Cooper Cronk’s dedication to the team is just one example of great sporting feats of courage, writes Greg Cary.
There were dozens of outstanding moments in Origin I. Feats of courage and athleticism from both sides will endure in our collective memory for as long as this greatest of rivalries continues. We will each have our own but, for me, the way Cooper Cronk handled his injury was a lesson in dignity and acceptance.
It was obvious after Cooper emerged from a messy tackle that he was in trouble. With his arm hanging by his side, it quickly became clear how much trouble. Cooper signalled to the bench that he was “gone” and needed to be replaced.
To acknowledge that he would have to leave was a tough decision. Sometimes courage dictates staying (what about Brett Morris!), while in others it’s reflected in recognising the futility (and selfishness) of fighting.
Cronk began the game well and when he left the Maroons were well on top. His start to the season has been slow and some doubted his automatic right to be on the team. Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans is the heir apparent and he came to the sideline ready to replace the injured incumbent. Cooper was there waiting and with the only arm that worked, gave him a pat on the back and wished him well.
He soon reappeared on the bench, arm in a sling to support his team. The hospital could wait. At no time did his expression change and you sensed (indeed, knew) that his thoughts remained
with the team – not his own problems or future.
In sport, as in life, we cannot always control what happens but we can control our response. It is an area where athletes can teach wider lessons. Adam Scott does so on a regular basis. Adam recently became the number one golfer in the world and with a humble smile, admitted it was “pretty cool”. As it was for those who have watched him climb the mountain as well.
Quietly spoken, thoughtful and always respectful of his peers and the game’s history, Adam has sailed the turbulent waters of elite sport with equal amounts skill, patience, hard work and gentle humour. Sometimes the quiet demeanour can disguise the level of competitive spirit and mental steel required in perhaps the toughest of solo sports.
This at the same time as surfer Sally Fitzgibbons joyfully (and with dedication and flair) challenges for the world’s top spot. Good people do finish first – regularly. It is the bully’s lie that you need to be outwardly aggressive and take no prisoners to reach the top. You see it in all walks of life. Ugly behaviour used as an excuse to gain (or maintain) success.
Meanwhile, Bernard Tomic stumbles on, seemingly oblivious to his natural talent or the way he is abusing it. After his early exit from the French Open, he said he hated the red dirt of Roland Garros. True, Roland Garros is a tough place to play. You need to do the hard work on and off court to prevail.
Little wonder that Bernard, at this stage of a career that still has the seeds of better things, finds it all too much.