AT 5.30pm yesterday the park opposite the Lennox Point Hotel was packed.

By 6pm you couldn’t move.

Everyone in town, it seemed, was there to meet their NRL heroes – the NSW Blues players.

A sea of revellers stood shoulder-to-shoulder from the front of the hotel to the fence that separates the grass from the sand.

And then came their heroes – 17 gladiators dressed in blue ready to fight for the pride of a State.

And the crowd went nuts.

The Blues, in training camp at Kingscliff, offered their assistance to Lennox Head in the wake of the tornado that ripped through the community last Thursday.

And that community forgot its worries over the devastation as it welcomed the Blues with open arms. About 3000 turned up despite the cold.

For Blues behemoth Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, it was somewhat of a homecoming.

The giant player, who grew up in Kingscliff, knew it was going to be a big night before he got off the team bus.

He stopped short of liking it to the bus ride down Caxton Street, Brisbane, which he will experience for the second time next Wednesday, but this was the Lennox version.

“Driving here on the bus we weren’t sure what the turn-out would be like,” he said. “Then we got close to town and saw that people were lining the streets with their blue flags and jumpers.”

For the Raiders giant, driving into town was a bit like a trip down memory lane.

“I used to come down to Lennox with the family as a kid,” he said.

“We used to holiday here and go fishing. It’s a beautiful spot.

And like the rest of the nation, when he first got wind of the horror in Lennox, Learoyd-Lahrs was shocked to say the least.

“When I saw footage of the tornado I was blown away,” he said.

“I didn’t think a tornado could build up on the east coast of Australia. To me it was an American thing.

“But now we all know it can happen and the damage it can do is surreal.”

But like the force of the storm, the spirit in Lennox remains strong. And it was there for all to see.

“What an amazing community. The way they have come together is a credit to the town,” Learoyd-Lahrs said.

Let’s hope the Blues can do similar on Wednesday night.

Were you there to see the Blues?  Tell us in our comments section below.



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