The Oxford Dictionary describes delusion as the following:
“An idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder”
Leeds Rhinos forward Jamie Peacock has described Leeds Rhinos fullback Zak Hardaker as the following:
“Defensively, there is not a better full-back in the world”
“His defence this year has been unbelievable.”
“He is better than anyone down in the NRL.”
I have no idea why Jamie Peacock would make such a ridiculous statement. Maybe he just got carried away with himself. Maybe he said it tongue in cheek. Maybe he is just a little bit caught up in a Leeds Rhinos culture that tends to push out ridiculous statements like this from time to time. Who knows?
I do know that English Rugby League supporters just shake their heads when they hear these type of statements by Super League players, coaches and administrators.
The days of preaching to an audience that is unaware of what is happening on the other side of the Rugby League world are long over. English Rugby League supporters know they are part of a global Rugby League community. They follow NRL clubs and players. They watch NRL games, they regularly see NRL highlights, they marvel at the ability of players in the NRL on a weekly basis, as we all do!
English Rugby League fans have long since come to realise that the NRL isn’t just about Australia, is it a melting pot of the games global community. It is the best of the best from each Rugby League playing nation. A competition where pantomime and pageantry are bludgeoned to death with power, speed, skill and a desire to be the best in the world.
The NRL makes fools of anyone who basks in their own greatness for any length of time. It is a competition that can humble it’s own giants. It can take a player who is at the peak of their career and quickly cast them out as a fallen star. It can all happen so fast they don’t even see it coming. Just ask Benji Marshall…
Just this week Billy Slater, one of the greatest fullbacks the game has ever seen, has come under pressure from the games best player in Greg Inglis. These are two players that stand shoulder to shoulder with the all time greats of the game. Many believe that Inglis should be handed the Queensland and Australian fullback jersey, a position Slater has held for years.
I personally agree with this line of thinking.
At the Sydney Roosters, a defending champion that is struggling under the weight of it’s own crown, we are seeing a similar battle playing out. Anthony Minicheillo, another of the games great fullbacks, is struggling to retain the Roosters fullback spot with young New Zealand star Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ready to take the number one jersey right off his back.
You see, in the NRL there is no room for sentimentality. There is no place for anyone that reflects on their own personal glory. There is no time for that. You’re a bad run of form or an injury away from the next great player taking your spot in the side.
I remember when Danny Buderus, at the very peak of his career, decided to take a test series off to rest up. He handed his Australian number 9 jersey to a bloke called Cameron Smith. Buderus never wore that jersey again.
The cutthroat, cutting edge of the entire sport, is something to behold. It’s so ruthless sometimes, and that is why I love it!
Once upon a time I would have attacked Jamie Peacock, I would have called him some stupid name and took the piss out of him. These days, it’s just not needed.
Jamie Peacock carries the burden of the comments he makes. The way I judge Peacock has nothing on the way his own countrymen will judge him for making such ridiculous comments.
It all makes me think of a young bloke called Sam. A kid that could have happily stayed at home, earned a big pile of cash, been the star of his local club and retired a local hero.
As I write this he is in New Zealand, playing for a struggling club, going through the ups and downs that come with playing on the games biggest stage, and finding that the big fish needs to leave the little pond if it ever hopes to grow.
Players like Sam Tomkins give me hope that in a generation from now we won’t see comments like this being made. Old players from an era of Super League that was made of lead but gilded in gold will no longer be the loudest voice in the English game.
At the end of the day, the worlds best players don’t seek verbal accolades from their team mates. Their greatest rewards don’t get shaped by trophy makers or the men who make medals. The best players in the world are only as good as their last game, and it is the very next game that is the greatest challenge of their entire career.
I hope that one day Zak Hardaker can count himself among those players. I hope that one day he doesn’t need a team mate to shower him with praise in an open forum. I hope that one day we see Hardaker playing in the worlds greatest competition, proving himself week in and week out against the worlds best players.
If that ever happens, I hope his defence is up to the mark…