My footy team lost on the weekend.  I was neither surprised nor upset.  (I might same the same about Ferrari.)  We had a good season and I got my money’s worth.  It was going to be hard without Billy Slater, notwithstanding the great show by his replacement.  And we were beaten by a clearly better side on the night led by Jonathon Thurston.

I have spoken of this player here before.  He is clearly one of the best and most attractive sportsmen going around in this country, one of those it is a shame that we do not get to see on the world stage.  In the course of the game, he gave one my boys a spray that Mr Will Swanton in The Australian said could serve as his motto – words to the effect, omitting colour, that there was no need to act like a half-wit.  Mr Swanton says, and most would agree with him, that that is very good advice for a whole of people in and about sport in this country.

Having orchestrated a high octane win over the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night, a human pinball setting up tries with deft passes and one boomerang kick that ensured the Storm would not come back, Thurston returned to Townsville yesterday as the free-spirited, free-wheeling face and co-captain of a power-house club.  More than 1000 cheering fans greeted the team’s return at the airport.

Good grief – this might take us back to when footy was a game.

Mr Swanton commends the spray about half-wits ‘to any athlete or alleged fan who reckons they have the right to behave atrociously before blaming the heat of the moment as an excuse’.

Thurston is the poster-boy for commitment without the cringe factor.  Thurston shows you can be passionate.  You can give it your all.  And you can still be dressed in the cloak of human decency.

I commend Mr Swanton for his words.  And on Sunday evening you may want to have a look at a real champion in action.  Last night he won his fourth League Medal, so passing Andrew Johns, who I put up there with Ablett Senior.  He is the blackfella in the headgear who somehow does not get killed and, unless I am putting the kiss of death on him, passes the ball in a way you have not seen.  And you should get behind the Cowboys – they are yet to win a flag.  They are like Hawthorn in 1961.

You might also give thought to the other rugby.  There was a show last night on when South Africa won the World Cup, when Mandela went into the rooms before and presented the Cup later – a supreme moral genius of our time.  I can offer you an unsurpassable incentive for this weekend.  Australia plays England – and can knock them out.  The only advice I offer is that when we are kicking for goal, you might want to go to the dunny.  I feel better watching Jason Day with a twenty footer.

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