As the NRL fever rages on, Corey Thompson of Canterbury Bulldogs opens up the tragic incident related to the death of his closest friend, Daniel Pledger.
It was eight weeks ago, Thompson heard the news of his best friend's demise in a trail bike crash near Woolgoolga, located at the north coast of New South Wales.
The 23-year-old Pledger was riding on a bush track with his friends when his motorcycle rammed into a tree, ending up in a fatal accident from whIch there was no chance of survival.
Pledger, who was also an ardent Canterbury fan, was supposed to be at the ground the day Thompson debuted for Bulldogs.
Thompson said, "It meant a lot to run out there for Daniel because he always wanted to come and watch my debut."
"For me and our group of mates, it's been devastating ... We first met in primary school in Brisbane and we'd always stayed in touch. I was shocked. One day, I was surfing with (Bulldogs teammates) Mitch Brown and Trent Hodkinson and I came back to all these missed calls. Then I found out Daniel had died."
"He was a big Bulldogs fan, he always talked about coming down and even filling up the water bottles for us at training."
"The funeral was pretty shocking. I drove to Coffs Harbour with my partner and got a fully-signed Bulldogs jersey from the boys at training."
"I placed it on his coffin ... just to know we are always with him."
He also said, "I was nervous but as the game got closer, guys like Mick Ennis and Frank Pritchard helped settle me."
"Last year in NSW Cup, I had to mark a couple of the bigger boys like BJ Leilua and Yileen Gordon. At 90kg, I'm not the biggest guy, so I just tried to do my best against Vidot."