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Father and son to play alongside each other in grand final qualifier

Blake and Daniel Draper - PICTURE: BRETT ATKINS

Living the dream: Blake and Daniel Draper will run on for East Campbelltown against Minto in a grand final qualifier at Campbelltown Sports Stadium this Sunday. PICTURE: BRETT ATKINS

Ivan and Nathan Cleary dream of being together in the same rugby league team one day, but for a Campbelltown father and his son it’s already a reality.

This Sunday, Daniel Draper and his son Blake, 20, will play for East Campbelltown Eagles reserve grade side in a grand final qualifier against local rivals Minto at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Draper senior, who is 45, is hoping that they make the grand final so he can finally retire from footy after 19 seasons for the mighty Eagles – and having the special pleasure of playing with his son.

“It would definitely be a fairytale finish to my career if we make the Grand Final this year and I am playing alongside my son Blake,’’ says Daniel, a stalwart of the club and a life member.

“This year will be my last season as it is so tough on the body, but to finish alongside my son as well as a couple of players I have played alongside with for years I couldn’t ask for anything more.’’

While it’s true this is not the first time the Drapers have played together it’s definitely the first time on Australian soil.

Last year the father and son ran on for French rugby league side Cahors 13, which has a special relationship with East Campbelltown.

Daniel had first played for the French team 20 years earlier in 1999-2000.

Last year it was decided to send Blake across to France to follow in his father’s footsteps.

In January, Daniel and 12 members of the family flew over, ostensibly to watch Blake play.

What Blake didn’t know was that a plan had been hatched for his old man to join him on the playing field.

lake and Daniel Draper playing for Cahors 13 in France

Oui: Blake and Daniel Draper playing for Cahors 13 in France earlier this year.

They played four matches together to help Cahors make the semis.

“Playing together in France was an experience that I never believed could happen,’’ says Daniel.

“It still remains one of my highlights playing for Cahors but to return almost 20 years and run out with my son was fantastic.

“To have 12 of our family members there to watch was even better,’’ Daniel Draper said.

On returning to Australia Daniel answered the call for help and played reserve grade at the age of 45.

Blake also was selected in reserve grade on his return from France and now has a chance to play in a grand final with his father.

“It will be very tough to finish with a grand final win as there are four teams that all could take out the premiership, but we will do our best,’’ says Daniel.

Bu win, lose or draw, the Drapers will have a memory that the family can dine out on for many years to come.






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