Waka's kind gesture in defeat
The Burleigh Bears may have received a hiding at the hands of the Illawarra Cutters in Sunday's Intrust Super Championship, but one player retained some perspective by giving away shorts and socks to some young Cronulla fans.
Twelve months ago, Waka Wanahi retired from rugby league after five years playing A Grade for Burleigh on the Gold Coast, but was enticed by Bears coach Jim Lenihan to have one more season, a season that culminated with an Intrust Super Cup title and an appearance at ANZ Stadium on grand final day.
As Burleigh players mingled with the fans who had made the trip from the Gold Coast to watch them play, two young Sharks fans approached the dread-locked Wanahi and asked for some souvenirs, and he was only too happy to oblige.
“He just asked and I thought, 'Why not?'” Wanahi told NRL.com.
“I've got a fair few shorts at home so I don't mind giving mine away. I like to give all my stuff away at the end of the year.
“I like to keep my main stuff like my jerseys, that's precious to me, but anything else I can give away I like to give it away. Anyone that asks me, I don't mind.”
Proof that if you persevere good things will happen, Wanahi has signed on to play for Burleigh again next season and hopes that his little act of generosity may inspire two young footy fans to reach for the game's highest level.
“It's just a little thing, but little things become big things,” Wanahi said.
“At the end of the day, some young kid could grow up and think, 'I could do the same thing'. They might be inspired to give away their shorts when they're playing as well.”
From the opening minutes of the Intrust Super Championship, the Cutters flexed their considerable muscle and the Burleigh boys simply couldn't go with them.
Wanahi had a searching run late in the game in one of Burleigh's few attacking opportunities and said the 54-12 scoreline didn't detract from the experience of playing on rugby league's biggest day.
“Even though the result wasn't what we wanted it was unreal,” he said.
“I was really humbled and happy just to be out there, especially coming from local league to the big time in 12 months.
“I'm really happy. This time 12 months ago I'd retired, so I didn't think I would be here in this position so I'm really grateful and humbled.”