Saturday, March 24, 2018
Fitness. It’s a word that inspires contempt for some, reverence for others. Some spy it benefits, others vanish the concept to concentrate on skills. Who needs it, they surmise. We’ll simply operate our superior skill level to conjure tries galore. The match will be over by the sixtieth minute. Life’s a breeze. It was for the Canberra Raiders. Ahead 19-6 after forty-eight minutes, their breeze was a gale. They’re big and fast, what a blast. Unfortunately for the home side, that gale petered out as the visitors, the New Zealand Warriors, not so big, more small and nimble, yet just as fast, came rampaging home. Once Tohu Harris crashed over in the fifty-seventh minute, the air of irrevocability sprung its wrath. The Aucklander’s kept their tempo tuned above temporary, surveyed a weakening foe, and forged forth into the realms of victory. It may have taken until the seventy-sixth minute for Isaac Luke to dive over beside the right upright, yet it had been coming for the previous nineteen minutes. And once Shaun Johnson had converted, the Warriors, twice, traipsed the length of the field to procure themselves two field goals, and, ergo, a 20-19 victory. Very simply, this was a win for fitness – And a bloody nose for various talking heads who can’t comprehend oxygen’s myriad of advantages. In previous seasons, down 19-6, against Canberra in Canberra, this would have been a 38-6 drubbing. But, as many have pointed out, this is a side that has now garnered themselves the necessary levels of aerobic capacity. It matters. Because, despite what some would have you believe, there are units in this competition that do not possess the required aerobic levels. For fitness is not strength, fitness is not speed, fitness is, though, aerobic and the capacity to compete for long periods of time. It is what allows one to sprint faster in the seventy-fifth minute. Set a base and reach home base first. If a team is tired, all the speed in the World won’t matter one jot. As one person commented after their first-round encounter with South's, the Warriors looked capable of continuing and extending their lead at the end of eighty minutes. The same applied here. The visitors were becoming stronger as the match neared its end. And who knew Johnson could think so calmly under pressure, slotting field goals in the 78th and 79th minutes. Once again, that’s what fitness does for a player – anyone for that matter – the more oxygen going to the brain the better your thought processes. This all brings to mind the adage of the tortoise and the hare. The Tortoise won.