Running on to the turf for the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday 25 April will be particularly special for Mitch Inman.
The robust centre will join his Rebel comrades to contest the Weary Dunlop Shield against the Waratahs on the day that marks 100 years since the first major military action by the ANZACs during the First World War, an occasion that clearly resonates with the 26-year-old.
“It’s a pretty special day to pay respect to the soldiers. They gave us our freedom to live in the beautiful country we live in today off the back of their toil and some pretty brutal wars.”
As a minute’s silence falls on the crowd at ANZ Stadium ahead of the match on ANZAC evening there’s a few heroes in particular that Inman will be remembering.
“My Dad fought in Vietnam and my Grandfather fought in Papua New Guinea.
“My father was conscripted at about 22 (years-of-age) and did a year of training at Holsworthy before becoming a Private and fighting in Vietnam.
“He passed away, when I was about 19, of cancer. He was 56. It’s strange as a lot of his mates who fought with him in Vietnam also died in their 50s.”
Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam with more than 500 passing away as a result of the war, while over 3,000 were wounded. For many, it remains a difficult topic of conversation.
“He didn’t really talk too much about it, neither did my Pop. But I studied the Vietnam War in Year 12 for my HSC so I used that to try to piece it all together with the American and Australian involvement,” Inman said.
“I asked my Dad a few questions after that and he was happy to answer them, and started opening up a bit more about it.”
The ANZAC courage, mateship, perseverance and humility certainly were not lost in the tales that Inman learned.
“He got hit with some shrapnel during a helicopter raid a few months in to his service. They sent him to hospital and wanted to send him home but he wanted to stay to finish off his service.
“It was pretty brave of him to stay given he had the option to home, but chose instead to fight on with his mates.
“My Pop was a pretty humble guy, he never marched. He would go to the RSL and was a member of the RSL, but wasn’t really into into marching on ANZAC Day as he didn’t really like it, I don’t know why, and neither did my Dad.”
The match between the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels in Sydney is the only Australian derby match taking place during the ANZAC Centenary weekend with free entry for all current servicemen and women.
“It’s a pretty memorable and special event in Australian culture so it’s good that servicemen are allowed in for free to the game, it’s the least we can do,” Inman said.
“It’s also a pretty memorable day for my family. They’ll all be at the game which will be nice.”
A percentage of all tickets sold to the match will go to Legacy Australia, a charity that provides services to Australian families suffering financially and socially after the incapacitation or death of a spouse or parent, during or after their defence force service.
The game will also feature a short ceremony conducted by members of the Australian Defence Force, an Australian Naval Band performance as well as The Ode, The Last Post, one minute’s silence and The Reveille to commemorate the ANZACs.
The Weary Dunlop Shield, contested between the NSW Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels, is named after Colonel Sir Ernest Edward "Weary" Dunlop, AC, CMG, OBE (12 July 1907 - 2 July 1993) who was not only a nationally recognised hero in regards to his service for the Australian Army, but was also the first Victorian to play Rugby for the Wallabies (having been born in Wangaratta).