Brad Fittler has been given the all clear by ASADA and the NRL to take part in the Auckland 9’s. Now we get to see what happens when a player that retired in 2004 decides to make a comeback in 2014.
In Rugby League it is rare that you see players retire from the game and then decide to come back even the next season. Once that drive and desire to play Rugby League leaves a player it is rare that it ever comes back.
In the past when players have retired and then made the decision to return to the playing field at a later date there has been one major issue they have faced.
Just getting back into training can take a former player that is still physically quite fit and break them down. Muscle strains and hamstring injuries are killers as the player pushes themselves to a level that they mentally know they need to be at, but that physically they just don’t have the conditioning for.
As you see with players that have played a season or two too long, it is tough watching a former great player who is off the pace and who can not compete at the level they once did. When Brad Fittler retired he was still a very good player. He probably could have played for at least one more season. That was a decade ago though….a decade worth of rust is going to show no matter how physically capable he is of playing the game.
Fittler will become a target. Just to make it to the Auckland 9’s will be an achievement in itself.
There will be players Fittler is training alongside right now that have put a target on him. Anyone would be excited to train alongside Brad Fittler, but don’t for a second think that some players in the Roosters side won’t be looking to throw him off with a stiff arm in training or rock him in a tackle just to let him know he is back.
A young player at the club will miss out on playing in the Auckland 9’s if Brad Fittler plays for the Roosters. He is 42 years old and training with a group of very driven young athletes right now. You can talk about everyone being behind him at the club and being excited all you like. Human nature dictates that some of the players he is training against wouldn’t mind being the dude that REALLY ended Brad Fittler’s comeback.
A player as great as Brad Fittler will be use to that sort of thing. He was a target his entire career. If he can stay fit through training and makes it to the Auckland 9’s…then it becomes a whole new ballgame.
Players in opposition Auckland 9’s teams will unashamedly target Fittler in both attack and defense. If you think of some of the monsters running around in the NRL today and the big hits they put on week in, week out…imagine what these players will do if they get their hands on Freddy!
The Rugby League field is a very unforgiving place. It has embarrassed some of the greatest players of all time. By playing in the Auckland 9’s, Brad Fittler is really putting himself on the line.
That is what makes all of this so interesting to watch. There will be no middle ground. Fittler is either going to impress with his ability to play alongside players who are half his age, or he is going to be smashed and embarrassed by a group of players who will do him no favours at all.
I hope Fittler doesn’t break down in training. I hope he does get a chance to play in the Auckland 9’s. It takes giant balls to do what Fittler is doing right now. You have to admire him for having a go!
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com