South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker is free to play in next weekend’s NRL preliminary final after avoiding a ban for his slap on Manly’s Jack Gosiewski.
Jarryd Hayne, Anthony Mundine, Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau have the obvious common ground of being some of Australasia’s greatest cross-code athletes.
Many people are quick to acknowledge their great physical natural ability but they also understate the great mental strength and discipline that these men demonstrate to succeed.
The strong religious beliefs of all these men shouldn’t be ignored as being an important common trait that helps them achieve so highly in two or more very different sporting codes.
One of the many things that has stunned people regarding the ‘Hayne Change’ was the great belief he had in himself that allowed him to risk the security of a multi-million dollar contract with Parramatta to attempt to make it in the NFL.
To most people Hayne had already ‘made it’ and his desire to step outside his comfort zone seemed almost professionally irresponsible.
What motivates a man to search for such greatness!? The presence of a ‘higher power’ shouldn’t be underestimated – Hayne admitted so much in an interview with The Footy Show a few months ago.
“I’ve had my dark days in San Fran,” he confessed.
“I’ve had days where, literally, if I didn’t have my faith I’d be home. I’d be back here in a heart beat. I’ve sat in hotels, looking at ceilings.”
“There’s definitely been days when I’ve questioned it and just said, ‘What’s doing?’ But from a faith point of view, my faith is too strong for me to even consider coming back.”
Hayne’s story may be the one capturing headlines currently but the importance of people’s faith in crossing codes was something that stood out to me when interviewing many of the subjects of the 2008 publication ‘The Converts: Crossing Codes’ – written in conjunction with Bob Howitt.
Blockbusting winger Inga Tuigamala provided me with the three-hour interview that paved the way for this book to become a reality – and during this in-depth interview he talked extensively about his faith’s role in providing him with the confidence to have a go at professional rugby league.
While playing league at Wigan, ‘Inga the Winger’ also helped another subject of ‘The Converts’ book, Jason Robinson, to turn his life (and lifestyle) around by becoming a Christian.
Many people (especially in the Northern Hemisphere!) rate the twinkle-toed former England rugby captain as the most successful convert between rugby and league – while Brad Thorn, indisputably the most successful rugby league forward to switch to rugby union, remains a very staunch Christian to this day.
When you start putting all these names together, there’s plenty of evidence that makes those who have changed codes and held strong religious beliefs – and not just Christian beliefs, as seen by Anthony Mundine – to be more than a coincidence.
No, I haven’t been to church in years. But after writing this article I’m certainly considering showing face at the local church this Sunday – it just might work wonders for my code leap from cricket to golf!