‘Great leader, loyal friend, true servant of the game’
RUGBY UNION: The Gympie Hammers and Nambour Toads will farewell a legend who pulled on both their jerseys in a whopping 643-game career at Albert Park tomorrow.
Bryce "Skip" Henderson will step on the hallowed turf one final time when he runs out with the Toads as they try and retain the fabled Bone of Contention trophy traditionally contested between the rival teams.
The 41-year-old has played more than 300 of those 643 games in Sunshine Coast competitions, lining up for the Hammers 220 times before adding another 92 with Nambour.
It's been a truly stellar career for "Skip", who has played on 33 rugby fields over 18 years in Queensland and been a part of three state champion teams.
The local legend's journey started across the Tasman as a seven-year-old, playing barefoot for Tolaga Bay school at lunchtimes before playing with Eskview in Napier, NZ two years later.
Henderson described Eskview as "the kind of club where your grandad coached, your dad, uncles and cousins all played" and called it "a great place to grow up playing rugby in a small country community".
From there he played for Napier boys high school and then the Napier old boys Marist until he turned 20.
At the turn of the century 21-year-old "Skip" travelled to Darwin to play with the Casuarina Cougars and took part in the 2000-2001 Coca Cola Super 7s Singapore 7s.
Then it was on to Gympie in the early 2000s where he played for the Hammers for the next eight years in A-grade and reserve grade teams. He rose to the ranks of club captain, where he earned his affectionate nickname.
In 2009, he briefly returned to New Zealand and the Napier old boys Marist, where he claimed to have outjumped an All Black.
He had to relocate from the coast between 2011 and 2013, playing for the Hobart Lions and the Gatton Uni Black Pigs.
In 2013, he moved back and started playing for the Nambour Toads, loaning himself back to the Hammers during their rebuild year in 2015, before returning to Nambour for 2016.
Tomorrow, the man described as a "great leader, loyal friend and a true servant of the game" returns to Albert Park for a fitting farewell.
The Hammers women kick off at 12:30pm, followed by the Bone of Contention match at 2:15pm.
BRYCE "SKIP" HENDERSON: HIS CAREER AT A GLANCE
Eskview: 72 games
Napier boys high school: 64 games
Napier old boys Marist: 76 games
Casuarina Cougars: 55 games
Gympie Hammers: 220 games
Napier old boys Marist: 12 games
Hobart Lions: 10 games
Gatton Black Pigs: 42 games
Nambour Toads: 92 games
Best moment: 2004 grand final, Gympie v Noosa, which went into extra time for a heartbreaking loss.
Favourite quote: "When the worms become scarce the hens don't cackle about it, they scratch harder!" or "Rugby is like wrestling a gorilla, you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when he's tired."
Best sledgers: AJ Bailey and Jarrod Dan
Best win: Any win against Noosa
What his teammates have said
"Henderson, up in the stratosphere there!" - Bowski "Andrew" Rye
"Bryce always told me 'You've got to get your first tackle in early … even if it's late'" - Hammers Coach Brent Dickfos
"He won't retire" - Hammers President Jason McPherson
"He has legs like a gazelle, hands like a duck, and eyes like a demented mole. But gosh he's fun to kick the ole pig skin with! We will be best mates 'til we grow old" - Jarrod Dan
"On the rugby field Bryce would always tell me 'I've got a lot of faith in you. I'll stick with you kid, that's the bottom line'" - AJ Bailey