Reading the biography of Darren Lockyer, arguably the greatest man to ever lace up a pair of rugby league boots, I was reminded of the importance of an individual giving their talents to and for the team.
League is a team sport, often defined by champion individual performances, however if the individual plays for themselves, it will be to the detriment of the team. Mid-way through his career, Darren was asked by his coach to switch positions from fullback to five-eighth. From the biography, Darren’s response and the ensuing conversation went like this:
Darren: Coach, if that’s what you want me to do, if that’s what the team needs, I’ll do it. Wayne: Well, that is what I need you to do, mate, and that is what will best serve the team. You understand by doing this a lot of what you have worked for is gone. There are no guarantees with Origin or Test selections. Everything will be different for you. Darren: I understand all that Coach. I am happy to do it.
The risk was high, both for the team and personally for Darren. Regarded as the best fullback in the game and one of the most inspirational leaders, Darren was asked to significantly change his role for the potential good of the team. This carried with it the obvious risk of personal failure, the risk of putting his almost automatic call-up to state and national teams in jeopardy, the risk of his future not being as assured.
Darren’s response highlighted 2 things that he clearly understood:
(1) the importance of team, and
(2) as a leader he needs to be the example of team before self.
An individual can only be effective as the team he’s serving. How an individual contributes to the success of his or her team and the development of fellow team members is a measure of one’s maturity and genuine team ethos.
I don’t have the athleticism of Lockyer but I can embrace his leadership attributes. I definitely don’t have the football brain or skill of Lockyer but I can place team ahead of myself. As Darren Lockyer knew, building the team enabled his personal goals to be attained.
Mal Meninga, current Queensland State of Origin coach, reflecting on Lockyer’s approach states “He (Darren) has worked to leave the game in a better state than it was in when he arrived.”
Let hope rise.
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