As Isaiah Papalii touched down for the first time in his NRL career, a spark ignited in my brain. Maybe it was the cold air restricting blood flow to my vital organs, but for a split second I thought I was onto something revolutionary, something that could change the game of rugby league, and in turn the direction of the New Zealand Warriors, forever.
What a relief.
This time last week, Warrior Nation was under attack. The noises were deafening, the opposition relentless and the suffering immense. We were weak, vulnerable, and some saw it as a perfect opportunity to come in for the kill.
Then came team-naming Tuesday, and the return of Simon Mannering gave us hope. As a veteran of many battles, and a man with great courage and commitment, he was someone we could believe in, someone who we knew would fight hard to restore honour to the Warrior name. Perhaps even more importantly, we saw a Brisbane squad depleted by Origin and injury. We saw weakness. Our belief grew stronger.
Everything we have done has led to this moment. Since February we have braved whatever the winter weather could throw at us. We’ve absorbed blow after blow, and there have been casualties — this is the nature of what we do, the price we must pay. We’ve travelled to foreign lands and fought ferocious battles in hostile territory. What we do is not easy.
There have been ups: