IT was a mid-winter Monday night a few years back and my favourite team was putting in a particularly inept performance. I yelled things at my Samsung that I’m not proud of and such was my emotional state that my wife decided it was probably best she not give me a kiss goodnight before retiring for the evening.
It was the wake-up call I needed: as much as I love my team and get great joy out of seeing them win, a loss was not something worthy of putting my marriage in jeopardy. And given the events of the past 10 days, I think it’s worth reinforcing yet again.
I am a true believer that rugby league is indeed The Greatest Game Of All but perhaps the key word in that statement is not ‘Greatest’ but in fact, ‘Game’.
When he lit up the All Stars match a month ago people on the outside looking in could only believe that life could not have been better for Ben Barba. The truth, however, was that this was a young man going through a difficult break-up and facing the prospect of seeing very little of his two young daughters whom he adores. That personal battle is being fought by thousands in society every week and NRL heroes are not immune from their debilitating effects.
And then to hear last Thursday night that promising Wests Tigers forward Mosese Fotuaika had taken his own life having suffered a serious injury in the gym just hours earlier absolutely stopped me in my tracks.
Mosese is a member of the Wests Tigers top 25 in 2013 and his young face is there in the official NRL Media Guide, an NRL debut a matter of when, not if, during the season ahead. He is one of nine children and it has been suggested that his football earnings were to go some way to supporting his large family.
I shudder at the mere thought of what must have been swirling around Mosese’s mind when he arrived home to Merrylands after training last Thursday and led to the course of action he decided to take.
Mosese was less than a month from his 21st birthday and every time I flick through the Wests Tigers pages in the Media Guide this season I will stop a moment and think of Mosese.
There is no more exciting time in rugby league than the eve of Round 1 but as our club’s fortunes ebb and flow – and our emotions with them – let’s always remember that The Greatest Game Of All is just that, a game.