DALE EASTWOOD may be 10,000 miles away, but his heart is very much in Huddersfield at the moment.
The 45-year-old who grew up in Meltham is the proud father of New Zealand rugby league international Greg Eastwood, who was due to play against England in tomorrow’s Four Nations Test at the Galpharm Stadium (6.00).
Unfortunately, 22-year-old forward Greg – who will play for champions Leeds Rhinos in Super League next season – has broken a bone in his left wrist and has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament.
“I’m gutted for him,” said dad Dale, who emigrated to New Zealand when he was 11 and now lives at Macleay Island near Brisbane in Australia.
“I feel sorry for him that he can’t play at the Galpharm Stadium again, but it’s not a serious injury so he’ll come back strong – that’s the way we look at it.”
Dale lived at Sunny Heys in Meltham and attended Birmingham Lane School and Honley High before emigrating to Dunedin in New Zealand with parents Roy and June in 1974, when he was 11.
Both his parents had worked in textiles – June at Albion Mills in Meltham – before his late father became a long-distance lorry driver and took a job in New Zealand.
After settling on the south island, two years later the family moved to Auckland, where Greg was born in March 1987. Dale’s wife, Huia, is related to Maori royalty and is a cousin of former Kiwi international Tawera Nikau, while Greg has two brothers and a sister – Tumai, Shane and Summer-Jade.
“While I’m a Leeds Rhinos fan, I’ve told Greg he’s got to bring me home a Huddersfield Giants shirt because that’s where I was born and that’s where the game of rugby league was born,” said Dale, who moved to Australia in 2000 and who has a disability pension after badly injuring his back.
“We’ve followed his career closely with Brisbane Broncos and the Bulldogs in Sydney and, of course, he’s won a World Cup – not many dads can say that about their son.
“When it comes to sport I’m very much a Kiwi and I’m hoping to come over to watch Greg at some stage if Leeds do well next season, because I haven’t been back to England for about 10 years.”
Dale’s aunt and uncle, Anne and Michael Crowther, still live in Meltham and he has a cousin in Leeds.
“Greg is really looking forward to playing in Super League because it favours his game.
“When you read the media, Greg comes across as a tackling machine and a battering ram – but there’s much more to his game than that and (Leeds coach) Brian McClennan is well aware of the fact. He knows that Greg can pretty much do anything.”
Greg has the nickname ‘Beastwood’ for his rampaging, fearless style and Dale – who thought at one time he might follow in his soccer-playing footsteps – added: “He’s always been strong.
“They called him a freak in the juniors because he used to tear teams up – they just couldn’t hold him. It was like that all the way through the rugby league age groups and representative teams and I just used to think ‘there’s my little soccer player!’
“He’s gone on to make a really good career for himself and it’s just a shame he won’t be involved in this match in Huddersfield.”
Eastwood played for New Zealand at the stadium two years ago, going on as a substitute when they were beaten 20-14 by Great Britain.