By Erick Elefante, Date 16/01/2014
For many Filipino-Australians and Rugby League supporters in Australia and probably the world, Filipino involvement in “The Greatest Game of All” commenced on the 13th March 1998, when Craig Wing stepped onto Mt Smart Stadium for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, to play against the Auckland Warriors!
But over a decade and a half before Craig Wing’s first NRL appearance, in the 1984 NSW Rugby League season, Ben Gonzalez born in the Philippines of Spanish Mestizo parents played 19 games for the Penrith Panthers and scored 5 tries for the season.
He played another 3 seasons with the Panthers in 1985 where he played 25 games and scored 11 tries and again in 1986 and 1987, playing 73 games in total, for 23 tries.
Considering Ben’s performance for the Panthers over his 4 years playing there. It was not a surprise that when the new Gold Coast Rugby League franchise the Gold Coast-Tweed Giants formed in 1988 he was considered one of their key recruits.
Between, 1988 to 1991 Ben played 58 times for the Gold Coast and scored 12 tries.
In February 2005 with the Gold Coast Dolphins vying for a new NRL franchise, 16-year-old Blayze Gonzales, the son of former Panthers and Gold Coast winger Ben Gonzalez, who played lock for Tugun, in the Queensland’s southern division competition was considered a key signing for this proposed new club, mirroring his father’s achievement with the earlier Gold Coast-Tweed Giants if the franchise came into being.
Moving forward to January 18, 2014, Blayze Gonzalez who now plays for the Tweed Heads Seagulls has been given an opportunity his Father Ben never had due to the non existence of a Philippines National side at the time, but now his son will be playing for the PAL Tamaraws, Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) International team against the Latin Heat.
In exactly 3 decades since 1984 when Ben Gonzalez stepped onto a Rugby League field in Australia his son Blayze steps out in 2014 for his country of heritage to represent the Philippines in a historic game of International Rugby League. Continuing the Gonzalez bloodline in “The Greatest Game of All”!
For those wanting to meet Blayze Gonzales and support the PAL Tamaraws, Philippines National team and meet Filipino-Australian NRL heroes Kevin Gordon and Matt Srama of the Gold Coast Titans. Come along to the International game against the Latin Heat on the 18th January at the Runaway Bay Rugby League Football Club, on Morala Ave, Runaway Bay, Gold Coast, for a 7:00pm kick off!
Philippine Airlines Philippine Tamaraws Team List
1.Will Dreves – Mounties
2.Jeremiah Alimpulos – Pine Central Holy Spirit
3.Dennis Gordon – Gold Coast Breakers RUFC
4.Blayze Gonzalez – Tweed Heads Seagulls
5.Carlo Alinboyong – Southport Tigers
6.Paul Sheedy – Tweed Coast Raiders
7.Ashley Black – Noosa Pirates
8.Glen Power – St. Claire Comets
9.Luke Srama – The Entrance Tigers
10.Arwin Marcus – Tweed Coast Raiders
11.Jason Dreves – Picton RLFC
12. Steven Tolo -Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles
13. Robert Geraghty – Eden Tigers
14.Scott Sandaga – Fairfield United
15.Micah Hines – Booval Swifts
16.James Marcus – Tweed Coast Raiders
17.James Webb – Western Suburbs Magpies
Coach: Clayton Watene
Assistant Coach: Mark De Ubago
Manager: Marc Leabres
Strapper: Mervn Heka
Leaguesafe: Kevin Gordon
Water Runner: Brain West, Carl Denhard
Stats: Steven Bernstrom