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In Touch: Billy and the 'Roos to triumph like Kate

Leila McKinnon NRL.com Tue, May 03, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Billy Slater gets the chance to avenge the Four Nations loss to the Kiwis this Friday. Copyright: Action Photographics

What a proud burden it is to represent your country. The hopes and dreams of millions of your compatriots rest on your shoulders. Either, jubilant triumph and the pride of a nation await you, or despair, and the polite disappointment of those who put their trust in you.

Yes, the Australian Test team and Kate Middleton (aka the Duchess of Cambridge) have much riding on their shoulders. Selection for the top job in your field is a weighty honour. Succeed, and history beckons; fail, and hope that history will forget.

I know I have Kate/Catherine/the Duchess of Cambridge on the brain, but I know I’m not Robinson Crusoe.

More than four million Australians watched the royal wedding, and a solid one million or so throughout the country watched the Broncos game. But even Friday night footballers must confess to at least checking out Kate and Wills before kick-off. Closet wedding watchers are everywhere. 

I ran into a friend the other day and he told me on the quiet how embarrassingly excited he was about the wedding … and did I mention this friend used to play for St George? I would tell you his name, but I like his wife, and I don’t want her to have to live with the shame. 

The former Miss Middleton went through a very public nine-year selection process, beating about five million English women of her age group to become a future Queen. Of course she loves William, and chose him right back, but still, she had a bit of competition.

Selection for the Kangaroos is tough but not quite as rigorous, but it’s followed just as closely, with just as many opinions and a lot more controversy.

In fact, criticising selectors is our true national sport. The poor mugs that choose our team are on a hiding to nothing; lose, and all our criticism is justified; win, and who gives a thought to the faceless men who put our heroes on the field?

So will Justin Hodges and Jharal Yow Yeh perform the same lethal double-act for their country as they have for the Broncos? Or is Facebook’s Gregory Street on to something when he writes, "Yow Yeh is too inexperienced and may get found out by Benji"?

Will Greg Inglis bring experience and flair to the 'Roos or could Facebook’s Steven Allerby be right when he says, "Inglis? No way, out of shape and out of form"?

Then there's all the "watabouts?" What about Scott Prince? What about Gasnier? Hey guys, we can't choose them all.

But my favourite selector-haters are the die-hard Origin fans; they've whole-heartedly abandoned their country for their state. Kris Larosa said: "NSW were lucky to have four there, UP THE MARRONS" (sic – presumably he meant the Maroons and not the horse chestnuts).

QldSux of Sydney said online, "What a joke – Yow Yeh – please??????? Broncos still calling the shots."

Everyone is a critic and a lot rests on the broad shoulders of our new Kangaroos.

Who could forget Billy Slater's face, as he sat on the field after last November's Four Nations loss to the Kiwis?

"The Kiwis hold the Four Nations and World Cup trophies," Slater said. "To say they are not No.1 would be like arguing with a brick wall. You can't say we are.

"We are hungry to get it back but we will have to wait 12 months for a chance at the Four Nations and a couple of years for the World Cup."

Billy, take heart, from dear Kate. On her slim shoulders sits the burden of the resurrection of the royal family’s popularity. But did she crumble? No. Billy, your big day beckons, and let’s hope that like Kate Middleton you'll triumph.

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