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The Honey Badger: answering the call of the wild

Expert
3rd February, 2013
20
3395 Reads

Given all of the negativity that seemed at times to almost suffocate last year’s Wallaby season, it was essential for the critics – whether they be in print or on TV – to largely gloss over the positives.

When you are busy bagging everything in sight, and making a living and driving ratings by doing it; saying or writing something nice doesn’t really fit with the storyline.

So it’s easier left unsaid.

Which brings me to Nick Cummins, who was one of the stories of the Test season.

If anyone had said, at the start of last year, that he would go on to achieve everything that he did, there would have been plenty of knowing nods as if to say: “Gee, he hasn’t got a clue!”

And that’s just amongst the players!

Yet, by 2012’s end, ‘Cummo’ was established on the right wing in the Test side, had entertained his team-mates to no end on the European Tour, and had led his father to make a mad dash across the Pacific Ocean at five seconds notice to get to Argentina in time to both crash the team’s usually private jersey presentation and post-game capping ceremony (in all seriousness, we were rapt to see him there), as well as making his son’s Test debut.

All in all, not a bad season’s work!

And to think, but for the absolute carnage that saw 41 players play for Australia last year (I had to search that, just to get the number right), ‘Cummo’ might never have got a look in.

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Which would have been Australia’s loss, even though the selectorial game of chance begins again in a couple of weeks, and everyone has to toss the dice and see what fate delivers them.

The competition for the wing spots is looking pretty heated.

There seemed to be a new winger every second Test last year because of all the injuries, and that was without James O’Connor, Lachie Turner and Rod Davies who were all injured before we even started.

So ‘Cummo’ is going to have his work cut out. But he did last year too and look at the results: starts in the last six Tests, with two tries, including one at Twickenham.

Then there was the biggest ‘victory’ of all – his Dad Mark evading the Argentine security to stage his own personal ground ‘invasion’ at Rosario (see picture attached) at the end of Cummo’s first Test.

It’s a dangerous past time, ground invasions in Argentina.

Locals told us that, when it happens at big soccer matches, the police sometimes can open fire – and they are good shots!

As it was, the playing field at Rosario provided a none-too-subtle hint to punters to keep clear – it was surrounded by a six-foot fence!

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But they are a resilient family, the Cummins’.

They’ve had to be!

There are eight children in all, two of whom suffer from cystic fibrosis.

This fact not only helps Nick to keep things in perspective at times of disappointments in his rugby career, it also helped win Mark last year’s Queensland ‘Father of the Year’ award, in recognition of the incredible role he fulfils caring for the whole family.

Then there’s his aunty Margie, an equally determined individual who shed a whopping 70 kilograms last year to win TV’s Biggest Loser show.

Is it any wonder why we all find Nick’s obsession with the Honey Badger so appropriate?

He’s tough Cummo. He’s patient – he was first in a Wallaby squad in 2010 but had to wait for three years, and for a heap of blokes to get injured before he finally got a go.

He’s exceedingly positive – try languishing on the wing at the Force for the last few years without any decent ball and see how you’d be going.

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He’s also great for team morale.

If ever there was a bloke who runs to the ‘beat’ of his own drum so to speak, that’s Cummo.

From his casual clothes; he tries the suave look but it doesn’t really go for him; to his general outlook on life; his ukulele, which is seldom far from his hands on travel day; and, of course, there’s the mullet.

Get into a general conversation with Cummo and it can take you anywhere.

First there’s the honey badger and the African wildlife in general. He’s also into the Norwegian outdoors at the moment, mainly due to a Christmas holiday in the winter wilds over there with his Norwegian girlfriend.

Then there’s ET. I’m not kidding.

Cummo is a believer in the existence of aliens.

Don’t dare to take the mick out of him when you start a conversation about little green men either, because he will try and knock your block off!

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But everyone is different, and different is good, especially when you are living out of everyone else’s pockets for most of the year as the modern rugby player does.

Cummo’s unique outlook on life, and the trials his family have faced, means he could never be accused of getting all consumed by rugby as some do.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s never been a prouder wearer of the Wallaby cap, and few (in the modern era anyway) have had to work harder than him to get the jersey, but Cummo’s got what Robbie [Deans] always refers to as balance.

He will give his best, roll with the ups and downs, and go again.

That’s why he was able to take the chance when it finally came, why he was so good for the Wallabies last year, and why it’s going to take a decent performer to get the gold jersey off him in 2013.