Throughout the regular season athletes battle to stamp their authority on a competition, and as viewers we find ourselves consistently rating their performances – week in and week out. However, high-pressure situations and postseason combat is when a player’s reputation truly takes a significant boost or a monumental downfall.
If a player has a memorable regular season but bottoms-out in the finals or playoffs, we austerely critique them based on their abysmal postseason form, and consequently they take a dive in our Personal Athlete Power Ratings (PAPR) – and visa versa. Every aspect comes under consideration; their style, their post-play celebrations, how they conduct themselves during interviews, their body language, their demeanor on and off the field, the level of effort one uses on a individual play or throughout an entire game; everything! It’s human nature to judge one on their ability to be ‘stud-like’ in circumstances of tremendous pressure – not just in the sporting world; we do this in day-to-day life.
It’s simple; star players perform throughout the regular season, champions perform in the playoffs and finals – when it matters.
Every sports fanatic has their own personal grading system for each player and all the other elements surrounds a sporting organisation. We subconsciously generate these ranking schemes and use them when evaluating a player’s value and place in a particular sports’ history; this is done personally and when we debate with other sporting nerds. In my PAPR I use the word ‘stud’ to describe one who shines in these high-pressure moments. It’s totally not a custom to just use this word willy-nilly, there are specific standards one must reach to achieve this prestigious level; different categories of studness you could say. Several factors detached from the parameters of the on field performance(s), come into consideration when attempting to use this word. Age, likeability, personality, role in the team, previous outcomes in similar situations, if they won the match, effect on a sports history; the list goes on.
Of course, athletes that I am fond of have an easier time accomplishing the stud title. In our personal ranking assessments, a player’s peculiarities get distinguished and classified differently; because after all, we process material in our own unique way.
My private meaning of the word ‘stud’ is:
“A player who dominates a game or series, or performs an outstanding play or move, in a cool and extremely effective way – the more adversity they are staring down, the more of a stud they are”.
Here are a few examples of the mechanics surrounding my PAPR:
Todd Carney – State Of Origin, Game III 2012 Conversation
Game III, at Suncorp stadium, Todd Carney nails a conversation from the sidelines to tie the game in the 71st minute. I attended the decider and this play doesn’t seem to gain the recognition it deserves; it was unbelievable! It’s more difficult to get stud points if you’re opposing one of my teams (specially the Maroons), but Todd did it. What captivated me even more was how the five eighth acted like it was nothing.
Stephen Curry – 54 points at MSG
Curry was 18/28 FGs (11/13 from downtown), 7/7 at the free throw line, 54 points, 7 assists and a team high 6 rebounds. No other player in the NBA scored more points in a single game last season. These statistics don’t do his performance justice. Stephen is 6’3” and weighs a measly 84kg. This game was nothing short of spectacular. For me, I loved watching every second, even as a Knicks fan this was unreal to witness. Curry made some significant strides in my PAPR, but lost some credit due to the fact that the Warriors lost, this was only a regular season game, and how cringe worthy some of his celebrations were.
(Curry’s move at the 50-second mark is smooth as)
Johnathan Thurston – Game III, State of Origin 2012
Phil Gould clarifies why this sequence is so impressive and stud-like. Because I’m an enormous JT admirer, he collected a few extra stud points.
Sally Fitzgibbon – Keeping Her Cool: (5:05 mark of the clip)
During the second last event (Roxy Pro, France) of the 2013 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour, two talented Austrlaian’s in Sally Fitzgibbon and Tyler Wright went head-to-head in the final. Throughout their 2013 campaign, the 19-year old Tyler has come from behind to beat Sally a few of times. Tyler kicked off the heat with a 7.00 point ride until Sally (22-years old) answered back with an 8.90. From here Tyler was chasing a 9.90 for the lead. Wright managed to sniff out a wave while Sally had priority; Tyler’s wave consisted of an air which she landed perfectly, a strong snap and some powerful turns – she scored a 10. Once again Sally was left chasing Tyler needing an 8.11 for the lead. The first wave Sally selected wasn’t great and it look like Tyler was set to steal another heat. But Sally displayed a huge amount of maturity, she picked a decent wave and sliced it up with a flurry of impressive turns and hacks. Sally’s stud-like performance scored her an 8.77 and secured her first event victory of the 2013 World Tour. Sally got a massive boost in my PAPR; she showed exceptional mental strength in a time of adversity, particulaty for a 22-year old!; the pressure was on to win the Roxy Pro France; she’s smoking hot; and as usual Sally was a massive legend in her post-heat interview. What a stud!
David Ortiz – Game-Tying Grand Slam
This literally happened two days ago (Monday, 14 October). The Red Sox were down 5-1 before Big Papi stepped up and crushed a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning, during Game 2 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS). For those that are unaware, the Boston Red Sox are in a 7-game series with the Detroit Tigers; whoever can notch up four wins advances to the World Series. Papi created history with this swing – it was the first game-tying grand slam in the postseason to come in the eighth inning or later. As I’m a Lakers fan, plus a Yankees, Giants and Rangers supporter from my 18 month stint in New York, it’s a prerequisite to dislike all New England teams; nonetheless this was a badass move; his post-match interview confirmed my decision to raise Ortiz’s in my PAPR.
Steven Gerrard – 2006 FA Cup Final
It’s difficult to be more of a badass than this. Gerrard throws out a man of the match performance, equalizes twice, with his second goal an absolutely rocket from outside the box as the stadium broadcaster announces stoppage-time; one word comes to mind, yep, stud. Liverpool went on to win in a penalty shoot-out. This game can never be taken away from Gerrard; it was so heroic that whenever fans converse on his football legacy, this match always gets cited.
