Rugby league immortal Mal Meninga has experienced plenty in his life as a player, coach, father, and even as a police officer in his early years... but nothing could prepare him for his recent trip to northern New South Wales.
The Gold Coast high performance senior advisor joined club chairman Dennis Watt and Titans staff touring Lismore and surrounding areas to see the overwhelming devastation, hear the harrowing tales of survival and help flood-ravaged communities in one of footy's biggest heartlands.
"It was very confronting and my experience was... very humbling," Meninga said.
"I met a lot of people at the evacuation centre which was fantastic because the spirit in that place was enormous. They’ve gone through so much trauma and hardship and just listening to their stories... certainly with ears wide open and my heart wide open was a fantastic experience.
"I know from the community's point of view, they just want to tell their story. They just want to open up and tell me and those I was with things they had to encounter. It was horrific.
"Hearing they had to hang onto their houses and even the roofs of houses for their lives. Not only the lives of themselves, but their pets as well. How when they rang the SES or Triple Zero and they were 500th on the list.
"Just to be there and hear those stories, certainly for me, it's an experience that I will cherish for a long, long time."
It's why the Queensland enforcer wants to see Cbus Super Stadium full on Saturday afternoon for the Titans' first home game of the year - a double header with both the NRLW and NRL teams in action. $20 from every ticket will go to the flood relief initiative, helping South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales recover from the recent disaster.
Match: Titans v Warriors
Round 2 -
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
"We’ve got a really good opportunity this week and through the weekend to raise some much-needed funds. I know all of Australia and the world has got behind the people in the Northern Rivers and Tweed areas and that is a very important part of the Gold Coast Titans community," Meninga said.
"I’d love to see you along there on Saturday. I know it’s an early start, but $20 from everyone who attends goes towards raising some much-needed funds.
"A lot of people lost their houses, lost their possessions and have no way to get that back… some people don’t have any insurance and things like that.
"I really want our rugby league community and fraternity to get behind such an enormous fundraiser, particularly helping us on Saturday.
"You can support the Titans or support the Warriors... we’d just love to see a big crowd there on Saturday for this reason.
"We obviously want to see a great Titans victory, but for the people of the Northern Rivers, Tweed and South East Queensland, we’d love to see you there on the weekend.
"It makes you feel good to help support those people."
Tickets are still available for Saturday's first home game of the year when the NRLW Titans play their first-ever game at Cbus Super Stadium against the Brisbane Broncos at 11.50am. Straight after full-time, the NRL Titans will go for glory with a good showing against the Warriors at 2pm.