It’s hard to justify buying a trampoline as an adult. There are so many other things that seem more worthy or more necessary, like food and shelter, but is there a better feeling than the one you get when you leap into the air, letting gravity take its course before briefly touching the surface and springing back higher than before? Okay, you can probably think of a few things to top that, but in the moment a perfectly executed leap sure feels up there with the best of them. Try it for yourself. Jump into the air. Right now. You don’t even need a trampoline. Do it now. See how it feels.
Pretty good, right?
I don’t mean a star jump or jumping on the spot or any sort of jumping for exercise. I mean truly leaping, as a release, as if you are launching yourself into the atmosphere with the kind of conviction that suggests you genuinely don’t know when you’ll return to the Earth’s surface. Throw your arms in the air. Sometimes it’s nice to close your eyes. Maybe you prefer to tilt your head back and lose yourself in the blueness of the sky, imagining what it might be like to touch a cloud.
In that split second, as your momentum carries you into the air, you feel free. You are flying, experiencing a world that is foreign and enticing, existing in an environment normally reserved for birds and bats and airplanes and the howling wind.
Every jump is also a leap of faith. It’s an affront to gravity, an act of rebellion against this immense force of nature. What goes up must come down, and not every leap ends well. Against Penrith, the come down felt terrifying. The fall was swift and unexpectedly rough, and the people of Warrior Nation closed their eyes and braced for a tumble with the potential to crush a season.
But the tumble never came. Instead, when we opened our eyes, the sweet sight of taut fabric emerged. Almost instantly, the fear melted away. We offloaded our doubts and relaxed into the surge of adrenalin as gravity hit terminal velocity, safe in the knowledge that a bounce back was on its way. And oh boy, what a bounce back it was.
SET OF SIX
1) We’re back, Baby! Just when it seemed like the Warriors might limp to the finals, or even risk dropping out of the 8 if things really turned to custard, they pull out a dominant performance against another playoff hopeful. It was the kind of performance that makes you wonder, ‘Could they string three or four matches together like that come playoff time? It’s our year!’
2) Pure joy. Right from the outset, the men from Mt Smart looked like a side that wanted to enjoy themselves. The offloads began in the very first set, and were a feature of the afternoon. Defensive wins and Brisbane errors were met with shouts of delight and high-fives and pats on the back all around, and when the ever impressive Agnatius Paasi burst through the line to touch down in the second half, it felt like a moment of pure joy that was shared not only by the players but also by everyone in Warrior Nation.
3) Fortune favours the brave. In addition to the offloads, another highlight was the tactic to contest their own line drop outs. They only secured the ball on one occasion, but it paid huge dividends as Solomone Kata sped off downfield, eventually leading to the Issac Luke try. Perhaps the best part about having the guts to take a short drop out is that it shows a level of trust in their ability to defend their line, and when the Warriors have been defensively engaged, they’ve shown they are capable of beating anyone.
4) The club’s investment in Solomone Kata looks to be paying off. Watching the progression of Solomone Kata’s career has been a rollercoaster of emotions. He burst onto the scene as a damaging ball runner who had to work on his defensive game, and just when he seemed to turn the corner on that end, old habits returned with a vengeance. His final-play dummy-half dives for the line have raised blood pressure all throughout Warrior Nation, and in 2017 it was tough to watch former fan favourite Konrad Hurrell flourish as Kata struggled. But as this season has progressed, Kata appears to have adapted to this new Warriors’ defensive scheme and is becoming the player we all hoped he might become. It might be a little too early to get excited, given his previous inconsistency, but the signs are promising.
5) Slow and steady wins the race. Wedged into a backline of Tuivasa-Sheck, Fusitu’a, Maumalo and Kata, Gerard Beale looks like the odd one out. He rarely breaks the line or dances past defenders, but it looks as though his steadiness (coupled with Peta Hiku’s defensive issues) has won him a starting spot in the Warriors’ top 17. The move to shift Hiku to the wing and Beale back into the centres worked a treat (with the exception of a poorly timed attempt on Anthony Milford in the opening moments that almost led to a Corey Oates try), and now the biggest question is whether there is value in retaining Hiku on the bench or whether that spot would be better serviced by an extra forward.
6) Which Warriors side will we see against the Storm? It’s clear that this Warriors outfit is a different side than the ones we’ve seen in recent years. They’ve compiled the best away record in the competition, and shown an extraordinary ability to brush off heavy defeats and bounce back like they never happened. To ignore the past and focus only on the future is not easy, and it’s something they’ll need to do again this week against a Storm side welcoming back its Origin stars. But on the flipside, the very best teams don’t take days off, and it’s also been clear that when the opposition shuts down the Warriors’ back three (and Agnatius Paasi), the men from Mt Smart look lost and without a Plan B. Finding that Plan B might be the difference between a Top 4 spot — which suddenly looks like a realistic possibility again — and bowing out in the first week of the playoffs.