Tate reveals pain felt during injury struggles
For Kangaroos centre Brent Tate, Saturday night’s Four Nations final is more than just a tournament decider – it’s also a chance to make amends for the opportunities that have passed him by over the past three years.
The 28-year-old has endured a shocking run with injury in recent seasons, his misfortune seeing him miss the 2008 World Cup final and lose his place in the all-conquering Queensland squad.
But having played in all three group games of this year’s Four Nations, Tate is eyeing a rare representative trophy and is determined not to let this latest chance slip away.
“It’s a really nice reward for the hard work that I’ve had to do the last couple of years,” Tate told NRL.com. “It has been a real struggle.
“I’m just relishing being back amongst it and being around these guys. I’ve always had a great respect for playing rep footy and I’m just loving being back in the fold.”
Tate was once a regular in both the Queensland and Australian squads, but a career-threatening neck problem that first surfaced back in 2003 kicked off a series of serious injuries that has seen him spend extended periods on the sideline.
Since late 2007 he has undergone two knee reconstructions, suffered a serious hip injury that saw him miss the 2008 World Cup final and, more recently, a fractured jaw.
“It’s ridiculous,” Tate said. “You get to the point where you’ve had enough of it – you start to question why you’re doing it and why you’re putting yourself through it… but the reason you do it is because you love it.
“You play because you have moments like last Saturday night, where you run out and have 50,000 people screaming. That’s the motivation right there.”
Tate, who will join the North Queensland Cowboys in 2011, said he hoped victory on Saturday night would be enough to keep him in the minds of both national and state selectors next year after he missed Queensland’s record-breaking fifth consecutive series win earlier this season.
“It would be nice, although I’m also pretty realistic about the players we’ve got – there are a lot of young guys coming through – I get called a bloody veteran now!
“I think people think I’m over 30 but I’m still only 28 so I’ve still got a few years ahead of me, I think… if I can stay fit – that’s been the difference for me this year.
“At the back end of the year for the Warriors I was playing fit and I haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years.
“Hopefully another good performance this Saturday night will be a nice reminder that I’m still capable of playing at this level.”
Tate is one of eight Australian players to have played in all three games of this year’s Four Nations and his combination with Brett Morris on the Kangaroos’ right edge was crucial to the side’s impressive 34-20 win over New Zealand last Saturday night.
“We’ve all got a job to do and there are so many great players in this team – it’s a real bloody pleasure to be playing on the end of a backline when you’ve got guys on the inside doing such a great job,” he said.
“Unfortunately last week’s game doesn’t mean much in the end but it does give us a lot of confidence heading into the final.
“The first [two] games we probably weren’t at our best and we knew that as a group but I thought the other night was a really good performance by us.
“We probably let ourselves down at the back end of the game and the Kiwis will draw some confidence from that, so we’ll have to go to another level again, because they definitely will.
“It will be a tough game but we’re feeling pretty good about it.”