Inglis: Self-doubt and nerves get best out of me
He is one of the greatest players of all time, but Greg Inglis has revealed his quest for continual improvement is partly driven by his own self-doubt.
Inglis told NRL.com that as he got older a sense that any game could be his last had also made him more nervous before games than when he was younger.
Darren Lockyer has often said that a fear of failure was a driving force in his own career.
Inglis has been dragged into the spotlight this week after he was allegedly racially abused by a spectator soon after the South Sydney Rabbitohs' loss to the Penrith Panthers.
The 31-year-old international, who did not want to go into great depth about the incident other than to say racism was appalling, spoke openly about the pressures he places on himself.
"I do have self-doubt. I know it doesn’t look like that, but I think that is what makes me the kind of player I am," Inglis told NRL.com.
"If you don’t have self-doubt then you’re arrogant and you’re cocky and not going to get the best out of yourself. I still get nervous. I never used to get nervous.
"I used to have little butterflies going on in club games but I suppose when you get older you get more of an awareness where you never know when it is going to be your last.
"You just have to go out and give it your all in clubland or representative football."
Inglis was speaking to NRL.com at a ticketing promotion in Brisbane for game three of the Holden State of Origin Series on July 6 at Suncorp Stadium.
The conversation was mostly about Origin football, where he has played 30 games for the Queensland Maroons and scored a record 18 tries.
Maroons chairman of selectors Gene Miles told NRL.com this week that all Inglis had to do was be fit and healthy and he'd be in the team for the series opener in Melbourne.
That was music to the ears of the South Sydney Rabbitohs captain, but at the same time he was not relying on those comforting words to guarantee his place in the side.
"I’ve known Gene since I started coming through grade and played Queensland Cup up here, and for him to come out and say that it does give me confidence," Inglis said.
"I’m glad I do have that sense of security around it after what Gene has come out and said, but I’m not just going to rely on what he said.
"I’m club captain and it is 11 weeks before Game One, so I’ve got to go back to clubland and perform the best I can week in and week out."
Miles has said the Maroons were keen to unite Inglis with Darius Boyd on the left edge.
It is a partnership that has resulted in 26 tries between the pair in the 20 Origin games they have played next to each other.
"I think we just have this understanding and connection with each other, even though we haven’t played any club football together," Inglis said.
"We work so well together whether it be in Origin camp or for Australia, but especially in Origin where we've had great people inside us like JT (Johnathan Thurston) and leaders who know what we are looking for.
"Even though we never really shared rooms, once we got on the field we knew exactly what we both wanted."
Queensland supporters will be glad to hear Inglis has no intention of pulling the pin on his Maroons career.
"As long as I am fit and healthy and happy with my game at club level I will always put my hand up for Queensland, then it is out of control whether I am selected or not," he said.
It is no coincidence his Origin career started in 2006, a year in Queensland that has its own iconic status as the one where an eight-series winning streak began.
When he speaks about 2006, and what the Maroons have meant to him ever since, there is a mystical, almost spiritual, tone to Inglis words.
"I always remember when I first started I had Steve Price, Darren Lockyer, Brent Tate, Hodgo (Justin Hodges), Cameron Smith and JT around me," Inglis said.
"They just make you want to be your best all the time. It is something about this state, that we talk about behind closed doors with this team … about when Mal [Meninga] took over and brought in seven debutants and it was backs against the wall when we were looking at four years [of series losses]."
At the start of that 2006 series NSW critics were saying it was the "end of Origin" after the Blues had won three series in a row and were on their way to a fourth after taking out the first game.
Inglis reflects on that series as one where the Maroons proved that no obstacle was insurmountable and no problem unsolvable.
"That’s how it was," Inglis said.
"No one gives Queensland any sense of hope of winning in any year, and that’s the way we like it.
"And if we do become favourites for a game, so what. We know what we are really here for. As a Queensland team, we just go about our business."
Stand next to Inglis and you see an imposing, giant of a man. Watch him play and you see that ferocious fend, the raw power and strength as he steamrolls would-be defenders at will.
Speak to him in a room where he is relaxed and you get a sense of his humility and thoughtfulness. The Rabbitohs captain has a languid way of speaking. It’s almost as though he is thinking out loud, as he often goes back to add to what he said previously.
State of Origin football has a magnetic allure for Inglis, even as a spectator. Take last year’s series for example. He was in camp with the Queensland side for the second game in Sydney, but was like a cat on a hot tin roof as he watched all three matches on the television.
"I tell you what it wasn’t fun, it definitely wasn’t fun watching it in my loungeroom," he grinned.
"I couldn’t sit still. I was nervous all day, because I know what the boys’ routine is like. I know what the boys are going through and what they are thinking.
"I was sitting at home and coming up to game day I was thinking ‘this is what they are doing at this time…waking up…having a shower…having a stretch’.
"Then game day kicked off and I was a wreck. Once you have played the game for so many years and been in that arena and in that environment, and then you are out for a year, it is twice as bad watching it."
2018 Holden State of Origin Game III is coming to Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday July 11. Don’t miss your chance to secure tickets at NRL.com/tickets