Waratahs win maiden title
NSW win the Super Rugby 2014 title against the Crusaders in a thrilling 33-32 triumph at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.PT0M0S 620 349
This one was for everyone.
For Wycliff Palu, the club's longest-serving current player, who might have wondered if he would ever sit under a confetti shower belting out the team song. For Benn Robinson, the most-capped current Waratah. For Alofa Alofa, the skinny former leaguie who put in one brilliant season in the sky blue before he heads off to ply his trade in Europe. For Dave Dennis, the proud captain whose year this was until injury intervened, and Pat McCutcheon – club captain and touchstone. For Kurtley Beale, the prodigal son, and David Horwitz, the guy you've never heard of ... so far.
And for Kane Douglas, the country boy destined for a long career in sky blue until tragedy struck and upended his worldview.
''It definitely won't sink in for a few weeks, or until I realise I'm not going to training any more and I'm not going to see them guys again,'': Kane Douglas. Photo: Getty Images
Douglas played his last game for the Waratahs in the side's thrilling title win over the Crusaders on the weekend, and will be sipping Guinness with the Leinster boys at the RDS Arena in Dublin before the year is out. Before that, he had time for a few frothies with good mate Jacques Potgieter down at T.G. Millner field, where Southern Districts pipped Eastwood 38-36 in a Shute Shield qualifying final thriller on Sunday.
''It definitely won't sink in for a few weeks, or until I realise I'm not going to training any more and I'm not going to see them guys again,'' Douglas said. ''But if I'm ever going to play Super Rugby again and play in Australia again, it's going to be with the Waratahs. If I'm still playing in a few years then I'd hopefully say I'll come back to the Tahs and have another stint.''
After halfback Brendan McKibbin kicked the ball out and all hell broke loose among the first-time title winners, Douglas made it over to his father, Chris, who had travelled down from Yamba to watch his son take a tilt at NSW rugby immortality. Luke Douglas, Kane's older brother, had a game on with the Titans in Townsville on Saturday night, but they spoke before the game. Their younger sibling Jake made it to ANZ Stadium with his girlfriend and more of the Douglas clan. Only Trish Douglas, Kane's mum, was missing. They've had to learn to live with her absence over the past 15 months.
Australian team of the tournament 2014
Paul Cully picks the best XV from the Australian conference in 2014. Photo: Getty Images
''She came to a fair few games when she was still around, I know she'd be super proud of me,'' Douglas said of his mother, who passed away on May 12 last year, six months after suffering a stroke on her way to Europe to watch Kane play for the Wallabies against France. ''I saw Dad after the game, he gave me a big hug, and I know she'd be looking down on me, smiling and happy for us.''
It was that life-altering event which played a big part in the 25-year-old's decision to leave Australia just as his career was taking off. He has not been granted an early release from his contract with the Australian Rugby Union, and may yet be called up to bolster the Wallabies' second-row stocks in the upcoming Rugby Championship. He seems to have a feeling he could be back at some point in the future, but in the meantime, he will wait patiently before opening a new chapter.
''I still don't know when this one's over,'' Douglas said. ''I'll hopefully get up home and see the family and some mates before I go, and if they needed me at the Wallabies, I'm sure I'd be happy to throw the jersey on.''