Josh McCrone believes the traditional Anzac Day clash between St George Illawarra and the Sydney Roosters is the biggest and best club game on the NRL calendar.
The Dragons will travel to Allianz Stadium on Tuesday to face the Roosters in the blockbuster round eight fixture looking to keep pace at the top of the table.
McCrone has found career-best form since Dragons coach Paul McGregor decided to pair him with captain Gareth Widdop in the halves, highlighted by his superb individual performance against Manly earlier this month.
And the 30-year-old has fond memories of the Anzac Day fixture, steering the Dragons to a thrilling 20-18 victory in last year’s clash.
“Besides winning the comp last year with reserve grade that was my highlight of the year, playing on Anzac Day,” McCrone told the Leader.
“I feel fairly strongly about honouring that tradition and everything they did for our country. Getting the opportunity to play that day and have the Last Post playing before the game, it sends shivers down your spine.
“That Last Post, to share the field with servicemen and women just for that short period of time is an honour in itself for what they do for us. It’s something that I really enjoy doing and if I can honour them in any way playing good footy that day I’m more than happy to.”
The Dragons have an impressive record on April 25, winning seven of the last nine matches. McCrone has only played in one Anzac Day game but said that was enough to know there was a special edge about the clash.
“I remember getting taken out a couple of times putting a kick in so she’s fairly physical,” he said.
“She was fast, really physical. It’s one of those games where you sort of look up at the scoreboard and there’s 30 minutes gone and it only feels like 10 minutes. It just flashes past you.
“I think the atmosphere that Allianz brings, it’s a specialist football stadium. NSW doesn’t really have another stadium that compares to that. To play in front of that with a big crowd is awesome. And there’s nothing better than playing afternoon footy.”
McCrone said he was thrilled with how his combination with Widdop had blossomed early on but said there was more to come.
“We didn’t get too much time to play together last year,” he said.
“We sort of got one or two games at a time so it was tough to build too much of a combination there, then going back to reserve grade and playing hooker and lock. It was a tricky year. But I think with an extended stay there it’s been a lot better.”