Though the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship strives to be Australian rugby’s equivalent of New Zealand’s ITM Cup, or South Africa’s Currie Cup, in its current infant stage it simply can’t compete with the longevity and traditions of those competitions.
For an historical element to the NRC, you have to go back to the 2007 Australian Rugby Championship. And when you do go back to the ARC, you find there are only a handful of players still getting around: Saia Fainga’a, Beau Robinson, Josh Holmes, Tom Carter, Dave Dennis, James Hanson, Ben Alexander, Christian Lealiifano, and Frankie Fainifo among a very select group who played in both competitions.
Injured pair Anthony Fainga’a and Benn Robinson would also be card-carrying members, and it’s entirely possible I’ve inadvertently omitted a few, too.
Among all these names, however, there’s one name in a very unique group. Can you name the captain of the ARC-winning Central Coast Rays back in 2007?
It was indeed none other than North Harbour Rays lock, Cameron Treloar.
Though the Rays have moved back down the coast to their more natural northern beaches home, and get around these days in a multi-coloured strip bearing no resemblance at all to their blue and green number from 2007, Treloar still gets a laugh when his club-of-one status is raised.
“Nah, it’s been enjoyable,” Treloar told www.BuildcorpNRC.com.au this week. “It’s been great to get back to the Rays, and obviously I knew a lot of the guys from Warringah, and had played against a few of the Manly guys over the years.”
“It’s funny, most of the guys of my vintage have moved into the coaching ranks; (Rays assistant coaches) Damien Cummings and Julian Huxley I played with and against, and Peter Playford at the Stars. It’s interesting. But I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve enjoyed being back.
Treloar was studying externally for the NSW Police Force while playing fulltime with the NSW Country Eagles last season, and then completed his training at the Academy in Goulburn between January and May this year. He’s been based at Dee Why, on the northern beaches, for five months now, but he admits that there’s still one part of the job he’s still getting used to.
“I hate speaking to people on the phone and saying, ‘It’s Constable Treloar’. I still say ‘it’s Cameron from the Police’,” he says with a laugh.
35-year-old Treloar said that despite the next chapter being very much front and centre in his life this year, he still had a bit of a rugby itch to scratch. “My body had probably retired, but my mind wasn’t quite ready,” he said. And his mind obviously answered when the Rays came calling.
“I hadn’t played any club rugby, and hadn’t done any rugby training for almost a year, and I think the loss of (Glasgow and USA Eagles lock) Greg Peterson, and things were in the works for Ed Gower to head over to (English Premiership club) Saracens, meant [the Rays] were just a bit short of second-rowers,” Treloar explains.
“I’d been keeping reasonably fit, and they called up and asked, and I’d been missing rugby a lot, actually. So I put my hand up straight away, and then almost died in that first game.”
Treloar confirmed that he is now genuinely “two games away from the end of my career,” which will mean his last game is the Rays’ Round 9 clash against NSW Country in Bathurst, who if not for a good old-fashioned miscommunication, he would probably still be playing with in the 2015 Buildcorp NRC.
“It’s funny, I had a bit of a conversation with (Eagles coach) Darren Coleman earlier in the season, and he was under the impression I was retiring and I was under the impression he didn’t want me to play for them. And then when he found out I was playing, he had a blow up, and I had a blow up, and it was good!
“But it is going to be good to go out against them, and I’m going to catch up with some of the boys I played with last year when both teams stay on in Bathurst, and hopefully we get the win and they get in the finals and it’ll be good.”
After a playing career that has taken him to Super Rugby with the NSW Waratahs and the Queensland Reds, abroad to France and Italy, and then to places like Lismore and Dubbo with the Country Eagles, Treloar says the time is definitely right to hang up the boots.
“I’ve loved it. I came back this year to quench that last thirst, and I’m glad I did, because it has told me that mentally, it is time to go.
“It’s a young man’s game, and I’m not young anymore (laughs), and I see some of these guys who were four when I first played First Grade and now they’re out there running rings around me.
“But I have loved it and the career’s been fantastic, and I’ll leave with very happy memories.”
SATURDAY: North Harbour Rays v Queensland Country at Pittwater Rugby Park in Sydney, from 3:00pm AEST. Streamed on www.foxsports.com.au, and with tickets available at the gate.