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Players Interacting With Fans At Full-Time Shouldn't Go Unnoticed, It Means So Much

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Players Interacting With Fans At Full-Time Shouldn't Go Unnoticed, It Means So Much

OPINION

Ok, enough of the bad NRL news! Let’s discuss something on a much brighter note.

We always seem to focus on the negatives when it comes to rugby league, especially of late.

The drama of the rainbow jersey, bunker blunders, players either getting suspended for reasons we don’t agree with or escaping any penalty and leaving us just as confused.

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There are coaches always under fire, plenty of off field dramas, and players copping it from all angles when they are not perfect on the field every week.

So, just for a moment, allow me to highlight something good. Promote the positive. Talk about some happiness.

How amazing is it to see the NRL players interact with the fans after a match?

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This newfound habit that the players have all taken up; spending time after a game walking around to mingle with the crowd is one of the most wholesome things I have seen in a while.

Watching the joy on all the little kids – and big kids – faces when they are up close and personal with their idols is just the best thing ever.

And it is not getting anywhere near as much acknowledgment as it should.

Credit: Supplied/NRL
Credit: Supplied/NRL
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After slogging it out for a huge 80 minutes, the teams are exhausted.

They may have got the win or just had their backsides handed to them.

They have done their job and are ready to head home, but instead of walking straight off the ground to hit the showers, they are coming over to say hi to the crowd.

Thanking them for their support, taking a selfie with them, and signing autographs.

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Sharing high fives, giving knuckles, and bumping elbows – and I am all here for it.

And it’s not just at their home ground either, or even just with their own fans.

We are seeing more often on the TV coverage or on social media kids wearing their team’s jersey getting a photo with their heroes from the other club.

On Friday night after the Panthers lost to the Eels with the added stress of possibly losing Nathan Cleary for five weeks hanging over their heads, there were still Penrith players walking around CommBank Stadium well after the siren to chat with both sets of fans.

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Credit: Supplied/NRL
Credit: Supplied/NRL

On Saturday night, after leaving the match early from a devastating ankle injury, Tigers favourite Jackson Hastings was still determined to hobble around the fence of Suncorp Stadium on crutches with the rest of his teammates, trying to balance on one leg while signing memorabilia and taking photos with the crowd.

Over the weekend I got to witness this special new trend, but with my work hat off and my mum hat on.

I went to the footy, not as a reporter, but as a parent.

Taking my son to see his beloved team play, I sat in the crowd rugged up like an eskimo and cheered his side on with him.

We waited after the game with the other fans so he could see his team who he absolutely adores, and hopefully meet his idol. He got photos with most of the boys which he was just ecstatic about, and then he realised who was on his way over.

As said hero walked closer to where we were standing, my son’s hand gripped mine so tight with excitement and nervousness.

When he finally got to us, my son told him that he was his favourite player, and that he was so happy to finally meet him.

They say never meet you heroes, but thankfully this one was just as lovely and wonderful as we could have ever hoped for.

I got a beautiful photo of the two of them, and my son spent most of the car ride home looking back through all the photos of himself and the team, with the biggest smile on his face and holding back tears. Such a small moment out of the players time means the absolute world to supporters like my boy.

Credit: Supplied/NRL
Credit: Supplied/NRL

I know that the teams, clubs, and their families sacrificed plenty during Covid.

Missing out on so much, having to disrupt their lives and relocate – but the supporters suffered during that time too.

It’s been a tough few years for everyone; lockdowns, stresses of work, home school, getting sick and for many trying to pay the bills.

And not being able to enjoy going to games and cheer on their team has made a hard time even harder.

So, I’m sending a big shout out to the teams for doing this, because your fans are truly grateful.

We all appreciate that after a game it would be a struggle to get around to see everyone that is waiting, and to be perfectly honest, it’s probably the last thing you really want to be doing.

But please know how much it means to those that you do get to interact with, and that the few seconds you spend with the fans will stay with them for a lifetime.

Great work guys, and thank you.

Featured Image Credit: Supplied/NRL

Topics: Australia, NRL, Rugby League

Danielle Smith
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