Seb Kris didn’t play footy in 2020.
This wasn’t the same reason as many of his colleagues. Kris had been given extended leave by the Raiders before Coronavirus hit. He missed the entire season on that leave, before the club brought him back for 2021 on a trial and train contract.
I have no idea what the circumstances were that led to Kris needing the entire year away from footy, nor will I speculate. Whatever it was, it was hardly an easy option to take. Kris had to walk away from the game for a year, putting his career in the balance. He missed out on a potential extended stay at the right centre position that opened up when Curtis Scott struggled and then struggled with injury. While he was away from the game while other talents emerged in the Canberra backline, moving him from potentially next in line at centre to the back of the pack.
It was a far cry from 2019, where he cracked through for his first games, as well as his first try in the big time. In that year he had been brought in to fill the gaps in the Canberra line up caused by the injury to BJ Leilua and Michael Oldfield, and Nic Cotric’s time in origin. He seemed in the proto-BJ Leilua’s mould. Tough as nails (he lost part of his tooth filling in at lock on debut and just shrugged), thick bodied, hard running centre that wouldn’t run around defences, but could definitely have a crack at running through them. His defence felt solid and even-keeled, and there’s an argument if he was around in 2020 he would have got the minutes at right centre that eventually went to Jordan Rapana.
However, if you ever were going to stand still for a year, 2020 was the year to do it. Spending a year outside the game while his ‘in-the-squad-but-not-the-team’ brethren whittled their time away watching rather than playing meant Kris may not have lost as much ground as he normally would. Since he returned to the squad in October last year there’s been nothing but positive news about his attitude and his condition. This culminated last weekend in Raiders’ physical conditioning boss Nigel Ashley-Jones saying:
He [Kris] is killing it. Credit to himself and how he’s bounced back, and we’re excited about his 2021Nigel Ashley-Jones to raiders.com.au
Kris has put himself in the best position to succeed in 2021, and that’s worth applauding. I’ve no idea what kept him away from the game for most of 2020, but given the seriousness it was treated by the club, and the media around the club, one can assume it was a matter of substance. Resilience is a trait we often associate with successful people, and one that we should value alongside kindness and collective strength as the best things about humanity. I’ve no idea what Kris went through in 2020, but he emerged with his attitude in tact and an opportunity to make a difference in 2021.
There’s a spot in the Raiders top 30 still available for whoever can grab it. (Update: reader Jack Mitchell points out that Sportingnews.com has a more up to date list with no space in the 30. I guess we’ll wait and see if the club confirms that). Seb Kris is in a pack of players fighting for opportunities and playing time. Sometimes newer, shinier toys take the focus away from people that will contribute solidly and resolutely. Kris may not be the fastest man on earth or the next GI, nor have the pedigree of rugby league families. He may never play origin, but given the opportunity Kris can succeed in first grade.
Let’s see if he gets a chance.
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