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.
As I sat down in front of the keyboard, I had every intention of crafting a well-thought-out piece about how the Warriors recent golden point heartbreak is reflective of their season to-date, how every time it seems like things are going well, that we might actually be on the verge of something great, something happens to derail the process and the rollercoaster spirals off course. How the ten-minute period where the men from Mt Smart came from 22–4 down to tie things up as the clock ticked over 80 minutes was a microcosm of what this team is capable of, but in the end it all counts for nothing without the two points. I was planning to be thoughtful, to add something to the conversation, to offer a fresh perspective and maybe encourage you to look at things in a new light.
It’s not often I feel good about a loss. In general, losing leaves a sour taste in the mouth that doesn’t go down well, but this week I find myself feeling more than satisfied, almost euphoric, licking my lips even, as if the team bus stopped at Wendy’s on the way back to Mt Smart. I’m telling you right now, get ready for finals football, Warrior Nation, this team is the real deal.
Going into this game I was nervous. I don’t like the water at the best of times, but the thought of Deep Sea Diving with Sharks on a 10-game winning streak sent a shiver up my spine. For the entire month of June there’s been a smile on my face — winners are grinners after all — but all the while that voice at the back of my head has been whispering. ‘Just wait ‘til you play someone good. Wait until you play a team who can attack, then let’s see what happens.’
We’d caught Brisbane at a good time, beat an awful Knights side, then scraped home against a Roosters team who seem to have forgotten that they are the same club who have been Minor Premiers for the past three seasons. There were encouraging signs among those three victories, but Cronulla was to be the true test to see how these men from Mt Smart stacked up against the big boys of the NRL. If you’ve been on this Warriors rollercoaster as long as I have, you will appreciate the need to sometimes fear the worst, you will understand that worrying about your hopes and dreams being savagely torn to shreds by a frenzy of Sharks is an entirely legitimate concern. Continue reading Tasty Loss
For the past two weeks, the Warriors have been splashing around the shallow end of the NRL pool. First they dive-bombed the kids from Newcastle, then they effectively drowned the Roosters’ season. Now, on Saturday evening, the men from Mt Smart head out into the big, bad ocean for a face-to-face encounter with the NRL’s deadliest creature of 2016.
Any team that wins 10 games in a row is one to be respected, but this Cronulla side looks particularly fierce. After 15 weeks of the season, they find themselves atop the NRL ladder, having already taken a chunk out of the other teams currently circling the Top 4. In Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird, they boast two of the most exciting young players in the competition, and with the likes of Fifita, Gallen, Ennis, Lewis and Wade Graham, their forward pack is among the best in the business. Once they smell blood in the water, look out. Continue reading Deep Sea Diving