Testimony of strength
Bill Arthur pays tribute to Harlequins stalwart Rob Purdham on the eve of his 10th season in Super League
Last Updated: 10/02/11 11:49am
It takes a bit of staying power and stamina to go from a New Year's Eve big night out in Whitehaven straight to the airport nursing a sore head and onto a 22-hour flight to Australia. And then into warm weather training with a Super League side at the other end.
But that's exactly what Rob Purdham did back in 2002 and he's demonstrated that staying power since then by notching up 10 years with the London Broncos and Harlequins.
The former Egremont Ranger found himself in Queensland for six weeks with Tony Rea's team ahead of the 2002 Super League campaign. He'd just been signed from Whitehaven having impressed on an England Under 21 tour to South Africa the year before. The move south - via Queensland - was a bit of a shock to the system for the farmer's son from Cumbria and he certainly didn't think he'd find himself in London 10 years later.
But that's exactly how things have turned out and now Rob's starting his testimonial season with the club. He's their current longest serving player with nearly 200 appearance for the Broncos/Harlequins.
He's captain of the side this season and is hoping for a succesful year to erase the memories of the nightmare time he endured on and off the field in 2010.
The death of his brother Garry in the west Cumbria shootings last June overshadowed everything for Rob. Many people thought that would signal the end of his time in London and that he'd return to Cumbria.
Injuries also contributed to his season being ruined; he had a shoulder operation and a wrist injury. And that followed on from the blood clot in his hand in 2009 which, at one point, appeared to threaten his career. But he and his wife Sarah have come through all that and have decided to stay on in the south east.
Rob is one of Suoer League's quiet achievers who has gone on to make seven England appearances but in a testimonial season you have to really make a noise to get people to take notice and give their support.
He has a great testimonial committee banging the drum on his behalf and they're hoping that rugby league fans in the south east and beyond will lend their support to his campaign.
They're organising all sorts of events including the customary golf day but they're also hoping to come up with a cross-code challenge match. Harlequins RL against Harlequins RU is the plan, to be played at The Stoop at some stage during the summer, fixture committments permitting
The last time they had one of those down Twickenham way was when Bath beat Wigan 44-19 under rugger rules. Mind you Wigan had hammered the West Country side 82-6 at Maine Road in a League game.
It'd be nice to think Harlequins RL could do a similar job on their housemates on Rob Purdham's behalf this summer, but it'll probably be a much tougher prospect this time.
Rob already has an excellent website up and running with some glowing testimonials on it from former coaches and teammates including Jim Dymock who says: "For me to sum Rob up, he is a typical country boy. He has a great work ethic, wears his heart on his sleeve and is very loyal."
You can see more at http://www.robertpurdham.co.uk including a very revealing portrait of the Harlequins skipper from Sky Sports' own Jon Wells and there are details of all the events coming up in Rob Purdham's well-deserved testimonial campaign.