Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Test

In terms of a physical and mental test there are few things more daunting than running a marathon. I've never done so myself but tune in to coverage of one and you'll constantly hear stories of second and thirds winds, and the dreaded wall of fatigue looming over the runner as he gets closer and closer to the finish. The one thing true about a marathon is that it doesn't ever stop being a marathon. You don't get to 20 miles and get picked up by a rickshaw for a bit, you're either in for the long haul or you're out by the roadside next to Paula Radcliffe's excrement. The season is our own personal marathon and right now we're running a tough mile. The wind is blowing in our face, we're off our stride and some jokers are trying to put a move on us. Now is the time to dig deep and fight that pain.

One of the things we try to do as a team is earn the right to win a game, it can't really be any other way when you're top of the league and have been since day one. You have to keep earning that right. That wind isn't about to die down. The teams we come up against are no longer playing Sale, they are now playing 'top of the league'. Any team that matches us will claim to be as good as us, and all who beat us will claim to be better. I can't live with that, for the simple reason that it would be a lie. I think that in the two games that we've dropped points so far this term we have been defeated or held back by one team, ourselves. It may be that we don't stand up to the physical presence of team or we allowed ourselves to lose our discipline, our shape and our formula. Once the battle starts going against us in our heads it becomes twice as hard.

I see the moment that we're in right now as the crucial moment and potential defining moment of the season. We're heading off the back of dropping points into a game against the team who conquered 2nd place last week, they're also the only team that have beaten us this season. The only team we have never beaten in our history in this league. To say I want to win this game is the understatement of the century, the thirst for that victory burns inside of me, I wish for us to descend upon them like the wrath of almighty God. It is the perfect test of champions, backs a little against the wall, asked to earn our passage to a better place, these are the kind of games you want to be a part of.

For us to win we only need to do one thing, play to our potential. We know we are the best this league has to offer and now is the time for us to remember that (and have it remembered), play our game, and let everyone else try to match us. I know that there will be a lot of soul searching and that we will come to the game on Saturday with a strong will to win as always, maybe mixed with some frustration and some tiredness also. Dig deep, this is the test we need to pass to get where we want to be and it will not be easy, but then nothing worth doing ever is.

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