Diehard prop Ben Daley notches his 50th match for Queensland in Saturday night’s Super Rugby derby – inspired, as always, to play for his brother Josh.
It’s a clash where the Reds must seize the day with a bonus-point victory over NSW to boost their play-off chances, but Daley has carried that carpe diem philosophy with him over the past two years.
The 24-year-old son of ex-Kangaroos and Manly rugby league front-rower Phil Daley, knows the fleeting nature of rugby after Josh’s own promising career was ruined by a shattering lower back injury.
At the same time Ben was making his Wallabies debut against England in June 2010, Josh’s career came to an abrupt end following surgery to repair a bulging disc which caused serious nerve damage and “excruciating” pain in his leg.
It’s in the Daley genes to play through the pain barrier and Josh, the younger by two years, had trained too hard, too young after signing with the NSW Waratahs Academy straight out of school where he also starred as a young prop to represent Australia.
“It was a bittersweet time (in 2010),” Ben told AAP. “It was a really disappointing time for him there, and the whole family.
“He would have loved to have played professional football himself so it’s important each time I go out there that you think about how easily it can be taken away.”
Ben admits he plays for Josh as much as himself each time he takes the field.
Now coaching with Sydney University colts and studying sports business, Josh, who will be at Suncorp Stadium to celebrate his brother’s milestone, says his own misfortune has brought them closer together.
“It brings a tear to the eye hearing he plays for both of us,” the 21-year-old said. “It’s a lot of pressure that he puts on himself and it’s hard for me to understand – I’d never put that pressure on him myself.
“I’ve been with him every step of the way with his ups and downs and it’s good to see him still achieving his goals.
“It’s a great motivation for me now that I’ve stopped playing.”
Ben, who missed World Cup selection last year following shoulder surgery, will come off the bench against the Waratahs after injuries have continued to take their toll in 2012.
He’s reeled out of numerous collisions this season with intense shoulder pain but continued to play on.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie rates the loose-head among the toughest players he’s been involved with, praising his mental strength to cop the biggest hits in close-quarters combat and back up for more.
“Doing what’s best for the team is what (Ben) always stresses to me,” Josh said. “He says ‘I can’t let my teammates down’ and self-preservation goes out the window.
“He’s a very tough man.”
Phil, mother Vicky and sister Brittany, 13, will also be cheering Daley on against the Waratahs in a match almost exactly 24 years after his father broke NSW Origin camp in Brisbane to be with Vicky for Ben’s birth in Sydney.