It’s a cold, rainy day where I am, and there’s no footy. I’ve been social distancing so long that I’m keen to go outside for a walk, even though there’s a cold breeze out there that only feels suitable when you’re braving it with an unhelpfully cold beer in your hand at the footy.
On this awful cold day, I found myself wondering what Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is up to. This is party because I need help. You’d think there not being footy would make me think about footy less, but actually I just think about it more. Mostly I think about how much I miss it, and how much fun 2019 was. One of the big reasons for that is, of course, Charnze.
Now I’m not here to tell you that Nicoll-Klokstad is a perfect footballer. He has plenty of improvement in his game, as I’ve outlined here. But Charnze was such a huge part of 2019, and promises to be similarly involved in 2020, should this kidney stone of a year ever get moving. I’m also not going to pretend what follows is really analysis. Unashamedly, I want Charnze back in my life, and here’s why.
Most people see Nicoll-Klokstad’s fearlessness in how he runs the ball, and the way he tackles in the defensive line. He clearly loves contact. But for me his fearlessness is best displayed in his willingness to fail. He came to Canberra in barely anything approaching a guaranteed spot in the squad, let alone a position in the starting side. He embraces that uncertainty; never relenting in his furious approach to football even when the team restricted and upped his contract.
For some that might be scary. For Charnze it was life-changing.
Charnze spent years playing behind Roger Tuivasa-Shek, who’s the best fullback in the world and has been for a while. For many, spending so much time with a constant reminder of how far you have to go to “make it” would be crippling. You would need a stupendous amount of self-belief to believe you could find yourself regular time in that situation. So marry that need for outrageous self-belief with the humble man who clearly values team success as much as his own, and you can consider it quite an achievement.
And that’s not to say the man doesn’t have game. With all these things that people love about him, one thing has stood out to me that shows that he’s not just a hard worker.
His ability to break a tackle – equal to that of any Raider in 2019 – and find the precise bit of space he needed saw him league the competition in in-goal escapes in 2019. This isn’t so much a skill as a conglomeration of skills. Pace, power and spatial awareness all combine when escaping the in-goal. Some of it can be coached, some of it is innate.
And of course, a massive reason anyone with a heart is a fan of Nicoll-Klokstad is that he gives a crap about other people. Now, most of us do, but Nicoll-Klokstad seems to prioritise the needs of others as highly as his own or his family. It’s a rare person that talks the talk and walks the walk. But that is Charnze.
So, on this awful day, maybe be like ya boy here and just think about Charnze for a bit. The wild weather will go, and hopefully the football will return. But Charnze will be forever.