NRL 2022: Melbourne Storm rookie Grant Anderson scored a double on debut

Sid Williams scored the only try of the game, as Peter Provan’s Tigers beat a stacked Rabbitohs coached by Clive Churchill and featuring John Sattler, Bob McCarthy, Ron Coote and Eric Simms.

But on Saturday night, Sparks ended the long wait for another game at one of Australia’s most famous sporting cathedrals to watch Anderson make an 11th-hour debut for the Storm after Xavier Coates’ injury in State of Origin.

I can’t express how thrilled I was. There were some times I was that excited, I had to sit down

Neville Sparks

“It was one of the greatest days in my 97 years,” Sparks said. “It was colossal. He worked his bum off, he’s done everything right and the Knights didn’t want him. He never shirked it. He deserves what he got.

“I can’t express how thrilled I was. There were some times I was that excited, I had to sit down. My eyesight is going a bit and I’ve got to be careful where I walk. But I can’t explain the thrill that goes through you when he scored that try. It was unbelievable.

“Having known him since he was a kid, this was his ambition and he fulfilled it – and then scored a try. When I came home, I couldn’t sleep.”

Long time between drinks … action from the 1969 grand final between South Sydney and Balmain – the last game Nevilla attended at the SCGCredit:John O’Gready

Anderson’s parents drove Sparks to the game in Sydney on short notice after Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy told the outside back he would be making his debut.

Anderson was working as a carpenter when he was asked during the COVID-19 pandemic if he wanted to relocate to Cairns to further his career with the Northern Pride.

A chance popped up to join the Sunshine Coast Falcons this year, and with it came a small window to train with the Storm during pre-season.

He did enough to impress Bellamy and the Storm’s general manager Frank Ponissi that when an outside backs crisis struck the club, he was whisked to Sydney to take on the Roosters.


And his biggest supporter wasn’t going to miss the game.

Sparks would often walk across the road to help Anderson’s family with household chores like the washing, and berate the kids for leaving the clothes all over the floor.

“Heath and Lorraine had to work and they would have a line full [of washing], so I’d get it and fold it up to save them a job,” Sparks said. “They adopted my wife and myself into their family.

“The boys used to come over and play league with me so I could be the fourth one. They used to belt the s— out of me. I thought it was only going to be touch football and I had to knock off in the end.

“Wherever Grant plays, I’m behind him. I love him to death, mate. They include me in everything they do and if there’s anything I want, I only have to ask them and it would be done. I couldn’t do anything but love them. They never walk out of the house without saying, ‘we love you, Nevvy’.

“That’s something a lot of people don’t do.”

Stream the NRL Premiership 2022 live and free on 9Now.

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