These are perfect samples of stud-like behaviour for an individual game or play. A challenging feat is attaining the stud title throughout the regular season, although to grasp the label with two hands and then some in the postseason, that’s just bloody awesome; you skyrocket in my PAPR.
That’s exactly what Daly Cherry-Evans has done. Daly’s 2013 NRL campaign was remarkable; his performance thru the finals, even more astonishing. Cherry-Evans made his State Of Origin debut, tied second with Todd Carney and Johnathan Thurston for the Dally M award, reached the Grand Final, collected the Clive Churchill Medal, and gained selection in the World Cup squad. Most players have these aspirations for their entire career, let alone one season.
It’s no secret that the halves pairing of Kieran Foran (23) and DCE (24) is considered the greatest combination in the league. Both are irrefutably talented, but by no means did this status just occur over night.
Foran was a constant in Manly’s Toyota Cup side and promoted into first grade for the 2009 season. The Auckland born five eighth now has a reputation for putting his body on the line all while being incredibly consistent, and in 2011 was a genuine centerpiece for Manly’s premiership. Many forget that Foran trailed Thurston by just six votes as the Dally M standings went silent that year. However the Kiwi international was suspension following the Melbourne vs. Manly punch-up in round 25, presiding him ineligible for the medal. It was a shame, because late in 2011 Foran strung together some man-of-the-match performances while Thurston sat out injured.
It was only a few years back when a myriad of NRL clubs turned their nose up at DCE. The potent playmaker was considered too light, too lanky, and unreliable during pivotal moment.
Since Daly emerged in 2011, I’ve considered him a top-flight player, but his game truly evolved this year. In 26 regular season appearances DCE posted 11 tries, 20 try assists, 10 line breaks, 16 line break assists, 5 40/20’s, and 18 forced drop outs.
In the 2013 finals Cherry-Evans finished with 1 try, 5 try assists, 3 line breaks, and 9 tackles busts.
Most areas of Cherry-Evans game took a noteworthy step forward in 2013, yet there are two particular attributes that stood out for me; his ability to orchestrate Manly’s offense, and his mental stability throughout matches.
A vital tool Daly now harbors is his aptitude for coordinating his side, while still being able to dictate a match via his deadly running game. Cherry-Evans approach to an 80-minute duel is becoming more like that of Darren Lockyer’s. Instead of seeking the game out, nowadays DCE lets it find him, all while still communicating efficiently with is team. When a moment develops, Evans recognises, dispatches the suitable memo to his allies, and injects himself accordingly; normally resulting in a fatal outcome for the opposition. One of my favourite qualities of the 24-year old is his knack for exploiting an opposition off a quick play-the-ball. DCE sniffs out a lazy defender, an offside marker, someone out of position, or a simple overlap better than anyone.
Every set of six is different, and as a game wares on players get lethargic and their decision-making capacity gets distorted. The well-spoken Evans is cool, calm and stud-like from start to finish. Nothing was more impressive than the composure he showed during Manly’s 30-20, preliminary final victory over the Rabbitohs. Coming into the match Souths had a week off to recharge their batteries, while Manly licked their wounds after a brutal encounter with the Sharks seven days earlier. Down 14-0 just 12 minutes in, it looked to be over; DCE took control. Evans flat out dominated. Finishing the game with 2 try assists, 4 offloads, 1 tackle bust and 18 tackles – this epic stat line earned him man-of-the-match privileges. The 2 try assists came in pivotal moments; one in the 58th minute when Manly were down by 2, and the other just four minutes later which made it a 10-point game. Daly constructs every play for his team, not for the highlight video on the 6:00pm news.
DCE’s new erudition in these two topics is simply a product of his surroundings. At the Sea Eagles he works under a former half in Geoff Toovey, and is mentored by NRL immortal Andrew Johns. On top of that, his inclusion into the Origin team allows him to interact with NRL greats Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, and Cooper Cronk; exposing him to their incredible understand of the distinct intricacies of Rugby Leagues’ offensive.
DCE’s most controversial accolade was his recent appointment as the Clive Churchill Medalist. Being the first player to win the award from a losing side since 1993, Roosters fans were livid. Sydney supports were stunned as Des Morris, Alan Smith, Bob McCarthy and Bob Fulton chose not to select crowd favourite Sonny Bill Williams, James Maloney or Jake Friend.
Sonny Bill’s first half was too appalling, so dreadful that his brilliant second half only leveled him back up to par for the game. Maloney had a great game, finishing with 2 try assists, 1 line break and 1 tackle bust. But his statistics also included 3 errors (an error in a Grand Final is critical, plus Maloney was tied first in this category), and 3 missed tackles. Jake Friend had a memorable impact on the match, but when a player only sees 63 minutes of a GF, it’s very difficult to argue that they sufficiently ‘controlled’ the game exclusive of the full 80.
DCE concluded the match with 2 line breaks, 8 tackle busts, 1 try assist, and 0 errors. Daly’s performance was comprehensive from start to finish, just without the win; he’s done this all season. Certainly victory must be taken into consideration when appointing the Clive Churchill Medalist, and you could make a solid push for Jake Friend or James Maloney. The fact is, the case for DCE is virtually flawless.
If you don’t believe that DCE is a current icon in this era of Rugby League, you need your eyes, and more importantly, your brain checked. Daly Cherry-Evans is a superstar – a stud some might say.