Class, both on and off the field

SIR PETER LEITCH
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013

It will come as no surprise that I'm a cheerleader for the Kiwis. I wear my heart on my sleeve where my three great loves of league, the Mangere East Hawks, the Vodafone Warriors and the Kiwis are concerned.

So I was heartbroken with the 34-2 pasting we copped in the final of the World Cup at the hands of Australia. And this is where I'm going to surprise you.

I'm not going to leap the defence of the boys. I know Australia played well but we let them.

Choosing Jonathan Thurston as man of the match was a formality but Sam Thaiday, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne or Paul Gallen could all have won.

Usually after a Kiwi defeat I've been able to say they did their best but this time I'm not convinced.

We didn't play well in our last-second win over England in the semifinal but we appeared to learn nothing from that.

Yes, the Kangaroo defence was superb but it did not have much to contend with. Some of our dummy-half play was poor and at times our one-out style was predictable and taking us nowhere.

Coach Stephen Kearney was only contracted until the end of the cup and he will be weighing up his future, just as the New Zealand Rugby League will be.

Kearney might well find himself in the same position as unwanted All Whites coach Riki Herbert. There's never been any shortage of detractors and there is no escaping the fact we should have done better.

So at least I had something to smile about, courtesy of my Mangere Hawks. A friend told me he met a young woman representing the club at the Counties Manukau Sport Sporting Excellence Awards dinner on Friday.

While the club didn't win the category it was nominated for, he called her a fine ambassador and full of praise for what the Hawks achieved in the community.

I've no way of knowing who it was. But thank you. Never forget, when you are wearing the club's logo, your actions reflect on it.

He also told me he enjoyed seeing our Olympic golden girl Valerie Adams win the Supreme Sporting Excellence Award again. It was not the award he focused on. It was her humility, the fact she thanked all the other nominees, was encouraging to the junior athletes but most especially that she took the time to attend the awards.

She spoke of how important it is to her to celebrate where she is from and how proud she is that she has missed only one ceremony - while competing in Switzerland - in the last 10 years or so.

So while I am sulking about the Kiwis, it's these two women, one famous, the other unknown to me, who have restored my faith.

Many athletes have class in spades on the field but not all demonstrate it off it as well.

- Manukau Courier

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