THE Griffith Blacks are pulling out all the stops to honour the memory of club favourite Ben Groat tomorrow at the Coro Club.
The inaugural Ben Groat Memorial Cup will go on the line at 3.15pm between the Blacks and Groat's other Southern Inland Rugby Union club, CSU Reddies.
Groat passed away last year at the age of 26, his sudden and unexpected death rocking the local sporting community to its core.
Blacks president Clint Robertson said tomorrow's emotion-charged festivities will be about making sure the Groat family knows their son will never be forgotten.
"We're going to play rugby on the day but that won't be the real focus," Robertson said.
"It will be more about bringing blokes together, because Groaty's got a lot of mates at both clubs.
"We just want to get all those people around his family and comfort each other and remember what a great man he was."
The Ben Groat Memorial Cup will become an annual event and will be up for grabs the first time Griffith faces CSU each season.
A medal has also been forged in his honour and will be awarded to the best player on the park.
And in a further sign of how the Rankins Springs product was loved by all he knew, both clubs will effectively swap colours on the day.
Special, one-off reverse jerseys have been created - Griffith will wear CSU's iconic red shirt but with all current club insignia and sponsors printed on the front, while Reddies will pull on an all-black top.
The unique jerseys will be put up for a silent auction with all proceeds to go to a charity of the Groat family's choice.
It is also Griffith's old boys day, with special promotions available for any former player or official sporting either Blacks or Reddies colours, and Robertson has promised marquees will be erected to protect spectators from the forecast rain.
Griffith's players, meanwhile, will all have Groat at the forefront of their minds.
One of Groat's closest friends, Daniel McGreal, has been made captain for the day and first-grade coach Seru Rogo said tomorrow will be a big occasion for those who knew the barnstorming second-rower.
"This game is going to be very close to Dan's heart, and anyone else who played with Groaty,” Rogo said.
“All the family is going to be there, and it’s going to be good for the boys to go out, play a good game of rugby and win it for Groaty’s family and the club.”
A win is exactly what Griffith needs, with the club still reeling from Saturday’s controversial 50-12 loss to the Wagga Waratahs.
Star man Dan Rawaqa was been handed a one-week suspension by the SIRU judiciary on Tuesday night for his late, dangerous tackle that earned him an early red card in the blowout defeat.
“We sort of expected that,” Robertson said.
“We weren’t too disappointed - we showed the video, and it didn’t look the best, but because he’s got a good playing record they kept it to a week.
“The judiciary understood there was a bit of niggle at the start of the game and it was probably a reaction to that.”
Rogo also confirmed representative player Vaea Mateo will also miss out due to an eye injury, while skipper Daniel Dowson has not been named.
Rogo said while emotions will be high tomorrow, the Blacks can’t afford to lose their heads during the game as they did against the Waratahs, who rattled Griffith with their niggling, antagonistic approach.
“We were expecting them to do what they did - and they did it, straight away, from the first whisle, and we reacted,” he said.
“We had a meeting had a big talk about how we’re going to be approached by other teams from now on.
“We need to just play rugby. That’s a big lesson.”
SQUAD: Siti Tora, Nick Gleeson, Teau Kaue, Daniel McGreal, Michael Stalley, Andries De Meyer, Tom Watson, Luke Ratu, Jason Waring-Bryant, Peceli Suasua, Sione Siale, Marika Vunibaka, Maika Ravouvou, Johnny Brown, Solomone Fili.