Forget about asking Wests Tigers players Aaron Woods, James Tedesco and Mitchell Moses why all three of them decided this week to leave their club and sign with three different clubs NRL rivals for next year and beyond.
Forget about whether they left the West Tigers for more money, stability, opportunity, or the better hope of winning a Premiership.
The question I want answered is, “Why did they find it necessary to leave each other?”
Yesterday, these three brilliant footballers, along with their 14 other team mates, produced a stirring 18-12 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs. The three men in question contributed greatly to their team’s winning performance.
The scenes of jubilation at the end of the match, where Wests Tigers players celebrated and hugged each other, displayed the kind of passion and raw emotion that draws fans to support their club.
Fans will cheer for a team when they can see the individual team members obviously play for each other and never give up. These winning moments are what sport is all about.
Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi once said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious”.
These are their things that you remember most about your playing career. The victory against the odds. The fighting with your team mates for a common cause and coming out on top despite the odds being stacked against you. When you retire, these are the days you remember with such pride and satisfaction.
Trust me, when you’re playing days are done, you won’t be remembering the big contracts, fancy cars and nice houses. You remember moments. You remember achievements. You remember friendships, comradery, and togetherness.
So if these three Tigers players could fight so hard together to produce a win like the one we witnessed yesterday afternoon, then why would they want to leave each other and go their separate ways?
What more do you want out of football?
If it’s more money they craved, then I humbly suggest they will never replace the winning feelings they experienced yesterday with monthly deposits into their private bank accounts.
If it’s a Premiership success they covet, and they feel their best chances of achieving this ambition are amplified by moving to separate clubs, then again I humbly suggest, that by staying at the Wests Tigers and fighting for the day they could win a Premiership together, would provide each of these players with infinitely more enjoyment.
But that’s just me.
If it’s money that dominated their decisions, then I hope they each got a truckload.
If it’s the thought of playing with a bigger, more stable, more influential club, then I suggest they could’ve stayed together at the Tigers and helped build that club into a Premiership force. Because they are players of such influence and obvious talent, I would humbly suggest they would have gained greater satisfaction out of helping build a successful club together, than anything they may find in the future now they’ve gone their separate ways. Maybe, if they stayed together long enough and produced a few premiership wins for the Tigers, they would become legends together.
The Storm trio of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater are now revered in our game for their extraordinary achievements in Melbourne. Surely the thought of playing together and achieving something similar with the West Tigers had crossed the minds of these players?
Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe such things don’t even register with the modern-day player. They certainly don’t register with the modern-day player manager.
What yesterday’s performance by the West Tigers did prove is that professional footballers can put aside controversy and personal matters, and still produce a stellar performance on the weekend when they cross that white stripe and walk out onto the football field.
The West Tigers put the disruptions in newspaper headlines behind them and produced a stirring team effort to overcome a gallant Bulldogs team.
The Tigers versus Bulldogs clash was a beauty. So much wonderful football and so many great moments. It had its fair share of controversy as well.
There was nothing in the contest from start to finish. In the end the Tigers produced a match-winning try in the dying moments of the contest to seal a much-needed victory. I felt they were the better team for most of the match and deserved their victory.
As I watch the West Tigers fans celebrate at the sound of the full-time siren, it made me realise that no matter how good certain players might be, it will never change the fact that era after era, players come and go.
The things that will remain are the spirit of the club and the loyalty of those fans who proudly wear their colours in support. These things will always stand the test of time.