' he said. "It's only fitting we organise a cup in his name.”
Robinson's shock death broke rugby league's heart. He was a 36-year-old father of two who was universally liked and respected.
"I grew up playing with and against Chad and was quite close to his family,” said Burt, the Eels' under-20s coach. "It was sad and shocking to see. You look back on it now and wish he talked about it and sought help.”
The NRL game on Sunday will be for the Jack Gibson Cup, which is named after the super coach who led both clubs to premierships in the 1970s and 1980s.
With the NYC to be scrapped next year, officials will consider awarding the Chad Robinson Cup to the man of the match in Roosters-Parramatta games. The Jack Gibson Cup was introduced in 2008, the year Gibson passed away.
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