Turning Up

BY DAN

There is little pretence to Dunamis Lui’s game.

Tackle hard. Tear into the line. Do your best. He doesn’t have the feet of Bradley Clyde. Or the mountainous body of Josh Papalii. But Dunamis did something that we don’t often realise is important: he kept turning up.

It’s a skill in a sense. A little bit determination, a little bit blinkered self belief. Dunamis came to Canberra into the same situation he’s found himself most of his career – at the back of the line watching other people get the minutes he wanted. He has his set of skills; run it hard, tackle, very occasionally dump an offload. He promised a solid performance, and most of the time that’s exactly what he delivered. I’ve always had a soft spot for Lui because of this willingness to keep putting one foot in front of the other even if the progress was only one step at a time (My own rampant mediocrity is offset by a willingness to keep plugging away – did I tell you we enter our 8th year as a blog this month? Someone tell Gladwell because I should be better at this by now).

Players like Lui won’t win you games on their own, but it’s impossible to build a successful roster without them. These players are guaranteed nothing but a contract. They have to fight for every minute, and can ill afford to complain if overlooked. They have to be ready fo fill a hole of a more talented player at a moments notice. It’s a test of character. Do your best and your barely noticed. Fail to live up to the expectations of people that expect every player to be a star, and you risk becoming a pariah. It happened to Lui in Canberra, where he became a sometimes pariah for having to temerity to make mistakes that he wasn’t good enough to be forgiven for.

Despite all this, Lui kept turning up. Yes it was his job, but he took the uncertainty, the lack of gratitude and platitudes and turned them into a 10 plus season career in the top competition in the world. He simply remained undeterred, doing his job as well as he could, persisting, and eventually the game flipped in his favour. Lui found a home as an “opener” on a top tier footy team, taking the all the brunt of the opposition forwards at the beginning of the game so that others could find easier metres when he rested. A starting spot that never felt certain was fine with him, and he found himself in a grand final, and then playing State of Origin football. It was a just reward, if not for the talent, then at least for the determination.

In the end his time at the Raiders was ended not by anything he did, but the change forced on the game by an idiot Peter V’Landys. Lui is just another victim along the way. His response was simply to be grateful for the fortune that came his way over his career, and appreciative of his final flourish in Canberra.

Word is he’s heading to Queensland to be closer to home, rather than move his family to England, where he’d probably get an opportunity to actually play for good money, stability and a bit of status and recognition. Instead he’ll just focus on his other unrecognised job of parenting. Turning up matters a lot there too. Here’s to him.

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