Duke and Redmen in union
CALL him durable; call him a game-breaker.
Just don’t call him unreliable.
There’s no doubting Dwayne Duke’s ability on the footy field but it’s off the playing field where questions have been asked about the talented centre’s commitment to the Grafton Redmen in 2011.
Well that question was answered on the weekend when the former Grafton Rhinos first grader made a 700km trek from his home town, Brewarrina, to run out for the Redmen against Wollongbar Alstonville.
“I went to Brewarrina during the week to see family and I told Lloydy (Redmen captain/coach Brad Lloyd) I’d be back for the game, but I think he doubted me a bit,” Duke explained.
“I got back on Friday night and I didn’t want to let the boys down.
“It was my first home game of the season, and I think I’ve found a home.”
Duke is an imposing figure on the footy field.
He can turn a game with his size and fancy footwork, and when it comes to defence not many opposition backs enjoy lining up against him.
But what most people don’t know about Duke is he’s played the 15-a-side game before, way out west where the Barwon meets the Darling River.
The Brewarrina Brumbies compete in the Western Plains zone competition and, according to Duke, the rugby was not for the faint-hearted.
“I played for the Brewarrina Brumbies for three or four years and it was a really strong comp,” Duke says.
“Those Cow Cockies out there are tough and hit hard.
“I also played rugby and league in Moree, and it’s good to be back playing rugby again.”
For Duke his weekends involve putting his wearing knees to the test with rugby on Saturday and league on Sunday, but juggling two codes hasn’t been an issue yet.
“It’s a bit tough playing both games,” Duke admits.
“I told the Shield brothers (Rhinos reserve grade coaches) I’ll have a game here and there, but I’m committed to rugby and I stand by that.”
On the weekend it didn’t take Duke long to stamp his authority on the game.
In fact the gifted inside centre scored with his first touch of the ball.
“I like playing in the backs.
There are a lot more openings.
You can pick three or four holes to run into,” he says.
“There are a lot of nice blokes at the Redmen.
They have taken me in which is good to see even the supporters a lot of people in the crowd have introduced themselves and made me feel at home.”