FORMER Launceston skipper Lloyd Duke admits he’s ‘a little bit embarrassed by it’ as the club prepare to host his testimonial this afternoon (3pm).
Duke stepped down as club captain this summer – a role he has held since 2016 – and has been rewarded with the afternoon which will see proceeds split between Brain Tumour Research and the MND Association.
Duke is set to carry on in a playing capacity, but will first turn out as part of his team against the current club members with Launceston using it as their opening outing of pre-season.
He is part of a squad of primarily former players and current players at other clubs, and admits he cannot wait.
Talking earlier this week, he said: “I’m very excited for Saturday, mostly because I’m getting the chance take the field with guys that have been involved in awesome memories for me on and off the field over the last 14 years and I’m hoping Saturday will be another good story to tell!
“As far as the day being organised, I think it was a case of giving up the captaincy over the summer a couple of people decided it was a good time to celebrate the end of that chapter.
“I feel a little embarrassed by it as there have been plenty that have gone before that have done ten years plus, but I was reminded by someone recently that if we want traditions to start they have to start somewhere, so hopefully this will lead on to other boys being celebrated when they have been a long-standing servant of the club.”
Amongst those taking part are players from Okehampton and Wadebridge Camels.
Duke continued: “The squad is mainly guys I’ve played with in a black jersey over the last 14 years, they include the likes of Bruce Pow and Steve Perry that were both playing in my debut back in December 2009, plus former captains Ben Hilton and Richard Friend and 200-game stalwart Josh Lord who always has a good tan.
“There are also a few guys that I always respected how they played when playing against them in Richard Bolt and Dan Fogerty of Okehampton and councillor Dicky Dawe, Rich Treleavan and Matt Ballard of Wadebridge.
“There were many others who couldn’t play through other commitments or bodies being broken, but I think we have a squad full of great guys hoping to put on a good show.
“We have deliberately not picked any of the current Launceston squad, so we should have a good high-quality contest.
“Also when putting the squad together and reflecting back, you realise just how lucky I have been.
“I am a dairy farmer that plays rugby for fun and I have been fortunate enough to play with some of the best players to grace Polson Bridge and make some truly awesome friendships.”
While the rugby is the main part of the day, raising funds for two incredible charities is even more important.
Duke said: “We have chosen to support MND and the Brain Tumour Research because they are both massively worthy causes.
“Brain Tumour Research is obviously very close to home with one of our own in Chae Jenkins been affected by it. A guy that I have great memories of, massive carries away to Thornbury the year we got promoted, arguably winning us that game, and obviously standing alongside him in that play off winning team back in 2019.
“MND, in rugby circles especially has been brought into the public eye in recent years through Doddie Weir then Rob Burrow. They are guys that are inspirational and to think that this game can help resource against this horrible disease should give everyone involved a big sense of pride.”
Duke had a message for the supporters, who as they often do, are set to swarm to Polson Bridge.
He said: “Over all these years we have always been so well supported, and for those that I haven’t seen in the bar over the years, I thank you all.
“We have always had one of the highest crowds of any league we have played in and I have always been very proud to represent you all.
“I look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.”