Mark Geyer, the footballer, is an awesome mix of aggression, will-to-win and muscle-power -a combination which has helped him become one of the modern game's great forwards. I have watched the man known as 'MG' grow from a wet-behind-the-ears 16-year-old to what he is today - and I reckon that makes me very fortunate. Knowing him over those years has allowed me to befriend a decent and caring man.

My relationship with the big bloke runs pretty deep. He's a friend, almost a brother. He's someone I trust, someone who looks out for me, someone I watch out for in return, someone with whom I have shared a lot of laughs ...and a mate I've shed more than a few tears with too. As far as football is concerned I'm certain of one thing - I'd rather have him on my side than against me.

The Mark Geyer I know and respect today is a far cry from the hell-raising figure which appears on the front and back pages of the tabloids with an almost embarrassing regularity. The Geyer I know is giving, generous and extremely loyal. I can't wrap the guy enough. The best way I can sum up my admiration and respect for MG is to say I am proud he married my sister, Meagan. I'm being brutally honest when I say if I'd ever thought he was a ratbag, I would have pulled no punches in trying to kayo their relationship in its early days.

Mark and I have been through a lot together: A Kangaroo tour, a grand final victory lap and the dreadful event that we both somehow had to come to terms with ...the death of my little brother, Ben. The night Ben died marked the end of the age of innocence for Mark, for me and for many of our friends. For the first time all of us had to stand up and face the reality of life - and death. I can tell you that it hurt ...very badly.

I've heard plenty of people say Mark Geyer has thrown away the last two years of his footballing life away. I can't be judgmental on that - Ben's death shattered Mark, as it did me and I know that like MG, I am still trying to come to grips with what happened. We have handled it the best we can, in our own ways.

People tell you that time heals the pain -but time really doesn't make the sense of loss any easier to bear or any more acceptable. Like Mark, I still really miss Ben.

It was Mark's quality of wearing his heart on his sleeve that resulted in him falling out with the Penrith boardroom not long after the accident. Eventually he was given no choice but to leave the Panthers. I know how tough that was for him because he was leaving behind something which was so close to his heart. But Penrith lost just as much as Mark did when he packed his bags and moved on, to Balmain.

Life at the Panthers just hasn't been the same since, because he was such a dominating force -on and off the field. Off the paddock it seemed that Mark and Ben were always the centre of attention with their shenanigans. The spirit that they helped build undoubtedly played its part in us winning the 1991 premiership. But having said that, I think it's a good thing that Mark didn't accept the Penrith offer to return 'home' for the last 12 matches of the 1994 season. We would have loved to have had him back on deck, but the big danger was that he would have been too comfortable back in the old scene, with his old mates. Chances are after that it would have been an enormous wrench for him to move to Perth in 1995 ...and in my opinion his new start in Western Australia is going to be a salvation for him in many ways.

For Mark, 1995 represents a brand new start to his life in football. There are new frontiers to be breached and new challenges. And in Perth Mark will have the chance to focus all his energy on what he does best -play football. At that, at his best, he is nothing short of awesome. I have been out there with Mark when he has ripped many teams apart. The match that really sticks in my mind is one we played against Norths in 1990 in which he undertook a search and destroy mission that was beautiful to watch.

I'm glad Mark Geyer's story has been told in Rugby League Rebel. At the very least the accurate and honest telling of his colourful story will give people the chance to understand him better. - Greg Alexander, June 1994