Great victory smells like team spirit
September 11, 2011
I was filthy on myself after the first half against St George Illawarra on Friday night. Not with anyone else. Just myself.
I had made some errors; my kicking game was off. I was rushing things and I felt a bit anxious. I just wasn’t feeling it. We deserved to be 24-6 down, not 12-6 down, and I was blaming myself for where we were.
But the positive was that we hung in there. In the second half I wanted to get involved more, move the ball around more, and try to make the most of the opportunity we had.
Just before we made our way out for the second half, I said to the boys: ‘‘I’m going to turn it around.’’ Then I said: ‘‘Who’s with me?’’ They said: ‘‘We’re with you.’’ ‘‘Let’s go then.’’ I felt I had to. I was disappointed. Everyone else was doing their job and I felt like I wasn’t. I wanted to put it all aside and focus on what I had to do in the second half.
I took a deep breath and calmed myself down and played how I usually play. Our first half was poor; the second half was the opposite. But we were still confident that we could win. The Dragons are a tough side; they grind you out of games. But we really put the pedal down in that second half.
The great thing about this team is that we’re close enough to stick together if anything happens. There’s no fighting or bitching among us. We’ve been able to show that over the last nine weeks. We’ve all decided that no matter what is happening around us or outside us, we will stick together. We did that through all the hard times and the rubbish that was said and written about us during the year.
On that note, I’d like to make special mention of Liam Fulton, who I thought was unbelievable. He goes against everything a footballer should be - he’s not the biggest, he’s not the strongest in the gym, he doesn’t look athletic with his shirt off. He weighs only 96 kilograms. But he puts that body on the line every week, he makes his tackles and I have never played with a second-rower who runs a better line. He is so talented. For his future to be tossed in the air during the year would have been hard on him. But I can say this confidently: over the last five weeks, he has been our most consistent player.
If only my performance on Friday night was as consistent as his. Obviously it started with a fairly odd try. We’re all taught to play the whistle. I wasn’t sure if I kicked it or not but I just kept playing anyway. They’re the rules and I was given the green light. I wasn’t planning the step; it just happened. I was just happy to get over. It was a good start. After that it went a bit haywire but we turned it around.
We’re in a good place now. I don’t really care who we play from here. Whatever happens, happens.
I note we’re equal premiership favourites now alongside Melbourne. I still think it’s too early to tell. It is a wonderful achievement to be able to win nine matches in a row and break the club record. But records don’t win premierships.
More important for me is that we’ve got belief and trust in each other. No matter who drops the ball or who feels they have let the team down, we back each other up - and make amends. When Aaron Woods made a mistake, he said: ‘‘I’m going to make up for it.’’ And he did. This has become a part of our culture. We all want to stick together. We would go to war with each other. Who’s with me?