Harlequins RL players and England squad members Tony Clubb and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook are eager to pay their respect to Garry Purdham in the Cumbria v England memorial match at Whitehaven’s Recreation Ground on Sunday October 3.
Named in Steve McNamara’s initial fall-out squad for the Four Nations tournament, both players are team-mates of Garry’s brother Rob Purdham, who will captain the Cumbria side, and they tell SLTV just how much this match means to them.
“It’s definitely going to be emotional going into the game,” said Clubb. “We have been playing with Rob for four years at Quins and he is a very good bloke.
“Knowing him like we do and now having the chance to play against him would be a good opportunity for us and we are really looking forward to it.”
“I can’t wait to play against him,” said McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who will join St Helens next season. “His parents will be in the crowd along with Ros and the kids, so it will be nice to go out there and to show our respect to Garry.
“It was such a shock for all of us when it happened, we just couldn’t believe it, and I don’t even think Rob himself could believe it. It’s one on those crazy incidents that happened and it shocked us.
“We have got such a good team spirit down in the South and I think Rob wanted us to carry on, which we did in the next game, for him.
“We had to get on with it for Rob, we had to show that we were strong for him and I think he appreciated that.”
Garry Purdham’s three former clubs, Egremont Rangers, Whitehaven and Workington Town, have formed a committee to organise the match with all proceeds going to Garry’s young family and the England hopefuls know the importance of the memorial game.
“The game is massive for Cumbria,” said Clubb. “I think what Rugby League has done for Ros and the kids is outstanding.
“The whole of England and the whole of Rugby League have come together for them for Ros and the Purdham family. It’s great for them and absolutely outstanding. We are definitely expecting a tough contest.”
McCarthy-Scarsbrook added: “England against Cumbria is always going to be a good match.
“A couple of the Quins boys are playing like Oliver Wilkes and Rob Purdham and we cannot wait to get involved. They are such good team mates and it will be an emotional day but definitely one to watch.”
England training sessions have already begun and head coach Steve McNamara is anticipating a big match and an emotional day in Cumbria.
“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to everybody involved in Rugby League,” said McNamara.
“We have been sat at home watching the tragic circumstances unfold and eventually Garry’s name came out as one of the people that suffered up there and it’s absolutely dreadful.
“This game is an important part of England’s preparation but it pales into insignificance in terms of the importance for the Purdham family and the people in Cumbria.
“I know Rob from the 2008 World Cup as one of the players when I was assistant coach, he is a smashing young man and I don’t know anyone with a bad word to say about him.
“I think for everyone involved that knew Rob was really sad but then when you see what Garry has left behind in terms of his wife and kids, it really hits home.
“I was really unexpected and any financial or emotional support that the Rugby League community can provide we are more than willing to do.
“I have spoken to the players at our first training session and they are all really keen and intent on going up there and playing a good game but doing all of the right things for the family.
“We are working on encouraging as many people as we can to get there and raise as much money as we possibly can.
“We will need meet their determination and come out very aggressive ourselves to put on a performance that I am sure Garry would be proud of.”
The fall-out squad that will be training in preparation for the Four Nations will increase as teams are knocked out of the Engage Super League play-offs. A strong side will represent England in their final warm-up game on home soil against Cumbria with all the England squad members taking part except those players that will be involved in the Engage Super League Grand Final the day before.