Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Big Willie's back.

Willie Mason has signed to play with the Newcastle Knights for the rest of 2012. So, on first thought most of us might think Wayne has gone bonkers signing a ‘loose-cannon’ like Big Willie. Indeed, most people are genuinely sick of the guy and hope he fails.
But is Willie Mason that bad?...
This is the guy who turned up in the blue and white at the beginning of the millennium with an afro and agile running game. Sure, his name has been in more conterversial headlines than any other player, But the fans used to adore the ‘Big Willie’.

William Marshall Mason. Sounds like Eminem’s real name to be honest.

Willie Mason, taxi-fare evader, illicit social drug-taker, public urinater, outspoken media challenger. The bloke probably wouldn’t be out of place on Jersey Shore.

But everyone seems to forget, Willie Mason, 27 international matches for Australia and Tonga, 13 games for NSW, 211 NRL games and 2004 Clive-Churchill Medallist and premiership winner.

The guy loves life, rubs off his critics’ and enjoys a laugh. His no saint and would never say he was. But he was loved by all league fans in his first few years at the doggies. Huge smile and infectious laugh, but most of all, his footy did all his talking.

Rugby League is a soap-opera, everyone knows it... It's loved because it's sport’s version of Home and Away.

Rugby League doesn’t need Willie Mason the player, there will always be another kid (Unless put under the GWS spell) ready to be a prop-forward. But rugby league needs characters, and Willie is as a bigger character as they come. He doesn’t have to be that controversial character that has a say about every issue, hits out at panellists on footy shows and acts like a rock star. He needs to be the Willie we all first loved. Bring back the afro, get the crowd pumped up before games, get back into the kids footy clinics. Play good TEAM football.

This is why ‘Wayne’s World’, is where Willie will find his feet in the game again. He creates the culture that is built around team, humility and bringing the best out of yourself. Name 3 dragons players over the 3 years he was coach that created controversy on TV, in a paper or off the field? In every interview any player was placed in, they referred to the TEAM. No egos, no crap. In Wayne’s World, the little things get done right.

Back in his hometown, with some guidance and discipline from the master coach, this is sure to be the second, sorry third, no fourth coming of Willie Mason. Whatever the case, he can only be beneficial to Rugby League at the moment considering the lack of depth without a proper reserve grade. Let’s hope he is the last player on the field after games with the fans, the first one to training and leaves us with a memory of his abilities on the park. It’s the little things that will change the public’s opinion.

Willie Mason, Fan Favourite at Newcastle Knights 2012? Most will doubt it but only time will tell...