EORL Crabtree’s family has been with him through the highs and the lows – and tomorrow will be an ultimate high.
Many people don’t realise how tough life as a professional rugby player can be, but big Eorl Crabtree’s wife Helen, and three children know only too well.
Eorl plays for England in tomorrow’s Gillette Four Nations final against Australia in Leeds – and that will be all the more special as he was left out of an England squad to play against Australia a couple of years ago.
In the 10 years he and Helen have been together, she has witnessed the highs and lows the 27-year-old Giants’ Super League prop forward has been through to reach the very top of the rugby league ladder.
She admits sacrifices have had to be made during the past decade to guarantee her husband has been able to fulfil his dream – and it also means children Connor, 14, Joe 12 and seven-year-old Lilly have had to make sacrifices too as holidays have been rare in recent times.
But Helen believes it’s a price worth paying and that playing against the mighty Kangaroos at Elland Road this weekend will be the icing on the cake.
“We’re all so proud of what Eorl has achieved and there will be no prouder moment than tomorrow,” said 36-year-old Helen.
“I’ve been with Eorl since he was 17, which was also when he signed for the Giants.
“During that time I’ve seen how much time, effort and commitment he’s put in to get to the very top of his sport. It’s been his dream from day one to play for his country against Australia – and he’s now done that.
“There have been some tough times along the way and I’ll never forget how gutted he was the other year when he thought he was going to be picked to play in a Test series against Australia and then got the call to say he’d been left out.
“But he just kept his head down, worked harder, and on Saturday will play in probably the biggest game in his career.
“It has meant we’ve had to make sacrifices as a family. Holidays together have been pretty thin on the ground in recent years.
“But that still doesn’t stop us all as a family loving every minute of what Eorl has been going through. We really wouldn’t have had it any other.
“I’m proud of him, so are our children, and so is everyone else in the family.”
Crabtree made his full Test debut in England’s victory against France in Paris in June and then featured in the 26-16 defeat to Australia two weeks ago before helping the nation defeat New Zealand 20-12 at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium last Saturday to set up a final showdown with the famous green and golds this weekend.
And Helen believes Eorl and his teammates have what it takes to secure victory.
“Eorl played really well against Australia the other week and I know how confident he and his teammates are as tomorrow approaches,” she added.
“And I know they can do it, with Eorl obviously playing the starring role!”