Big sports make bushfire aid top priority for 2020 start

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has announced the opening week of the 2020 season will be a dedicated Bushfire Appeal Round to raise money for those affected.

It comes as sports stars from home and abroad come ­together to raise money in aid of the bushfire relief ­efforts across Australia.

Test cricketers Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon on the fire ground with Ku-ring-gai Brigade deputy captain John Corry and RFS volunteers at Wingello. Pictures: RFS
Test cricketers Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon on the fire ground with Ku-ring-gai Brigade deputy captain John Corry and RFS volunteers at Wingello. Pictures: RFS

Ben Simmons, Patty Mills and Australia's other NBA stars banded together to donate $1 million to help fight the horrific bushfires.

"We are heartbroken over the devastation these fires are causing all across our homeland," the nine Aussie NBA players said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with our ­families, friends and all of the people of Australia."

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley announced yesterday that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios would headline a charity exhibition event called Rally for Relief in Melbourne. Tiley also confirmed that Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki and Stefanos Tsitsipas would also take part in the event on Wednesday.

 

Australian Tennis player Nick Kyrgios. Picture: Tim Hunter
Australian Tennis player Nick Kyrgios. Picture: Tim Hunter

The NRL's plan will form part of a whole-of-game approach and follows AFL and Cricket Australia planning to host special matches to aid the bushfire appeal.

The Canterbury Bulldogs donated $50,000 while Penrith will host a fundraiser for the RFS at Panthers Stadium on Saturday with an open training session and barbecue breakfast.

 

 

The NRL is also putting plans in place to honour emergency services personnel and volunteers during round one which kicks off on March 12 in Parramatta, and will include games which will reach rural communities directly affected in New­castle, Canberra and Wollongong.

"Our clubs and our players have so many links to these communities which have been impacted by these devastating bushfires," Greenberg said. "Everyone I have spoken to wants to make a difference, we all want to help."

Australia's cricketers are also doing their bit. On Wednesday, National Test cricket captain Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon took themselves out to visit firefighters in the devastated town of Wingello in the NSW Southern Highlands, as Shane Warne's baggy green cap surged past the half a million dollar mark at an auction that will donate every cent to those who have suffered in the bushfire tragedy.

Australian cricketers Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon meet RFS firefighters in Mittagong. Picture: RFS
Australian cricketers Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon meet RFS firefighters in Mittagong. Picture: RFS

Sir Donald Bradman's baggy green once yielded $425,000 at a charity auction, but that was eclipsed yesterday by Warne's famous headwear which passed the $500,000 mark with another 24 hours to go. Fast bowling legend Jeff Thomson also put his last baggy green up for auction.

But cricket also visited the coalface yesterday, when Paine was handed the microphone by NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to address workers at the Emergency Centre in Homebush.

Pain gets a briefing from RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at headquarters. Picture: RFS
Pain gets a briefing from RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at headquarters. Picture: RFS

Paine spoke for the country as he said a big "thank­you" before he and teammate Lyon stood in the ruins of houses in Wingello to offer support to the fireys.

"We basically wanted to say G'day and thank you to all the firefighters that have been doing such a fantastic job down here in southern NSW," Paine said. "It's been a really special day for us to come down and … realise the flat out bravery of our firemen and women who have come out here to try and save lives and save property.

"To see some of the devastation and the size of the fire that's come through places like this has been ­absolutely mind-blowing."

 

 

Lyon and Paine hear first hand the stories of volunteer firefighters. Picture: RFS
Lyon and Paine hear first hand the stories of volunteer firefighters. Picture: RFS
Tim Paine meets the families of RFS volunteers at Wingello. Picture: RFS
Tim Paine meets the families of RFS volunteers at Wingello. Picture: RFS
Paine and Lyon talk to RFS crew from Berrima. Picture: RFS
Paine and Lyon talk to RFS crew from Berrima. Picture: RFS
Briefing at the RFS Headquarters. Picture: RFS
Briefing at the RFS Headquarters. Picture: RFS

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