Sometimes when I close my eyes, I dream of hoisting the Provan-Summons trophy. I’m out there in the middle of ANZ Stadium, my arms held high, in a state of absolute ecstasy. In the distance I can see people cheering, cameras flashing and flags waving, but in my head there is silence, nothing but a sense of calm that I’ve experienced very few times before. It’s as if I am sitting alone on the side of a snow-covered Himalayan mountain, marvelling at the magnificence of the world both below and around me, or lying flat on my back in the middle of the desert, mesmerised by the brightest and fullest night sky anyone has ever witnessed. A star moves slowly from one side to the other; a painter’s careful brush stroke against the pitch black canvas. A colourful row of prayer flags waves softly in the breeze.
On other nights I find myself enclosed in a clear glass cube that would usually be too small for my now crumpled body. I don’t know how I got here and I try to push against the sides, try to find an exit, but I am unable to move. I see people outside the box and I call for their help, but no one comes to my aid. None of them hear my cries. I watch through the glass and, although it feels like I’m sending frantic signals to my brain to thrash my arms and legs with everything I’ve got, still my body does not move. I am a crumpled man stuck in a small box. With no way out.
Once I dreamed I was immobilised in a hospital bed, watching a blackbird sing at the window. The bird looked at me, and seemed to smile as his melodic tune filled the air between us. We stayed that way until the vision ended, but the dream felt like it lasted a long time. That bird sang and sang, for longer that I could imagine it would be possible to sing, and it was delightful. I think about it often.
Sometimes dreams are wonderful. Sometimes your club makes the grand final in all three grades and you book flights to Sydney immediately. Sometimes they win with a drop goal in extra time. Sometimes they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and at other times they are never really in the contest, as much as you cling to faint hope until the very end.
Sometimes dreams come true. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes it’s clear immediately whether it’s a good dream or a nightmare. Sometimes you have to wait a while to find out. Whatever happens, each dream we have changes the way we see the world, be it a completely new picture or just a fraying at the edges.
On Saturday afternoon, while my son had a nap, I stared out the living room window. My eyes were open, but my mind wandered to places far and wide. I daydreamed that one day my son would live in a Warrior Nation where he would not be judged by the total on the scoreboard but by the level of his commitment. I dreamed that one day his passion would be rewarded, that one day his children, or their children, or me and all the children, would have a moment to surpass all other moments, a moment that would be far too amazing to exist only in a dream.
I dreamed that one day Warrior Nation will be united in celebration, that one day its people will join hands with their fellow brothers and sisters of the land and sing songs of pride and songs of joy.
I had a dream that one day we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of offloads and line breaks. Although can be difficult to hew a stone of hope from a mountain of despair, dreams like this give me hope that the bank of justice is not empty, they inspire me to believe that a time will come when the vault of happiness will be overflowing and that the excess will be distributed throughout the land. That one day Warrior Nation will rise up and become the true champions of the National Rugby League.
SET OF SIX
1) Is it too little, too late to be walking players ‘out the front gate’? Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to hear the tough talk, especially after some of the more recent performances, but can Stephen Kearney’s threats really have the desired impact when there’s nothing left to play for but pride?
2) Should we judge on the outcome or the action? Both at the time and after reviewing the footage, in my mind there’s no way Sam Lisone should have been penalised for Fa’amanu Brown putting his head in the wrong position, even if the outcome from Lisone’s knee hitting Brown’s head was distressing. It was arguably the most crucial moment of the match — when Cronulla scored and converted from the resulting penalty, the game was as good as over.
3) Incomplete. Since the Warriors were unable to complete so many of their sets against the Sharks, I’ve decided that the best way to reflect my frustration is to do exactly the same and drop the ball on the third tackle. Knock-on. NRL Warrior out.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS