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'Extra special': Brimson's Redcliffe return only fitting after losing great mate

There couldn't be a more apt way AJ Brimson returns to the field this weekend after losing his best mate Liam Hampson.

Four months on from that heartbreaking night in Barcelona, the Titans No. 1 will feature in his first game of the season on the same hallowed turf the childhood friend played his last on.

The date was September, 24, 2022; a parochial red and white army had filled the stands of Kayo Stadium, cheering on their beloved Redcliffe Dolphins to what they were hoping would be Hostplus Cup premiership victory.

Whilst the fairytale didn't quite have the happy ending it deserved that day, Hampson was on the bench and played a solid 42 minutes - a performance that had put him in the box seat to likely earn the 24-year-old a NRL pre-season train-and-trial deal.

Fast forward to this Sunday after the tragedy that struck over the off-season, the scene will be much the same as what it was last September when Brimson runs out... Moreton Bay will be abuzz, the talk of the town will be all about the occasion and there will be a sea of red and white as Dolphins supporters pack the grandstands and cheer on their team who have now made it to the top grade.

The only thing missing will be Hampson... the loveable larrikin not there in the flesh, but the Gold Coast fullback knows he'll be watching on.

"It's a bit surreal and at times, still hard to accept it [that he's gone], Brimson told

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"He's definitely going to be in the back of my mind. Liam finished up at Redcliffe and his last game was there, so it's going to be extra special playing at that stadium. 

"I actually can't wait because I'm just keen in general to play some footy after a long pre-season, but it's definitely going to be more special playing at Redcliffe.

"His family is coming up to watch the game and support me and it'll be a nice moment... I'll definitely go and see them after the game."

The extraordinary bond the pair had was irreplaceable; finishing school together before becoming roommates for four years at Palm Beach - Brimson reflecting on some of his best memories recently on the Bloke in a Bar podcast with Denan Kemp.

Declaring he wants to dedicate his season and remainder of his career to the 'legend bloke' with a prominent tattoo he can point to regularly, that won't be on show in this weekend's trial, instead all being revealed ahead of the Titans' season opener against the Tigers in a fortnight.

But the talented No. 9 has been remembered in other ways on the Coast in recent months, with the introduction of the 'Hampo' parmy at Pancakes Paradise and this week, the launch of Hampo's Youth Foundation.

The Prince of Palmy with his Hampo Parmy. Photo: AJ Brimson/Instagram
The Prince of Palmy with his Hampo Parmy. Photo: AJ Brimson/Instagram

"It's been awesome to be able to do these things," Brimson said.

"A parmy was probably his favourite feed and just to have his name living at a restaurant like Pancakes in Paradise at Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta... he would've loved that which is pretty cool.

"Also, the Hampo Youth Foundation has just started and the website is now up and running.

"The family has done a big job in organising that and it's basically for kids especially in the sporting industry who don't have the same opportunities.

"They'll be able to apply for scholarships and I'll be a proud ambassador for that."

Kick-off to Brimson's first game of the season against the Dolphins in which he'll honour his best mate is at 6.05pm on Sunday at Kayo Stadium.

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.