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The ‘Big Marn’ joins Ronny Gibbs roadshow in Bourke and Bre

Darryl Brohman at the Ronny Gibbs 7s last week with local personalities, Louise Brown and Patricia Canty. Photos TWH

NRL legend and television personality, Darryl ‘The Big Marn’ Brohman, has a passion for his sport that runs deep, far beyond the playing field and the commentary team.

Darryl was in Bourke last week for the Ronny Gibbs 7s football gala with a production crew, making a series of short documentaries for the NRL’s online digital platform.

The aim of the trip west was to highlight the commitment of people in the bush to the sport they love, often against enormous adversity.

The ‘Big Marn’ said he was astounded to hear the sacrifice of families and coaches to get youngsters to training and competition across great distance and with little support and he hoped the documentaries would encourage more backing from ‘the big end of town’ for kids in the bush.

“The NRL decided they wanted to promote what was going on outside Sydney and so decided to do a regional tour covering the Ronnie Gibbs 7s with a four-person crew and I was asked to do it because of the segment I used to do for the Footy Show - ‘Small Talk with The Big Marn’,” he said.

“That was a popular segment, when I talked to kids about all sorts of things relating to footy and the kids were absolutely a big part of why we went to Bourke and Brewarrina last week.

“It was about having a look at what’s going on with the Ronny Gibbs 7s and what’s happening in country football for both the women and men’s competitions.

“We started in Brewarrina with a clinic on the Monday and then went to Bourke Monday night for three nights.

“I came away with no doubt about the love of league in country towns, and that those places are the heartbeat of the NRL.

“The documentaries are warts and all - I don’t know how the material will cut up and I know I was pretty tired by the end of it, but there was a lot of great stuff there, and it will tell the story about sacrifice that country people go through to get themselves and their kids to footy.

“League is such a big part of life out in the far west and it’s the lifeblood of what goes on.

“Just the distances people have to travel - one team at the 7s footy gala travelled in a bus to Bourke for four and a half hours and the kids slept in blankets on the wooden floors at the school.

“The commitment of grandparents who travelled all that way just to see their grandson play - it was beautiful and in some ways a bit sad.

“It was sad because there wasn’t enough involvement from parents and I understand they’ve got to work and put food on the table, but I would have liked to have seen more parents there to support their kids,” Darryl said.

The Ronnie Gibbs 7s was celebrating 25 years of the event, with 13 footy teams and several netball teams competing in the gala event at Davidson Oval on Wednesday after the clinics in Brewarrina and Bourke, with several NRL stars making the trip west to add their weight to the coaching clinics.

Darryl said the event was vital to keeping league alive into the future and said he hoped there were others in the wings ready to take over from Ronny.

“There are so many people who volunteer, and you can’t let those people go,” he said. “Ronny Gibbs has been doing it for 25 years and he can’t last forever so we need others to carry on what he’s doing.

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