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Third-week-tour-depression, where art thou...?

I’ve never been able to put my finger on the cause of the above-mentioned phenomenon. I used to think it coincided with our schedule – touring in Australia clothed in a sundress for the first two weeks, and then leaving it for the Land of the Long Black Cloud Where It Never Stops Raining – a major buzzkill.

There was obviously cause for high hopes this year, what with our usual schedule deviating from the norm, and I looked forward to being Brisbane-bound at the start of this third week.

Just to be clear, I was referring to Australia being clothed in a sundress – because of all the sunshine she’s been having to deal with, and NOT myself... touring Australia... in a sundress.

Where was I? Oh yes, depression.

So the whistle blows in Christchurch, the score is ugly, and I’m playing witness to it all from the sidelines thanks to injury. But that’s not even it.

My good friend Wynand Olivier is sitting next to me, with what seemed at the time like a very bad knee injury. He can’t walk, and I have to help carry him to the temporary cloakrooms about 200m away. So, with Francois Hougaard on the one side already limping from an ankle injury, and also because heavily tattooed people don’t walk – they bounce – and myself on the other side with my knee, we proceed to shuffle on with him in our arms along the length of the grandstand. I can only imagine the look of it.

The taunting is obviously intense, so I just focus on the blades of grass in front of me, partly because old people are heavy, but mostly because I’m too embarrassed to look up – mostly because of the bad loss, but partly because of Hougie’s bounce.

A metaphor for the rest of the weekend it was. The wounded carrying the wounded. I stayed awake that night with Wynand, who was on a flight back to SA on Sunday morning, and we tried to use what little time we had to offer some mental back-up to each other.

That’s the weird thing about not playing – you don’t quite feel the same high as everyone else when the team wins and you didn’t play a physical part, but if you lose, everyone loses equally.

Depression is one for big entrances.

But for some reason I didn’t feel too sorry for myself. I tried to imagine what kind of treatment Kieran Read and Zac Guildford would have been subjected to had they carried Dan Carter along the front of the Eastern Pavilion at Loftus after taking a beating. It made me feel better.

In fact, the only remorse I have as we head towards the end of Week 3 is buyer’s remorse after I purchased a pair of very skinny jeans. Everything else seemed to sort itself out.

Do I miss Wynand and Hougie on tour? Yes. Would my buyer’s remorse have been worse had those two peer-pressuring shoppers stayed on? Also yes.

Do I miss my girl? Yes. Does it make me feel good when she cries for the first 20 minutes of every Skype session? Kind of... Who am I kidding – “The Rock” never cries.

I don’t quite know how I did it, but for the first time ever, third-week-tour-depression has been averted. The only reason I can think of is the fact that I really love the game at the moment. I love getting down to business, and as I’ve gotten older, hard work has become something that gives me pleasure rather than headaches, so I don’t mind being taken out of my comfort zone.

I can’t think of too many places where we’ve needed to work harder for a victory than in Brisbane, and even then we didn’t get it, so its gonna require a massive effort from us first and foremost. I’m definitely not a veteran, but I’ve been here many times before, and I’m not just talking about Suncorp Stadium. I’ve been a part of teams that have had to show resilience before, and this weekend’s game is the perfect time to do so.

Hope you guys and girls enjoy it.

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