Peter Sterling: Delving into the minds of our superstars
A number of people have asked me what I mean when I refer to players having great vision, or displaying real rugby league instinct.<br><br>Like so many of our game’s most valuable qualities they are intangibles, things that you can’t see or physically touch. In the same category as character, loyalty and desire.<br><br>Whilst they are very similar assets, in my opinion there is a subtle difference between the two. <br><br>Vision is having the ability to see more than just the obvious. <br><br>When some players catch the ball or are about to receive it, all they see is the defensive wall in front of them which means that their course of action will be to physically take it on. That doesn’t make them poor players in any sense. In most cases, that will be their job and what the coach fully expects of them. <br><br>Other players will see a little bit more and understand that there is a chance to draw and pass and maybe open up some space for a team mate.<br><br>Then there are those who will see a myriad of opportunities based on a quick assessment of what is facing them. <br><br>They have the ability to see things like a shortage of defenders, space behind the line, a “spot” player (a good player to target). In fact, a whole host of data that is immediately processed to be acted upon.<br><br>My old coach Jack Gibson was forever encouraging me to play the game based on what I would be seeing if I was sitting in the grandstand. It was always about getting your head above proceedings to be able to take in the entire picture and not just the ruck area.<br><br>It may sound strange but Jack wanted me to “play like a giraffe”.<br><br>In the opening month of this season, it has been an absolute joy to sit back and watch some real artists at work displaying their awareness and vision. It is also significant how often these players are able to impose their decision making in the simplest of ways.<br><br>On occasion, it has been as easy as moving from one side of the field to the other to deliberately isolate a defender.<br><br>Against Brisbane in Round One, Johnathan Thurston ran from open to blind to create an overlap down the shortest of sides. A quick dart to catch and pass and all of a sudden Willie Tonga was scoring in the corner to continue the Cowboys' comeback.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/telstrapremiership/gameanalyservideo/tabid/10910/default.aspx?seasonid=240&roundid=837&fixtureid=50020100102&videoquality=1&type=try&period=2&time=1632" target="_blank">Click here to watch this play on our Game Analyser</a></b><br><br>It was a similar play from Jamie Soward in Round Two in Wollongong against the Bulldogs. Jamie “saw” that by sprinting across the ruck from left to right he would put ‘Dogs winger Bryson Goodwin in “no man’s land”. A bullet pass to Brett Morris got him outside Goodwin for his second try of the night.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/GameanalyserVideo/tabId/10910/Default.aspx?seasonID=240&roundID=838&fixtureID=50020100201" target="_blank">Clicker here to see this play on our Game Analyser</a></b><br><br>Whilst both of these tries looked particularly easy, it belies the tremendous thought process of Thurston and Soward to recognize the opportunity and then make it happen.<br><br>Rugby League instinct is a little different. With vision you react to what you see, with instinct you just react.<br><br>It may be a cliché but you watch some players and know that they really did grow up on a staple diet of playing backyard footy. There is a certain way that they move and most importantly a completely natural reaction to whatever situations arise on the paddock.<br><br>It’s no surprise then to describe Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne as one of the game’s most instinctive players.<br><br>A perfect example was his effort to get out of his own in-goal area against Manly in the second round. After fielding a kick, he was confronted by a staggered but fast moving chasing team intent on securing a line drop-out. Knowing that the only priority was to get back in the field of play, Jarryd produced a goose step and a swerve to accomplish that task.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/telstrapremiership/gameanalyservideo/tabid/10910/default.aspx?seasonid=240&roundid=838&fixtureid=50020100206&videoquality=1&type=linebreak&period=2&time=1349" target="_blank">Click here to see this play on our Game Analyser</a></b><br><br>What took place afterwards was not a result of any early vision on his behalf. The fact that Timana Tahu eventually completed a 100 metre movement to score was the flow-on effect of his fullback’s instinct in knowing what was required to get out of trouble. <br><br>Last weekend we saw another full-back produce a similar piece of evasion to score his own try after a successful reaction to his situation.<br><br>The Roosters' Todd Carney was drifting across field with the ball looking to link with outside support players, when he sensed Brisbane’s Lagi Setu charge out of the defensive line. Taking advantage of the defender’s rash action, Todd very naturally swerved and changed pace to slice through untouched.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/telstrapremiership/gameanalyservideo/tabid/10910/default.aspx?seasonid=240&roundid=840&fixtureid=50020100402&videoquality=1&type=try&period=1&time=2027" target="_blank">Click here to see this play on our Game Analyser</a></b><br><br>Again, the ball-carrier didn’t sum this play up early, but merely took advantage when it presented itself. <br><br>These have been just a few of the standout plays that we have seen to kick off the 2010 season. Quite a few more were added by Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah in the Tigers' incredible second half comeback against the Raiders on Sunday.'<br><br>A number of people have asked me what happens when a player combines incisive vision with uncanny instinct.<br><br>I tell them that then you have Andrew Johns.