NRL’s shutdown babies and engagements as players keep busy
THE NRL has seen mind-blowing amount of bad news amid the COVID-19 shutdown, from a bitter battle about TV rights to guns charges, a Tik Tok scandal, anti-vax blow-ups and a mad scramble to get the season back on track. But there has also been an endless stream of wonderful news in the personal lives of NRL players and their families, with babies galore, engagements and special tributes to mums.
It's a boy!
Last month retired NSW State of Origin-winning halfback Trent Hodkinson and his wife Chantelle Traficante welcomed their first child into the world. The little lad was born April 19 at 7.01pm, named Brees Austen Hodkinson.
Traficante, an interior designer, said her little boy already reminded her of his dad. "He's an absolute mini Trent Hodkinson and so placid and sweet," she wrote on her Instagram. "Still in total shock we were blessed with a perfect little boy! Let the fun times begin little man."
Welcome to the world Lennex
Little more than a week ago, Bulldogs player Adam Elliott and partner Robyn Alexandra met their first bub for the first time. Lennex James Elliott arrived May 12, with the middle name a tribute to Elliott's brother, James.
Elliott expressed his admiration for his partner and emotion at welcoming his son on social media. "Wow, lost for words. Robyn Alexandra going through that to bring in our little man I love you so much. And Little Lenny the Lion, my boy I can't say how proud I am to be your dad … my heart is so full."
First came the wedding …
It has been a whirlwind six months for Rabbitohs prop Mark Nicholls and his wife Perrie, who married in a gorgeous ceremony on November 2 last year, only to announce two months later that they had a baby on the way too.
Perrie admitted she had not had an easy pregnancy but it was all worth it on May 4 at 6.42am when she gave birth to Darcie Isla Nicholls. The couple got to take their new treasure home five days ago.
Arabella and steps to recovery
Luckless Cronulla hooker Cameron King has had a public battle with an ACL injury and went into surgery on March 11, but 20 days later he'd be seeing the hospital for a totally different reason as his fiance Kristy Heathcote gave birth to their first child.
If King needed any inspiration to get back on his feet, little Arabella Maree was just that. "Yesterday we welcomed our precious baby girl into the world," he wrote to his Instagram followers. "I've never felt a love like this In my life. I didn't know it was possible. Hands down the best day of my life."
He put a ring on it
Roosters young gun Nat Butcher and model girlfriend Harmony Abell seem to have the perfect relationship, and on April 26 Butcher got down on one knee and made things official.
The couple have been together since they were in high school and have always been supportive of each other's career aspirations. The couple could not wipe the smiles off their faces in a number of posts to Instagram. "Forever yes," Abell simply wrote.
Knight in shining armour
Newcastle Knights captain Mitchell Pearce put his time away from the game to good use, proposing to his girlfriend Kristin Scott.
The pair have been together publicly for almost 18 months and clearly Pearce, who recently celebrated his 31st birthday, felt the stars aligned with the Wollongong dancer. He accompanied the announcement pic with the caption: "My forever. Best moment of my life."
Let's get Merrin-ed
There might not have been any footy on, but there hasn't been much downtime for Dragons player Trent Merrin, who welcomed a baby boy to the world and proposed to his now-fiancee Jessica Watson in just a couple of months.
On March 19, Jessica gave birth to Mayne Merrin, whom Trent welcomed in a touching post:
"Welcome to the world, I'll be next to you every single step of the way son." Then, he gifted his "superwoman" a hard-to-top Mother's Day present on May 10 - a huge, shiny rock, to which she responded: "How many times can I say yes yes yes!!!"
Proud to be a mama's boy
Kalyn Ponga's love for his family, especially his mum Adine, is the stuff of legend for sports fans. The 22-year-old Knights star posted a heartfelt to his mum for Mother's Day, saying: "The happiest, most joyful person ever. Thank you for all the love you bring to this family. We love you x100000."
Ponga famously took his mum to the Dally M Awards night in 2018, saying at the time "No one else is as special as my Mum".
Three generations of love
Retired Bunnies player Sam Burgess paid tribute to the two special ladies in his life on May 10 - his mum Julie and nan Valerie. "Happy Mother's Day to my two G.O.A.T's (greatest of all time) and all the other amazing mums out there in the world," Burgess posted along with a smiling selfie with his two matriarchs.
The 31-year-old has always been open about his close relationship with his mum, who he calls his biggest supporter both personally and professionally.