Nick Westby Column: League Superstars in green jacket bid

Richie Mathers, left, and Danny Kirmond
Richie Mathers, left, and Danny Kirmond
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Richie Mathers has been a household name in Super League for more than a decade.

Richie Mathers has been a household name in Super League for more than a decade.

He has clocked up more than 250 appearances for five different clubs, has won a Grand Final, played in Australia and represented England – but little compares to the adrenalin that shoots through his body when he stands on the first tee at his own golf day.

That was the feeling he had last year at his home club Cookridge Hall when he teed off in the second annual Super League’s Best Golfer tournament.

“I was recovering from a broken foot so I let everyone play first and I put myself in the final group,” said Mathers, 30, the competition organiser and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats fullback who won a Grand Final in 2004 with Leeds Rhinos.

“By that time a gallery of about 30 or 40 people had assembled and I can honestly say I’ve played in front of a full house in a Grand Final and yet I was more nervous stood on that tee.

“And guess what? I topped my drive. So I’m hoping it can only get better this year.”

Mathers will find out if he has overcome those nerves on Tuesday, June 24, when the third annual search for Super League’s Best Golfer takes place at Cookridge Hall.

He will be joined by 29 of Super League’s finest golfers who will tee off alongside paying members of the public in a bid to become the top golfer in the Super League ranks.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger each year,” continued Mathers, who began the tournament in 2012 with the help of Cookridge’s manager Gary Day.

“It’s a really enjoyable day and as always we support some important charities.

“Last year we supported All Joining Jack for muscular dystrophy, and this year we’re splitting all proceeds on the day between St Gemma’s Hospice and the Steve Prescott Foundation.”

The competition format sees two Super League players paired with two paying members, with their stableford scores combined to determine the winning team.

The Super League players also keep their own score to decide who gets the competition’s ‘green jacket’ and the all-important bragging rights in dressing rooms across rugby league’s top division.

Bradford Bulls’ Luke Gale is the defending champion after beating Wakefield’s Danny Kirmond on countback last year.

Gale was presented with the winner’s ‘green jacket’ by the inaugural champion, Salford’s Chris Nero.

“There’s a lot of good golfers in Super League,” added Mathers. “A lot of guys play regularly. Injuries and family commitments mean I don’t play as often as I used to but I still get out once a week.

“Some guys get out two or three times and take the game really seriously.

“And this is a great opportunity for fans of Super League to come and meet and play with their favourite players and spend a bit of time with them.

“This is something that’s unique in the game of rugby league.

“There aren’t many sports where the players and stars are as accessible as they are in rugby league.”

Mathers and Cookridge are looking for a title sponsor. To help email mathersevents@gmail.com and info@cookridgehall.co.uk or ring Cookridge on 01132 300641.

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