It’s so easy to get ahead of yourself. So tempting to wonder what’s in the distance and forget about turning your head to see what’s already right there beside you.
One day you’re in a classroom reading a book about history, but it’s too hard to concentrate while you’re daydreaming about the many ways you might make history, how maybe one day there’ll be books written about you and the things you’ve done, about how you left your mark on the world. Right then, the future is an exciting place filled with dreams-come-true and best-case scenarios, with more opportunities and possibilities than you can comprehend. How can you not get ahead of yourself when life seems like something that’s still yet to come?
The next day you’re getting up early every morning and going to work and coming home and having a family and watching the news and it hits you that you’ve already lived through history, that you’ve already experienced things that people will write about, have already written about, and that you were there, have already been a part of history, even if you might not have been the main character. Now, life is something that had a beginning many years ago, something that has a past that existed long before this moment, and the future feels like it’s coming much quicker than you’d like. There’s a sense that time is running out, a realisation that if you want to achieve those goals, make those dreams come true, you can’t wait much longer. So you start asking yourself where you want to be in a year, in five years, and make well-intentioned plans to get there. And when you’re wanting to get somewhere other than where you are right now, the present may as well be the past — it’s the future you’re trying to preserve, the future where you spend your days.
It’s an ongoing cycle that spills over into all aspects of life. One game passes and immediately you start thinking about the next one, the next two, the next three and four. If this team loses and we win and then that team wins and we beat them the following week but then these two other teams lose, then we’ll be 5th, or 4th, or 8th, or 12th. Instead of enjoying the moment, savouring the sweet flavour of the Top 8, you look ahead at what’s to come. Is it the hope of a Premiership that keeps us moving at such a pace? Or is it fear that drives us forward? An irrational concern that if we pause to take a breath, to soak in the warm glow of success, that we may never be able to get moving again?
At this juncture of the season, it’s always hard to know whether a bye week is a help or a hindrance. The break provides time to reflect, to rest and recover, to gather our thoughts and compose our frazzled nerves. But mostly the tendency is to look at the road ahead, to gaze out into a distance where it is almost possible to make out the shape of a finish line. Are you aware that there is a scenario in which the Warriors finish this season four points clear at the top of the table?
Yes, you read that correctly: four points clear.
At the top of the table.
You may think it unlikely, or that I have spent far too much time using the NRL.com ladder predictor, but it could happen, people. May I remind you we are living in a world where the words ‘Donald Trump’ and ‘US President’ can now exist in the same sentence? Impossible is nothing.
It would be easy to write about how the Warriors currently sit on 20 points, how they probably need 28 to make the playoffs, and how with eight weeks to go that means they need to win half their games to ensure that happens. One could talk about how the four remaining home games are all very winnable, but how snagging a W from one of the next two away matches would make life a whole lot easier and keep confidence levels high.
In contrast, I could mention how the men from Mt Smart have never won in Perth.
I could highlight the long road trip, how Manly has been a bogey team for years and how the Warriors have a frustrating habit of making a surge up the ladder during the Origin period before fading in the final few rounds.
But the point I’m really trying to make is that when you start thinking about all the millions of different scenarios that can take place, not just on a footy field, but in life, you can get way too far ahead of yourself and forget about the simple things, to forget about putting one foot in front of the other, and then before you know it you’ve fallen flat on your face.
That simple message should be the main focus for the Warriors this week. Forget about where Manly is on the ladder, forget about where the game is being played. Don’t look towards the playoffs, just worry about the next tackle, the next hit-up, about making that extra effort. Think about nothing more than the present. The future may be enticing, but experiences happen nowhere else but in the here and now. If the men from Mt Smart can stay in the moment, they should be too strong for this Sea Eagles side. They’re a squad almost back to full-strength (although don’t underestimate the loss of Albert Vete), playing at a ground where they should have plenty of support, up against a team struggling with both form and fitness in 2016.
A wise man once said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’ and if the Warriors can put one foot in front of the other on Saturday night, they’ll take one giant leap closer to the ultimate prize.
New Zealand Warriors vs Manly Sea-Eagles at nib Stadium in Perth, Saturday 16 July
NRL kick off: 3:30pm local (5:30pm EST, 7:30pm NZ)
Manly stormed home to steal a win the last time these teams met in Perth, can the Warriors turn the tables?
Warriors: 1. David Fusitua 2. Ken Maumalo 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Solomone Kata 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jacob Lillyman 9. Issac Luke 10. Ben Matulino 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Simon Mannering. Interchange: 14. Tuimoala Lolohea 15. Sam Lisone 16. Bunty Afoa 17. Charlie Gubb 18. James Gavet
Sea Eagles: 1 Tom Trbojevic 2 Jorge Taufua, 3 Lewis Brown 4 Matthew Wright 5 Brad Parker 6 Jamie Lyon 7 Daly Cherry-Evans 8 Darcy Lussick 9 Apisai Koroisau 10 Martin Taupau 11 Nathan Green 12 Jamie Buhrer 13 Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14 Blake Leary 15 Josh Starling 16 Addin Fonua-Blake 17 Siosaia Vave 18 Luke Burgess