Sibling rivalry in Rush opener

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:37 PM ET

Family ties only go so far in the NLL.

The only thing that will bind brothers Patrick and Brodie Merrill when their 2011 regular-season kicks off Saturday is the name on the back of their different-coloured jerseys.

Newly named team captain Brodie will lead his Edmonton Rush into the Air Canada Centre to take on older brother Patrick’s Toronto Rock.

With the stage set so close to their hometown of Orangeville, Ont., the matchup will surely be a family-wide affair with plenty of relatives in the stands.

“It will be interesting,” said Rush head coach Derek Keenan, who has coached Brodie throughout his six-year NLL career. “I think they’ve played each other one other time, when we were in Portland and he was in New York.

“I’m sure they have mixed emotions about it. I think they’re pretty close brothers and close friends, and at the same time they’re obviously two huge competitors, so they’re both going to go out and do what it takes to get a win, I’m sure, knowing Patrick. I’ve known him for a number of years as well and obviously coached Brodie for a lot of years as well.”

At 30, what Brodie lacks in experience compared to his 31-year-old brother, he makes up for in size. His six-foot-four, 205-pound frame is a full four inches and 20 pounds more than Patrick. But their hearts are genetic equals and both players pour everything they’ve got into the sport, with Brodie putting together the best offensive numbers of his career last year in Edmonton and Patrick returning to the club where he began his career. While Brodie was named the NLL Transition Player of the Year in 2010, Patrick is a staunch defender who continues to command respect from opposing offences.

Outside of the NLL, the brothers unite their efforts with Brampton in Major Series Lacrosse, the Toronto Nationals in Major League Lacrosse and they brought home silver medals from the field World Champions in England this past summer.

But on Saturday, the logos on the front of their sweaters take precedent over the name on the back.

“I think it’s great for the game, actually,” Keenan said. “My preference, actually, would be to have them both on my team and I’m sure (Rock GM) Terry (Sanderson) would say the same. But I think it’s great that there’s a bit of a rivalry there and it promises to be a real good game as well.”

STAY TUNED: The entire 2011 NLL season will once again be broadcast live and free of charge on the NLL Network.

The content, all free of charge, includes live games, player interviews and behind-the-scenes action that can be viewed streaming 24/7 online at NLL.com and Livestream.com/nllnetwork.

New features for 2011 include HD quality broadcasting from select venues, mobile compatibility allowing viewers to watch live game broadcasts on mobile devices and the ability to check in and chat via Facebook and a centralized NLL Network microsite on Livestream.com.

Games may be subject to blackout restrictions.

gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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