Why Sonny Bill and Buddy deserve our support.
Sonny “Bill” Williams and Lance “Buddy” Franklin both played in premiership teams this year and both will be elsewhere next year – Buddy at the mighty Sydney Swans and SBW at the even mightier (but not as popular in my house) All Blacks.
Both have been hailed champions and in the same breath they have been pilloried for disloyalty. Both of them feel, and at times look, like they are bigger than the game. Both have settled on new roles at new homes to make the most of their relatively short career span. Both have taken on a significant challenge where there is more to lose than if they had rested on their laurels.
For Buddy… another four seasons at the Hawks? Maybe another Premiership or two, a Coleman Medal… easy enough you’d reckon.
For SBW, sign on another three years with the Chooks, win next year’s premiership and the one after and probably win the Dally M once, maybe twice… easy as David Campese.
But they have both chosen the harder road.
Buddy is on an absolute hiding to nothing joining the Swans – the dribblers in Melbourne will be waiting for him to fail, when he drops his first mark and kicks out on the full the first time (and let’s be honest both are pretty likely early in the first term of round one) they will sneer and point and a little bit more saliva will cascade down their dumpy chins. If the Swans don’t make the Grand Final, the great Buddy experiment will be a disaster, if he gets caught with his pants down at the Clo’ey (just like SBW did all those years ago) the cat calls will be loud and clear from the South.
But let me tell you that what Buddy has done is brave and what the Swans have done is bloody brilliant.
Buddy will pack out the new-look SCG, he will kick plenty of goals and win plenty of fans – Sydney needs a superstar and they have just bought the best in the business. And as for Buddy? Well good on him for getting the best deal he possibly can to set him up for the rest of his life. I’ve no idea what type of bloke he is. Sure, he might be a bit of a wanker, but he just got himself a ripping NINE year deal, a house in Bondi and he’s sleeping with Jesinta Campbell – I say BOOM BOOM BUDDY BOOM.
Good on you, son.
But I reckon Sonny Bill is even better than Buddy. Braver. Bolder. He is going from my team (the Roosters) to the Waikato Chiefs and the greatest football franchise in the world, the All Blacks. He is clearly the best player in the NRL today but just two years ago he couldn’t make the All Blacks starting side, and that appears to be motivation enough for him to have another crack.
He’s also the New Zealand heavyweight boxing champion… because I guess you have to stay fit in the off-season. SBW is a freak. The most professional and complete footballing athlete of his generation and plenty of good judges credit him with playing a huge role in turning round the Chooks culture in a year.
You see, that’s the remarkable thing SBW has done at the Roosters. He (and a few others) have taken us from 13th place in 2012 to Premiers in 2013. He has shown all at our club what it takes to be a supreme professional sportsman. He’s had his bad ways and mended them completely. His second half won us the Grand Final – simple as that. Sure he’s a transit player in a club famous for the transit lounge culture – but he put as much into one year as many have in ten seasons.
And he leaves us feeling sad but bloody fortunate to have had him for a year, a Premiership year.
Some employees stay forever and become part of the furniture, some come for a year and make permanent change possible, make otherwise ordinary staff shine – just through their great skill, charisma and sheer star quality.
I don’t know about you but I reckon I’d rather hang out with a superstar for a year than a journeyman for a career. Go SBW, Go Buddy. You’re both superstars. Revel in it.