BLAST FROM THE PAST
48 top grade games (Canterbury — 3, South Sydney — 38, Newcastle — 7) from 2002-2007
TODD Polglase was scouted by a childhood hero. His parents had just witnessed their son streak away to score a long-distance try for Newcastle’s Jersey Flegg team when a familiar voice popped up behind them.
“Terry Lamb was standing behind my parents at the game and he was asking who scored the try,” Polglase said. “My parents introduced themselves. I was a fanatical Bulldogs and Terry fan as a kid. Anyone who meets their hero it is a bit surreal. One day you’re watching him on television and the next you’re talking to him.”
Polglase joined the Bulldogs ahead of the 2000 season and was earmarked as a long-term replacement for Rod Silva who was nearing the end of his career. But a torn ACL just before his 19th birthday in an opposed session set Polglase back. While he was sidelined, the club signed Luke Patten.
Polglase made his debut in the match made famous by Hazem El Masri’s match winning sideline conversion against Newcastle in 2002
“Willie Talau was injured,” Polglase, who scored a try on debut, said. “I didn’t really give it much thought until (coach) Steve Folkes rang me up and asked if I’d played in the centres before. I hadn’t but he said I would be right.”
Three appearances in just two years led to Polglase’s Canterbury exit. He signed with Souths in 2004 and again ruptured his ACL in his right knee in round one. Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe purchased the Rabbitohs midway through Polglase’s three-year stint.
“Meeting Terry Lamb is one thing, then you meet a worldwide superstar and you don’t know what to say,” Polglase said. “A lot changed. We went from having one bloke strapping 30 players to having caterers. We were at movie premieres and on his boat. When Russell took over it went from one end to another.”
Polglase, who works in the Hunter Valley mines, signed a two-year deal to return to Newcastle in 2007 but lasted just seven games before retiring at 26.
“After my second ACL, I had a heap of hamstring problems,” Polglase said. “During a bye weekend, I tore my hamstring really bad at training. I couldn’t come back that year. During the next pre-season I got through it and then it tore again. I couldn’t cope, I was struggling to compete so I pulled the pin.”