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.
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