Duffie’s Dream ANZAC Day Debut
Ahead of the Melbourne Storm’s traditional ANZAC Day showdown with the New Zealand Warriors, we’re taking a look back at the clubs’ April 25 clash from 2010 – and a stunning debut by a Canterbury Rugby League product.
In its last home match before moving into the brand new AAMI Park, Melbourne hosted the Warriors at Docklands on ANZAC Day, 2010, in what would become an annual fixture in the Victorian capital.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Storm had been shattered by the revelations of salary cap breaches – and the NRL’s punishment, which included the stripping of two premierships and preventing the club from participating in the 2010 finals – just days earlier.
Craig Bellamy’s fired-up side took their frustrations out on the Warriors, powering to a devastating 40-6 win.
The chief beneficiary of the seven-tries-to-one rout was 19-year-old wing debutant Matt Duffie.
The Christchurch-born, Kaiapoi Bulldogs junior was denied a spectacular try early on after he put his foot into touch, but the tall flyer atoned by finishing off sweeping Storm backline movements either side of halftime to finish with a dream double.
Duffie linked with the Storm in 2008 after being scouted by the Storm while playing for First XV rugby for Saint Kentigern College in Auckland. He was part of the Storm’s NYC team’s premiership victory in 2009, scoring a try in the grand final win over Wests Tigers.
His ascent to rugby league’s highest level was complete when, after just 20 NRL appearances (and 14 tries), he was called up to make his New Zealand Test debut against Australia in May, 2011. Duffie scored a try in the Kiwis’ 20-10 loss to the Kangaroos on the Gold Coast.
But it would be his only Test appearance, however, as injuries gradually began to dog the youngster’s career, ruling him out of the Storm’s charge to the 2012 premiership and restricting him to just four games in the space of three years.
Duffie returned admirably in the latter stages of the 2015 season – featuring in Melbourne’s finals campaign – before signing a deal with Super Rugby franchise the Blues, leaving behind an NRL record of 37 tries in 62 games.
He has developed into a valuable backline performer for Tana Umaga’s Blues and won an international call-up for the All Blacks in 2017…but rugby league fans in Kaiapoi and Melbourne still hold fond memories of the early stages of his 13-a-side career.