By Scott MacLean
You’ve had a hell of a weekend haven’t you?
Let’s start with Saturday night. It’s easy to say “What were you thinking?”, but instead what happened, happened. The Police told you to move on, and knowing what we know now and what you had in your pocket, that would have been the good idea. Instead, well… we have what we have. And in the age where anyone can be a video journalist on social media in an instant, there’s no escape from it.
Let’s chalk this one down to a really silly mistake. You’re still only 19, and like many males your age – and in fairness plenty of young women – you think you’re bulletproof. Boys will be boys and all that. You probably thought no matter what you got up to on the Surfers strip, you’d be fine, but that not how it played out, and now you’ve got consequences to face. It’s a sobering lesson you’ll learn the hard way.
But you’re not the average 19-year-old. You’re on a pedestal. You’re one of The Faces of Rugby League. You’re a prodigious talent and from what we’ve seen so far, an excitement machine that can break games open. You’ve been selected to play for your State in the highest-profile series there is in the game. You’ve inherited the #1 jersey at your club from one of the stars of the NRL of recent years, and someone who selflessly moved aside and changed positions for you. And even after the loss of Roger and Tohu robbed you of the veteran leadership you needed, you still tried to carry the club into the finals series; it’s a massive shame that included clowns named Matt, Kane, Addin, and Jazz.
There are even those that see you as a role model for others.
You probably didn’t ask for any of this. It’s a massive burden for anyone to bear and deal with, let alone someone still in their teens.
You’ve talked a bit about your upbringing and the challenges you’ve faced and overcome. That you haven’t heeded your own warnings is perhaps the really disappointing thing here.
Fame changes people and often it’s not for the better. How you handle this episode might be the difference between becoming an Immortal or someone who’s antics ultimately got them banished from the game, like Todd Carney.
But you’ve taken the right first steps. You’ve owned up to what happened, agreed a course of action with the Warriors, acknowledged you’ll have to face some questions, and pledged to be a better person. And undoubtedly you’ve had to look your family in the eye, especially your partner and baby girl. That would have been tough, and hopefully a realisation that it’s about something bigger than just you.
There’s a road ahead of you in the next few weeks and months you’ll have to navigate, but you won’t be short of motivation and help. And reach out to those who have gone before and faced the same challenges as league superstars who were still very young men; icons like Brad Fittler, Darren Lockyer, and Johnathan Thurston, I’m sure they’ll be happy to pass on their advice.
Your destiny is still in your own hands, but like dropping the first bomb sent your way on the field, it’s how you handle the next that matters.
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