A MEASURE of the love and devotion Brett Kimmorley felt for his wife Sharnie was the day an NRL game in Wollongong was almost delayed because of her.
It was edging closer to kick-off and Bulldogs and Dragons players were pacing around in their respective dressing rooms getting ready to run out for a game back in 2009.
All except Kimmorley.
“He’d just got a message from Sharnie to say she and their girls couldn’t get into the car park at WIN Stadium because the bloke on the gate wouldn’t let them in,” a Bulldogs insider said.
“It was probably only two minutes to kick-off but Noddy’s (Kimmorley) response was to get a message relayed to the attendant telling him the game wasn’t going to start until he did.
“Right at that moment, Sharnie was probably the most powerful person at WIN Stadium.”
For Kimmorley, a former Kangaroos and NSW Blues Origin halfback who won a premiership and Clive Churchill medal with Melbourne Storm and played more than 300 top grade games with six different clubs, it has always been that way.
Family first, footy second.
But that has been shattered by Sharnie’s death from brain cancer at just 38 years of age.
The mother of four young daughters — Maddi, Mia, Ava and Ivy — passed away at home with family and friends by her side following an eight-month battle with the disease.
Initially believing she had fought it off after first being diagnosed in June last year, it is understood the cancer returned very aggressively several weeks ago.
“We are gutted,” close family friends Chris and Lynne Anderson said.
Anderson, who coached Kimmorley at Melbourne and Cronulla, described Sharnie’s death as “just the saddest thing ever”.
“They were just such a devoted family to each other and the kids. It was their whole life,” he said. “She was the family taxi. The girls did everything through school and after school and she just facilitated it all for them. She was a mother hen … amazing with the girls.
“But all the decisions Brett made in footy, they were family decisions.”
Lynne Anderson said Sharnie devoted herself to Kimmorley and the girls. “She was 100 per cent behind him and his career all the way,” she said. They were childhood sweethearts and rock solid with everything they did.
“She was so devoted to Brett and the girls and knew Brett was just the best dad and husband she could hope for.
“I spoke to her when she initially got the diagnosis and she said ‘I’m going to beat it. It’s not going to win’ and that was the attitude that summed them up. They refused to believe in the negative. They did everything they could to beat it.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, whose family is extremely close to the Kimmorleys, said the rugby league community had taken the news of Sharnie’s death so hard because of the former half-back’s standing in the game.
“I’ve known Noddy for a long time now,” he said.
“My eldest daughter Lara has been babysitting the girls for a long period and my wife Lisa was close to Sharnie and he is one of those few people inside the game that is admired and loved by many.
“It is why this has resonated with a lot of people.
“Both he and Sharnie supported each other enormously and a lot of people knew Brett’s success on the field over a long period of time came in part because he had such a strong and resolute lady behind him.”
Greenberg said the rugby league community would be there for the family.
“The game has the ability to wrap its arms around Brett and his daughters and support them not just today or tomorrow but for a long period ahead,” he said.
“Brett knows that. He knows the game has its arms around to help as best we can.”
NRL: Michael Ennis has paid tribute to family friend Sharnie Kimmorley, the wife of former NRL star Brett, who tragically lost her battle with cancer.
Originally published as Sharnie’s passing ‘just the saddest thing ever’