From the Grandstand by Col Hennessy


Well Father’s Day has come and gone for another year.

 I took advantage of a leave pass in front of the TV and binged out on that epic Netflix coverage “The last dance”. It follows the final year of the Chicago Bulls and in particular, Michael Jordan and his subsequent retirement. It was truly exceptional but a tad too long particularly if you are not a basketball tragic. More on that in a later column.

It did get me thinking about ‘Father Time’ and his role in the wind down of the careers of some of our best sportspeople. Currently a lot of commentators are getting impatient with Cameron Smith and his retirement date. Others think that Sonny Bill Williams is past his best and of no value to the Roosters. Then there is Benji Marshall who still wants to play but Tigers do not want him.

Let us start this discussion with Smith. He has earnt the right to make the call when it suits him. Sure, there are players behind him biding their time, but it is his call and I believe he just does not know himself. If he could be guaranteed a premiership this year, then I am sure he would retire. Fairy tales do not always come true though. He is certainly playing well, and he should not cut short his career unnecessarily. When people like JT and Johns rate him as the best player they have ever seen, why would not want him to play his 20th season, particularly when he is still playing well.

Sonny Bill Williams has made a successful return to the NRL albeit for less than 20 minutes. His presence at the club has only been positive and good for Rugby League in general. The Roosters can win the premiership with him or without him such is their depth. I can see two scenarios come the end of the season. He may not even be selected for the grand final and the club will cover it by saying he has reinjured his knee etc. On the other hand, he comes on late in the game and gets one of those magic offloads happening close to the line for the Roosters to win. Either way it will be a plus to have him at the club because going for a threepeat is an even bigger step than just consecutive premierships.

Finally, the case for Benji. What a shame the Tigers cannot find a spot for him. He is an ornament to the game. Players and supporters of all clubs respect him, and all his coaches respect him. I first saw him as a sixteen-year old carve up one of my teams when we visited the gold coast one year and he was on top of his game with his step and passing arsenal. He could easily be on standby for the Tigers while also being the skills and halves coach. He deserves it.