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Death and his Friends

I’m probably going to paraphrase this next philosophy really poorly... but I believe the difference between arrogance and confidence is the following:

Arrogance is when you say you’re going to be a machine, yet you have in fact done nothing to substantiate that - no prep, no graft - it’s just talk.

Confidence is the same talk, but with the knowledge you’ve actually earned it through relentless attempts at perfecting machine-like feats.

The team wanted 4 out of 4 on tour. Now, that may sound like arrogance to some conservative ears, but take my word for it - it was confidence. Hard work was done - not just ‘yester-week’, but since ‘yester-November’. I joined them on the second week of their tour, and it struck me clearer than anything before - they are allowed to be confident in this way. They work.

So when coach Frans looked at me before the game during the part of his speech where he said how happy the team is to have me back, I could see he wasn’t hoping I would be good. He was expecting me to be great.

Now, that moment, in turn, aroused the same expectation in me, because it made me think of what I had done.

I had also worked hard.

That’s also the moment I stopped talking about “them” and “me”.

We wanted 4 out of 4 on tour.

Sadly, that dream died on Saturday.

I can go on about disappointment and regret and some of those feelings, but I’m not going to, because I don’t think we did much wrong.

Winning on tour isn’t easy, and it’s definitely never pretty. We prepared ourselves for a tough game, where our hard work would win the game for us. It paid off in the first 40 minutes - the team with the highest possession stats in the tournament had been in our 22-metre area once - where they had to settle for three points. We also received a warning at that point for repeated infringements in the red zone, which was interesting, since it was their maiden voyage into the above-mentioned area.

We had some bad luck too. On a couple of occasions - the words “advantage over” wouldn’t even be cold, just as we would simultaneously throw the speculator, and it ends up looking idiotic. I remember one period of advantage where Hougie gave a little kick over the ruck for someone to chase (the kind of chance you take when you know you’re gonna get the penalty in any case), but then the ref said those words just as he did it. Bad luck and bad timing man...

Nevertheless, when you play our kind of game, it comes down to discipline, and using the chances you do create in their territory, even if there are only 4 or 5 - especially when there are only 4 or 5. Alas, our prior warning turned into a yellow card in the middle of the second, and they capitalised. We fought back like we always do, but unfortunately we squandered a chance at the death, and we ran out of time.

End of discussion. Sorry if I bored you there - I know you guys know your rugby...

On the bright side, I’m happy to report that my hamstring held up just fine. I did, however, pop an AC joint in the 15th minute of the first half, which isn’t pleasant in any event, but in comparison to the rough road I’ve been on the past couple of months, seems like nothing to me. For those of you who don’t know what it means - it’s when your collar bone dislocates out of the joint in your shoulder. I knew I had to fight until halftime at least, since I probably would’ve been subbed at that point in any case, it being my first start in a while. Baie eina.

But believe me, if that was the Bad Man’s best attempt at breaking my spirit, and halting my comeback, I laugh in his red face. Playing on with the busted shoulder actually got me the Bumblebee trophy (award for extraordinary effort) in our post-game awards ceremony, so I want to thank him... For the record - I’ll be fine and fit for selection on Friday.

My fitness actually held up pretty nicely, and I was quite happy when coach Johan van Graan announced me as the winner of the workhorse trophy too (player with the most actions relative to minutes played).

This was all very nice - the last thing I had won before this was a toy for my bulldog Zsa Zsa, which she refuses to play with because it isn’t made of enviro-friendly materials. She’ll rather chew on my recycled teak TV unit.

Life in the hotel room with Captain Pierre Spies continues to be very entertaining. When we started out, there was a crying baby on the other side of the Skype screen and Pierre’s cute baby voice on this side. Now, in the fourth week away from home, there’s a crying baby on this side with the cute baby voice coming from that side. Delightful to behold.

I dream on with my team and, at this point in time, we’re focused on the next hurdle. Even though a dream died and we can’t get the full house of points on tour anymore, the lessons learnt will serve us well in chasing the biggest dream of all.

I guess, apart from sadness and regret, the biggest friend Death brought along was a little bit more life.

Thirteen points on tour ain’t that bad. We’re gonna have to be better next week to achieve this, but I’m confident we will be.

Can’t waste too much time writing, I have to go ice my shoulder. It’s the last week of a long long tour away from home and the ones close to you, so I better save some ice for my balls of Lindt chocolate I bought for my mommy after missing Mother’s Day - don’t want them to melt before I get back.

You guys have been asking - and here she is. Since my '68 Camaro's name is Jenny, any ideas what should I call this girl?

The Superhero known as Lopsided Man. You get pretty decent ice-packs these days... Unfortunately I don't have a photo of me icing my balls.

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