Something happens when you pull on the uniform to represent your nation in whatever sport you're the mantis at. We've all put our bodies on the line for our local club, we've played on despite rolling your ankle early on in the match or whatever, but there's something different about international sport. It's the pride, not the pride in your individual performance which can motivate those who are after a new cash deal, but the pride you put in to your performance because your nation requires it.
It doesn't matter the situation, nor the conditions, you just simply have to keep on toiling away. You've got no choice and that's what makes them the best sportsmen and women, while you and I just enjoy the show.
The Australian cricket side have been getting taste of their own medicine, sitting out in the field, trying to do the seemingly impossible - pick up a wicket. Pakistan haven't given them an inch and while you may question the point of running in to bowl a ball to Younus Khan who looks invincible, it's simply your job. The third new ball? That doesn't mean anything positive, that just means you've been out in the field for way too long. However, it's still your job to keep running in hard, hit the deck, have a plan to get a wicket each ball. It's your job to continue to chase the ball all the way to the boundary to save a run. That's what international cricket requires and the Australians didn't get bitter or sulk, they continued to do what was required of them despite Pakistan doing as they pleased.
The All Blacks gave the USA a touch up in rugby over the weekend. But international sport is no place to give in, give up or question your motivation. The USA players kept showing up despite a cricket score being put on them, because that's what the USA jersey requires. While many in club sports would start to think about their dinner, when you're getting your ass handed to you in international sport, you just have to keep showing up.
Sione Mata'utia had a pretty average first half in his debut for the Kangaroos. The 18 year old made a few errors both with and without the ball, not to mention limping for the remainder of the game. Beau Scott had already left the field and there was no way Mata'uita was going to be able to come off. Young Sione continued to take hit ups, limping in to the defence and he then jumped in to the stars to pluck a threatening bomb out of the air. He also chased a Cooper Cronk all the way in to the corner to force Sam Tomkins in goal.
International sport requires something different, which is why it always irks me when people say this or that game doesn't matter. Why would the Kiwis play Samoa? Why would the All Blacks bother to play the USA? Why wouldn't Pakistan declare to be nice to the Australians? It's international sport and in my books, international sport is the most ruthless kind. Ruthless because you can't let up, you can't let your jersey down, you can't let your nation down just because you felt lazy.