Will the real Jamie Soward please stand up?
He’s had more than a few setbacks and plenty of critics during his relatively short career.
His now infamous tackle attempt in Round one against superstar Greg Inglis has been stamped into the minds of his doubters. Tossed aside like a rag-doll, the diminutive half had coaches and fans alike doubting whether he could cut it in the top grade.
After all, it was only two year ago Roosters and Australian coach Chris Anderson dropped him from the full-time Roosters squad, citing consistency as his key weakness.
These hurdles didn’t stop the now 25-year-old from achieving his dream to be the best league player he can be… but his own demons almost did.
“I’ve been one of those guys in the past that has taken footy a little too serious away from the game,” the speedy five-eighth admitted to Bigpond Sports Weekend.
It’s those personal problems that have seen previous coaches like Anderson and Ricky Stuart fail to inspire Soward to perform to his potential. It seemed there was only one man who could save Soward from himself... Wayne Bennett.
“He’s[Bennett] taught me how to balance my life up... to come to training and be serious and other times to joke around and really relax.
“He’s just taught me to do things that make me happy more often, really relax. Not go home and stress about footy or what I did at training.
“He’s let me play a little bit unstructured, which probably suits me a little bit more. I’m not the typical five eighth, to run to the line and set up plays for everyone. I like to play a little bit off the cuff.”
Typical is not a word you equate with Jamie Soward.
On the field he has led to Dragons to the minor premiership. Off it, he oozes confidence which can, at times, border on arrogance.
Like when he was jokingly asked about his ‘unique’ kicking warm-up, where he prances around with his chest puffed out, Soward quipped; “Well, it’s got me 228 points.”
Or like when he was asked about the confusion surrounding his place of birth; “I’m not from Wagga but they claim me, I’m actually from Canberra but Wagga claim me.”
This trait may not be a bad thing. Look at the dazzling performances of the game’s form player, Jarryd Hayne. When he stops mid-field and, seemingly in slow-motion, explodes through the opposition’s defensive line to set-up or score a try. That’s arrogance at its absolute best.
It seems Wayne Bennett has been the key that has consistently unlocked the talent of the young five-eighth.
But whether he is the man to deliver the red and whites a much desired premiership remains to be seen.
Soward, however, is just keen to get into finals footy and let Bennett do the rest.
“I’ve never played finals before so it’s all a new experience for me. But I think Wayne will take care of that...he knows how to prepare the side.”