|An old photo of the Australian Team
The last Aussie rugby league game for the year was on in the early hours of the morning - the Four Nations Final, live from England. Yes, of course I sat up and watched it! Although, there's something really crazy about watching football at 2 am!
I wanted to write a post about it - mostly because I have no voice at the moment and can't talk, so you'll just have to put up with my words!
|Another old photo
The Four Nations was between England, Scotland, NZ and Australia, over in England. I have fond memories of late night games back in the 80s when Australia toured England then, so it's a little like revisiting my childhood, which is fun! Now there's a lot more NRL players playing in these teams, so more 'familiar' players to watch. I think it's great that guys get to represent and play at a higher level than the regular NRL games, as it often makes them much better players. They grow up somehow, take on a greater leadership role, and grow in confidence themselves. I love seeing that.
I also love seeing the bonding in the Aussie team. The first few games are always a bit of a mash-up with players not connecting and not reading each others' games. There's often a bit of one-up-man-ship, depending on the players.
Last night, I was so incredibly proud watching how much the team had grown, not only in their football but as mates (and yes, I do know it's dumb to be proud when I have no connection to it - but anyway!).
You know I have favourite players, so let me look at them first. On Cooper Cronk's side of the field, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson play outside him. The first game was a big disjointed. I could see they were working together but it wasn't quite coming off. The next game, which may not have had all 3 of them now I think of it, had the defense a bit lacking. I noticed after one try words were spoken. Last night. OMG! That combination was dynamite in attack and defense. Not a player got through their wall, even when Dugan was down in the last panicked seconds of the game. In attack, man, they were incredible. There for each other unfailingly. Ferguson would be running out of space and throw a pass in field, Dugan would be there, catch it and get it out to Cronk and the attack would go on. Not once, but 3 or 4 times. Brilliant. They just knew where each other would be and knew they'd be supported. God, I love football like that.
Cronk and Thurston are masters. They'd be swapping sides of the field depending on the play and how each other was situated. It's incredible to watch these two reading the game so spectacularly and working together so seamlessly. And when Cronk took a big hit early in the second half, the play all came off JT. To have the ability to shift the attack like that is a mark of a fantastic team.
Which comes down to the captain's incredible skill at commanding the game. Cameron Smith is amazing. He seems indefatigable. He makes the most amazing calls and has everyone around him calm and professional, always.
And there were no thugs, no showboaters, no one above another. When a try was scored, the team were all there to congratulate not only the scorer but those who worked hard to make it happen.
I wasn't a fan of a couple of guys in the team before the Four Nations...I'll have to eat my words and go back on my impressions. In the Aussie team and this campaign, they grew up and became people I liked to watch play football. They still hit hard, didn't lose their toughness, but they lost the shitty dirty stuff that pissed me off. They dropped all the bullshit and played football...and to me, that made them so much better players. I love seeing that, and I hope that in 2017 it stays in their game.
I'm so excited for the NSW Blues team next year. Some of the guys in the Aussie team will be in that team, maybe even in the leadership group, and they'll be all the better for this England tour. Oh, I'm excited for State of Origin. One of the Blues forwards said a few things that made me excited. David Klemmer said he was shocked to be picked for Australia, and was then worried about meeting the Qlders and the coach because he'd been aggressive in the State of Origin. Then he got in the team and realised he had nothing to be worried about. Later on, I heard him say how much respect he had for the coach, and how much he'd learned, and I could see that. He's out to show his football skills now, no need to prove anything to anyone any more. God, I love seeing that.
I love watching Darius Boyd play a fullback that plays in the line, knowing that his wingers will have his back if things don't go as planned, and knowing the cover defense if strong. It gives a greater dimension to his game, and to the team.
I love watching GI run off JT. I love the forward pack's dominance and belief in each other. How the interchange happens almost seamlessly, with one hard man replacing another without major changes to the game.
I like watching Michael Morgan play from the bench and develop his skills in the game, and in reading the game. I think this roving reserve role makes a better halfback because they not only watch the game, they're playing it from various positions so they know the game better. I'm going to enjoy watching him develop as a player.
I like watching Boyd Cortner and Tyson Frizell develop more. They're such great talents. I like the "older" guys working with the younger ones, like Matt Scott and Sam Thiaday with Shannon Boyd and David Klemmer.
I better stop going on. I have my newest story to finish up. Yep, another footy player one...but not exactly one that would happen anywhere but in my mind!
Go The Roos!!!