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Lessons from a rugby life


Adam Freier

A younger Adam Freier with his mum Chris at their home in 2002.

A younger Adam Freier with his mum Chris at their home in 2002. Photo: Jane Dyson

AS A rookie, there were some things I never understood - like playing well, then being dropped.

Not that 19 is overly young within Super Rugby squads nowadays, but, in 1999, I was as green as they come - a pup in a pound of old dogs, a rookie with the ACT Brumbies.

Eddie Jones' office was like the principal's, but more for life lessons, then rugby. I'd always be nervous, my insides in a convoluted knot.

''I've got some good news and some bad news. You're training really well mate, but I'm not picking you.''

Life lesson one: what is an oxymoron?

I wait for the reasons why, but he deliberately stalls the conversation, until the only thing I can hear are the crickets from the garden outside his window.

Life lesson two: don't ask why.

''Why?'' I ask.

''Who do you think you are to question my judgment, I'm the coach, I don't see your name on that door!''

He then drops his pad and pushes it towards me. ''Here you go mate, you seem to know so much, how about you run this meeting!''

Life lesson three: do not hide under the desk while the coach gives you a serve.

The tirade continues for an eternity, yet the steam eventually starts to pour back into his ears, as he ends with a final summation.

Life lesson four: ''You don't know this right now, but this decision will help make you the player you will eventually become.''

The old bull I am today, now knows exactly what he was doing back then. He was building a hunger inside me. I used to leave that office wanting to do so much more. I wanted that jersey more than any player and, if I ever got it, good luck snatching it from my grasp.

Back then I never understood that playing six solid games in a row and feeling invisible led to being dropped. You didn't appreciate that the coach knew this tournament was the toughest in the world, he knew your form was going to plateau. It wasn't the question of ''is he going to play a bad game'', it was inevitable.

Enter 2012, where we see younger players with 10 times the talent I had at 19.

They rightly find themselves starting in the jersey of their choice - they have worked just as hard as I did and appreciate it just as much. But it's a shame that many don't get to feel what it's like to lose it at a young age. But that's not their fault.

In 1999, we had the luxury of only having three Super teams in Australia and a talent pool at full capacity, where the sometimes younger, more talented player wouldn't be picked, so he could spelled or starved to become a hungrier player.

We are in a unique point in history where youngsters have to step in earlier to help maintain a higher standard of competition while our game becomes national.

Today, younger players hold their own, in fact, they dominate Australian rugby. Although it's about this time in the competition that we start to see them look flat or have an ''off day''.

There are certainly exceptions to that rule, but most rookies or second-season players fall into this category. The intensity of this tournament is at another level and we can't assume our young stars can all just keep over-delivering.

Considering the age of our stars at the Rebels, this week is our toughest challenge yet. We know that a break is around the corner and that form will be questioned and decisions made. Will this be the hunger that will inspire us to a first win over our neighbouring state?

Life lesson five: there are no illusions as to the challenge that awaits us in Sydney tomorrow night.

2 comments so far

  • Suspect Adam may have had a large night at the palace.
    wicks wicks wicks

    Rah Rah
    Coogee Oval
    Date and time
    April 20, 2012, 1:10PM
    • I've been watching Super Rugby since 1996. I continue to admire the ability of Australia's young rugby players stepping up to the level and holding their own. However, Freier's article reminds us that years of experience is priceless at Super rugby standard. There will be always a need for "The old bulls" of the game....they allow these young pups to mature at a rapid rate.

      Werner K
      Date and time
      April 20, 2012, 2:15PM

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