EXCITING TIMES

So here’s my summary of the 2012 season so far: we’re at the half way mark, our boys are 11 – 1 and we are sitting on top of the NRL table. Hurrah!

A superfluous summary for this readership, perhaps?

And whilst credit has been paid where credit is undoubtedly due, many commentators have also wondered whether we can continue our run this Friday, without Billy, Cam and Cooper. The bookies have suggested outright that we will not.

As a result, some may believe that this is a round we must simply endure, a necessary evil of the Origin period. Some may be already looking forward to the business end of the season, where blue and maroon disruptions are behind us.

I humbly suggest, however, that this is a round to be treasured, not to be wished away.

This is a special time of year. It is an opportunity to test our depth, to provide a stage on which some new stars can shine and it is a chance to marvel at the development of some of our younger established players, who will be expected to share an increased load of responsibility this week.

Personally, I think this is the week to sit up and take notice. These are exactly the right set of circumstances that will provide an opportunity for the next generation of greatness to show a glimpse of what’s to come.

At times like these, I am reminded that our established superstars were once in this position too – awaiting their opportunity to grab the ball and run with it, so to speak.

No matter how quick an ascent to stardom might seem, there is always some time spent waiting in the wings. Or on the wing, or in the centres, or on the bench, as is sometimes the case.

There is no such thing as a free or easy ride. To onlookers a player may seem like an overnight success, to the players themselves, the wait can seem like an eternity.

Until a week like this comes along and an opportunity is presented. Times like these are not only a natural part of the team development process, I would argue times like these are valuable and necessary.

As fans we simply get to watch on, hold our collective breath, and hope for something special. That something special might be an outstanding team effort, or it might be an individually brilliant performance. And goodness knows here at Melbourne we are accustomed to those!

One game that stands out in my memory was Round 13 of 2007. We took an Origin depleted side across the Tasman to take on the Warriors and came home with the points after a score-line of 2-4. Ryan didn’t even play in that game and yet it always springs to mind when I think of my proudest moments as a Storm supporter – oops, sorry Hoff.

I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone down here that we also came away with the two points in the corresponding fixture last year as well.

Wins like these are so rewarding. They are rewarding for the players who prove that they are up to the challenge of any opposition, anywhere, anytime, and rewarding for fans who can rest assured that whatever the future holds, the club is in good collective hands.

At the Storm we have in our ranks some players who will no doubt go down as some of the greatest players in the current rugby league era, and I know we are all very proud of that.

But in weeks like these we are duty bound to share that talent with Queensland, and the week-to-week objectives of this team are left in the capable hands of the players that pull on the purple jersey this week.

Weeks like these are a testament to the best thing about this sport – it takes an entire team to achieve success. I know that the team that runs out this week will be eager to prove that.

And make no mistake – it is all about the win. It might be tempting to suggest that the result is immaterial, that a good showing will be enough, but this is not the case. I believe our boys will only be happy if they put in their best. The question is, is their best good enough?

I think we all know the answer to that.

*****

A final thought…

Whenever I write COARLW posts, I try not to let me own biases and preferences get in the way of a good story and I like to think that most of the time I succeed. But today, I give up.

I hope you will all forgive me a little bias when I say – good luck to my all time favourite Melbourne Storm player (and indeed, my all time favourite person) with the captaincy this weekend! I am very proud.

And finally, a little shout out to ‘Bellyache’ on this occasion of his 250th game as coach. What can we say about a man whose influence has been so integral to the direction and success of this club? Here’s hoping a simple but heartfelt ‘congratulations’ will suffice.

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