Maroons greats share advice with NRL Rookie hopefuls
He could sense the awe in their eyes as the band of NRL Rookie hopefuls listened intently to every word that Darren Lockyer said in the sheds at Langlands Park in Brisbane but Queensland legend Wally Lewis said the greatest advice he could offer was to trust what had gotten them this far.
The remaining NRL Rookies vying for an NRL contract venture to Queensland in Episode 3 tonight with their week in the Sunshine State culminating in a clash with the Queensland Universities representative team.
Before taking the field the group of Rookies were addressed by both Lewis and Lockyer who encouraged them to back their individual talents whilst contributing to the team performance at the same time.
With his father Jim a first grader in Brisbane before going on to coach, Lewis was surrounded by rugby league heroes he admired from a very young age and hoped that the Rookies could take something away from their latest experience.
"The best possible advice that we can give guys like this will be to tell them to be natural," Lewis told NRL.com.
"Play the game that's got you into this position, display the same skills that you have and don't be afraid to lead from the front.
"There's a pile of raw talent there that needs to be perfected in the best possible way but they are undoubtedly feeling the pressure a lot more than the vast majority of guys in the same age group and in the same place in their careers.
"As nervous as they are they have got to be able to produce their best to come up with something that's particularly impressive.
"Never, ever be too nervous to display that because that's the thing that got you noticed in the first place and it will be the thing that continues to be what you will be judged on in the future."
Unlike in most rugby league teams there is not always 'next week' to look forward to for the NRL Rookie aspirants who face the prospect of having their dream of winning a place on an NRL roster crushed each and every week.
More important than being an individual standout in a single challenge or game, Lewis said that the greatest attributes each of the Rookies can display is a constant search for improvement.
"Being nervous can be one of the biggest hurdles that a lot of the young men with a similar dream have but they've got to accept the fact that once they step onto the grass they're expected to improve on the performances that they had last time," said Lewis, who played 31 Origins for Queensland and 34 Tests for Australia.
"To be able to do that it's a simple fact of being hungry to the point of almost being greedy for success.
"Each time that they go out there they have to learn to do it a little bit better and while they may be a little bit disappointed at the end of it if they continue on and they aren't eliminated then they can breathe easy and realise that they have got another shot at it.
"If you're one of the bigger blokes you're not expecting him to come up with a brilliant sidestep and to fend off 40 blokes on the way to the line. What you're looking for is the improvement in how he did it from last week to this week to understand that he is continuing to improve and his performances are getting a lot better."
ACT youngster Jordan Martin summed up the mood of the group best following the visit by rugby league royalty.
"Definitely one of the most unreal things I have ever experienced. That was really awesome."
Episode 3 of The NRL Rookie airs on Tuesday, June 14 at 7.30pm on GO!
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AUSTRALIAN BROADCAST DETAILS:
Each episode will air five times during the week on free to air television across the Nine Network:
• PREMIERE – Tuesday – GO! 7.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS)
• ENCORE 1 - Wednesday - CH9 10.30PM (SYD/BRIS)
• ENCORE 2 - Saturday - CH9 1PM (BRIS)
• ENCORE 3 - Sunday - CH9 2.30PM (SYD)
• ENCORE 4 - Monday - GO! 11.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS/ADE/PER)
Please note: these time may vary from week to week so be sure to check your local guides.