The hunger to win is as plain on Nathan Hindmarsh’s face as the frequently flashed crack on his behind. At the NRL level all players are talented, they all train hard, and they all want to win. But very few of them have that crazy-eyed drive, the kind that pushes your body past its limits and never knows when to stop.
Game after game Hindmarsh goes out there and plays like it’s golden point time in State of Origin. If only you could bottle that quality and slip it into the Powerade at half time. If he were a racehorse he’d roll back his eyes, shake his big hairy mane, and run until his gigantic heart burst.
Hindmarsh formerly held the world record for the most tackles made in a single game, with 75. Think about that. That’s nearly one a minute. And it’s believed he’s the first player to have made 10,000 tackles in the NRL. The Daily Telegraph reports that Hindy has made 4183 runs for 31895 metres. If his 32-year-old legs are a little tired, you can’t blame them. But even as recently as last season the veteran made twice as many metres as the average player.
As coach Steve Kearney said this week, “He's a guy who pretty much redefined how much work one human being can get through out there on the paddock. I don't know how many times I've seen replays of him chasing down wingers and fullbacks, making that last-ditch effort that's the difference between winning and losing matches.
"He's all about heart and that's why he's so respected by everyone who plays the game, as well as loved and admired by those who watch it. He's always put the team and this club first and they are huge shoes to fill."
In a demanding game like rugby league there’s no more important quality than that heart, put simply you have to love it and you have to want it.
Loyalty, hard work, teamwork, and heart; they’re hard to put a price on.
Recently Rugby League Week reported claims from an un-named coach that Sonny Bill Williams's agent Khoder Nasser "told us the only way Sonny Bill would come back to the NRL was if he got a promise that he would be getting the most money of anyone in the game.
"That was one of a host of conditions he set down. It was about at that stage that we lost interest."
Agents are all about making demands, that’s their job, but I do hope that Sonny Bill himself has dreams for his career that go beyond collecting a weighty paycheck.
I’d like to see the man we all remember as an exciting young talent develop into a leader. I’m hoping that if he comes back to our game he’ll be burning with passion to be the best, that he’ll love his club, and that he’ll be prepared to be loyal to the club as it’s prepared to be to him.
The fact that he walked out on his team, his fans, and his coaches mid-season in 2008 isn’t perfect, but I don’t believe it warrants a life ban. We don’t know what was going on behind the scenes, and SBW was just 22 years old. He didn’t do it carelessly; his passion at the time showed it wasn’t a decision he made lightly.
I would rather a player who didn’t want to be on the team left, than stayed on resentfully. There’s nothing worse than a champion playing dead. When Todd Carney wants to turn up he is a shatteringly brilliant player. But he obviously didn’t want to be at the Roosters in 2011, making that absolutely clear both on and off the field. It’s the kind of thing that drags the whole team down. As soon as he was suspended my Roosters started to win. Willie Mason has begrudgingly played his way around several NRL and rugby union clubs over the past few years, never showing us the best of his god given abilities for more than half a game.
The Warriors are just one of the clubs that considered trying to sign SBW. Owen Glenn told the New Zealand Herald that he and Eric Watson had discussed topping a rumoured $5.6 million offer from a Sydney club. But the two cooled on the idea.
"[Eric] said no and I said no. Let them have the show pony. He's not a bad player; he's a bloody good player. But you'd be looking over your shoulder all day."
I hope SBW proves them wrong. But he has to want it. If he can combine his outstanding natural ability with a good strong dose of Nathan Hindmarsh’s heart, drive, and loyalty, he’ll be more than a star, he’ll be a legend.