Try time — boy how I’ve missed you.
You kept me waiting far too long — fourteen days, two hours, 29 minutes and 34 seconds — but that only made the celebrations sweeter. The Tiger Woods fist pump, the Lleyton Hewitt ‘C’mon’ — it was a moment to savour, a time to channel that inner rock star and pump up the volume.
Wasn’t it beautiful?!
And while the living room continued to applaud, a weight lifted from Sam Tomkins’ shoulders — there will be no nude run in 2015 for the Englishman.
But, even before we could finish basking in the afterglow, we were in again! Jonathan Wright couldn’t contain his excitement. For a second there, it seemed as if he might actually take flight and rise to the heavens.
They were three minutes like no other. Pure joy amidst the gloom, a stream of bright sunlight against the bleak Warrior Nation skyline. For three minutes we saw the vivid colours of the sky, we experienced its warmth, the way it felt on our skin. We saw life how it could be, how it once was, and how we wanted it to be again.
A ray of hope.
And, although it wasn’t long before the clouds returned, our pulse slowed and the rain began to fall, we’ll always have those three minutes — no one can ever take them from you.
SET OF SIX
1) The last 10 minutes of the first half gave us the best and the worst of this team right now. After back-to-back tries, it seemed as if maybe, just maybe, the Warriors were about to break out of their slump. There were players in motion, a lift in energy and even a pinpoint settling kick from Chad Townsend. But one lapse, one poor kick chase and Penrith hit back, delivering a blow that left the men from Mt Smart crumpled in a heap at halftime and unable to recover.
2) The most frustrating thing as a fan is when it looks like you’re getting out-enthused. Apart from three minutes of glory, it was the Panthers who played with more energy and desire. For much of that match, the Warriors looked lethargic, as if they were a team waiting for their season to end and, as a fan, it’s hard to understand how that could happen in a must-win game.
3) Simon Mannering looked ready to murder someone at the after-match press conference. No wonder they didn’t bother him with many questions.
4) Andrew McFadden mentioned he’s got some tired players, and it certainly looks that way. To me the exhaustion looks more mental than physical, and potentially this is a harsh lesson for all the young Warriors about the toughness it takes to pick yourself up week after week for the full 26 rounds. Will they be stronger for this experience come next year? I sure hope so.
5) Shout out to Nathan Friend. He’s not the most dynamic dummy-half in the NRL, but no one could ever criticise Friend’s dedication to the cause. Against the Panthers, he was tireless at the defensive end, making a number of last-ditch tackles and never giving up on the play. We’ve got a great replacement coming in Issac Luke, but Friend should certainly leave Mt Smart with his head held high. You’ll be remembered fondly Nathan.
6) The shoulder charge must go. I know it has already gone, and that the officiating and judicial results from the past two weeks have been head-scratching, but anyone who saw Sam Rapira hit the deck on Saturday night should now understand the reasons why we can’t have the shoulder charge in our game and stop calling for it to be reinstated. The contact with Rapira’s head looked accidental, but the way he fell to the floor sent shivers up my spine. The brain is our most valuable tool — we must protect it at all costs.
THE GOLDEN POINT
She’s going to be a tough three weeks. Five losses in a row and it doesn’t get any easier. I don’t honestly know how we’re going to hang in there Warrior Nation — it’s getting harder and harder with every passing week. My only advice is to enjoy the small victories, look for moments, for individuals who stand up and play with the desire you want to see. You may be tempted to walk away, but if we don’t stand strong, who will?