The chatter around the Lucas dinner table this week again turned to hatching a grand family plan...how to get four brothers on the field for Sunnybank.
Family gatherings these days are more like an airport transit lounge with Ben, 34, Matt, 30, and Isaac 23, back for now after seasons in Japan.
Tom, 28, couldn’t resist the rugby itch and has made a productive comeback at flyhalf for improvers Sunnybank over the past four rounds of the StoreLocal Hospital Cup.
Yen would almost be the family currency. Either that or the steaks on the barbecue when Sunnybank was discussed around the table.
“Of course, we’ve had that chat about getting the four brothers on the field together. It’s the dream but contracts make it tricky,” Tom said with a smile.
The Kefu brothers, Toutai, Steve, Mafi and Fa’aleo, got on the field together for Souths in first grade in 2003.
It might only have been a pre-season trial, but the six Richards brothers played together for GPS against Goondiwindi on Ballymore’s outside field in 2015. Two sisters ran the water and proud father John stepped up as team manager.
Sunnybank meet Easts at Oldmac Oval on Saturday for the Rick Tyrrell Cup as part of the Queensland Rugby Union’s Mental Health Round.
There was a chance Tom might not even have played this year after missing the 2021 season when his daughter Luna was born.
“I was staying in touch from afar but I was going to give the season a miss again because of work and daddy duties,” Lucas said.
“Sunnybank is the club where I grew up. They’d been through a rough patch results-wise and I got a call about coming down.
“You do want a help and when there’s a win like that one over University of Queensland (34-31) it gives the whole club a spark.
“The fact we were able to scrap and fight and tackle to stay in that game made it even better as a very good scalp.
“It was Multicultural Day down at the club too so it was a really enjoyable occasion with all the families and supporters staying back after the game.”
The Dragons had Brothers beaten too but for conceding a late penalty which turned into a 27-26 heartbreaker at Crosby Park last weekend.
“I threw an intercept pass and it was disappointing to miss a late kick (at penalty goal) when we could have stolen it. That would have shaken things up. The really good thing is the belief we are building that we can match it with the top four teams.”
Lucas is not the only stalwart giving the Dragons back some roar. The evergreen Rex Tapuai has chimed in at centre and wing this season at 38.
“The physique of the man...he’s got one of the best rigs in the team and he’s 38. He's a true athlete,” Lucas said.
Queensland Reds prop Feao Fotuaika has also been an invaluable figure in recent weeks since returning to the club.
For Sunnybank coach Sione Fukofuka, he is upbeat about the progress being made.
“A big part is getting the set piece strong so having Feao back at the club has been very positive,” Fukofuka said.
“We’re the fittest we’ve been over the past three years and more accurate in defence. Both those things have kept us in games and enabled us to play with the freedom in attack that Sunnybank sides have always been known for.”
Having an influential big body like No.8 Josh Fenner, who had a stint with English club Wasps, has also generated more authority from the pack.
Young flanker Alex Niedzwiecki is a workhorse while sharp-stepping centre Dave Feliuai Iene has been a try-scoring handful since getting a clearance from his Romanian club.
Fukofuka has played and coached at both Easts and Sunnybank and knows how much the Rick Tyrrell Cup and heightened awareness of mental health means.
“I know boys at both clubs who have struggled in that area. The initiative is definitely supported. I know it is something powerful that the clubs support together,” he said.