Nicholas Janzen,, NRL.com
Former NSW representative Michael Gordon – in red-hot form this season for his new team Cronulla – doesn’t have a message for Blues selectors. Nope, the 2010 one-Origin player has nothing to say to those who haven’t selected him again since. Only, though, because he thinks they wouldn’t even be bothered listening.
“They’ve probably forgotten who I am!” Gordon, who played on the wing in Origin III three years ago, tells NRL.com. “I’ve been out with injury for that long.”
Gordon’s 2013 credentials at his new home in the Sutherland Shire are already impressive. In just three games the former Panther – now fully recovered from the devastating leg injury that sidelined him for much of last season – has touched down for two tries, scored 24 points, run for three line-breaks and broken 18 tackles. And the Cooma-born Tweed Coast junior says he’s only just getting started.
“I’m still finding my feet in the team and at the club,” Gordon reveals in the lead-up to Saturday’s big southern Sydney local derby with St George Illawarra.
“Obviously there are a lot of new combinations and having Toddy [Carney] back... he didn’t really train all pre-season with us. I’m just getting used to playing with guys like him and Gal [Gallen] and just getting used to the dynamics of the team. I’m still trying to find my way in but so far it’s been really good and I’m just really enjoying playing with the boys. It’s a really close-knit team.”
Gordon, the NRL’s leading point-scorer in 2010, says he’s settling in well at his new home, even with the ASADA drugs cloud hanging over the club.
“It’s been great moving here and being back by the beach and being able to go surfing and the lifestyle and all the people in and around the club,” Gordon says.
“It’s all been fantastic, even with everything that’s going on – it’s hard because it’s not affecting me but it’s affecting people I’m pretty close with. All we can do is be there for them and give them the support they need, I suppose.”
That support continues at Sharks Stadium on Saturday when Gordon will be called upon to provide plenty of thrust from the back for the black, white and blue. Already he has made the third-most metres by a fullback and his renowned evasiveness and power has seen him break through 18 tackles in just three games – the equal most by any player in the NRL in 2013.
Moving to the Sharks no doubt becomes easier when a legend like David Peachey, Cronulla’s favourite fullback of all-time, welcomes you. Peachey and Gordon were walking the same street when – as fate would have it – they bumped into each other.
“I just ran into him on the street,” Peachey, also a one-time NSW Blue, tells NRL.com. “He sort of looked very familiar, had an ice pack on his calf and was walking down the main street of Cronulla. I looked ’cause I hadn’t met him before, and I’d seen him play plenty of times for the Panthers. I turned around and walked back and said, ‘Michael?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, Peach?’ and I said ‘yeah!’ – it was just one of those things!
“It was nice to say to him ‘Welcome to the Shire and I hope everything goes well’.”
Peachey, now an ambassador for the NRL’s One Community program and the Founder of the David Peachey Foundation, says Gordon will get even better as the weeks go by and offers the Sharks’ new No.1 some words of wisdom.
“The way the Sharks play I think we’ll see a lot of him this year,” Peachey, who has now moved back to Dubbo after 20 years in the area, says.
“His support play running off those big forwards – [Andrew] Fifita… he’s always sniffing around Gallen – he’s going to realise who’s best for him rather than tire himself out on every run, making sure he’s picking his time, he’s going to be even more influential.
“I knew I could never follow Marty Lang ’cause he couldn’t pass and I was wasting my energy and my time following him – I knew I was better following a Jason Stevens or a Les Davidson.
“If he [Gordon] hasn’t worked out that now, it’ll be through the first six or seven rounds and then it’s City-Country time and hopefully a Blues jersey. He’s [played Origin] in the past, he knows what level he needs to get to and he’s got a good supporting cast around him at the Sharks.”
That the supporting cast includes the likes of Gallen and Carney – Blues representatives who Gordon wanted to play alongside at the Sharks – works in the fullback’s favour. Gordon insists he won’t be disappointed to miss out on NSW selection but, if his form permits, the club combination would certainly prove a boost for the Blues.
“Obviously you want to play rep football – every player wants to play rep football – and I got a taste a few years ago and I’ve had a lean couple of years through injury. I suppose if I focus on playing well for Cronulla week in and week out that’ll hopefully look after itself,” Gordon says.
“I might have to start bribing [Blues captain Gallen] and getting in his ear all day! It should help but you don’t want to get picked on that and I don’t think anyone would ever get picked on that, but hopefully having him around and building a combination with him will be a good thing.
“[Todd Carney] is the incumbent [five-eighth] so if they’re going to stick loyal and I can build a combination with those two, that’d go a long way to helping my cause.”
Skipper ‘Gal’ echoes the sentiments, but insists Gordon’s form needs to remain strong – otherwise he could even lose his place in the first grade line-up at Cronulla!
“He’s going good – but I think he has to, Mick,” Gallen tells NRL.com. “In the trials Nathan Gardner was one of our best players and I think there was good competition there. [Gordon’s] more than stepped up to the plate and he’s a big plus for us.
“He’s been out a while and he’s missed a lot of footy but if he keeps his form up and no-one else jumps out of the box, there’s no reason why he can’t be there [in Origin]. He has the ability to play at that level. There’s a long time between now and then but if he keeps playing well he’ll give himself every chance.”