Thursday night’s rugby encounter witnessed Manly devotee Jake Trbojevic come to his younger brother Ben’s defence – an act reminiscent of Brett Stewart’s defence of his brother Glenn at the iconic Battle of Brookvale. When Ben bumped up against Nathan Brown, a notable hothead from the Sydney Roosters, Jake, who is typically one of the more composed forwards in the game, charged in to incite Brown, ensuing a separation of the pair.
On Monday, Sea Eagles players confided that they had almost never seen Jake sprint as quickly as he had. They expressed admiration for Jake’s unwavering loyalty to his kin and comrades.
Jake’s sprint was described best by Aaron Woods, a prop for the team, who said, “Jake is the best, I’ve never seen him move that fast, and as a team, it was enthralling to see – to see him defend his younger brother”. Woods also humorously noted that Jake isn’t the fighting kind, but rather, he’d blindside you with a tackle before helping you up, all the while complimenting your game.
He added, “His defensive aggression is praiseworthy, but what he did that night, standing up to ‘Browny’, is a stern admonition that you don’t meddle with his family.”
For his part, Ben acknowledged his elder brother’s support, stating, “Jake is an earnest player, and seeing his younger brother confronted, he instinctively came to my aid”. He went as far as calling Nathan Brown‘s physicality an accident in an attempt to leave a mark on the game, which he succeeded in doing for the brief stint of 20 seconds that he partook on the field.
Recalling the incident, he said, “Brown’s collision was notably stronger than my response.” However, Ben had to be mollified as fellow players rushed in before Brown was sent off the field.
The infamous incident that saw Brett Stewart leaping to his brother Glenn’s defence, when skirmishing with Melbourne forward Adam Blair enroute to the sin-bin in 2011, similarly transcended the sporting field.
This already challenging feat might spiral out of hand as injuries claim Matt Lodge (knee), Josh Aloiai (shoulder) and Taniela Paseka (knee). It means that Jake Trbojevic, Woods, and Toafofoa Sipley will be expected to face off against one of the most nimble squad-packs in the game.
However, Woods also vouched for the club’s decision to continue Lodge’s contract, even as he faces a likely absence owing to an ACL rupturing in the first half of the 2024 season. Aaron endorsingly stated, “Since joining us, he’s already made significant contributions to the club, being among our top three performers in his first two matches, which is why his injury is such a blow.” He added, “It’s his off-field contributions that really matter. Having previously played in several efficient systems, he’s adept at ushering our younger players on how to learn and grow.”