Back in my day. I used to hate it when an article started with those words. But back in my day, things were different. I wrote last week of the need for the Wallabies to be galvanised to make advancements in skill development on the field, but more importantly the need to come together off the field. Some hard decisions were made during the week and the word respect was bandied about for the stance that was made.
Maybe, just maybe, I am sensing something on the horizon that may change our views on the ''new-age player''. Some older values are being instilled in the squad from some of the younger players making a big contribution to the team.
The interesting selection of Nic White again this week to start the Test was significant for two reasons. One, the coach stuck with White, meaning consistency in the selection policy. Two, it gave the responsibility of wearing the No.9 jersey to a younger member of the team.
Looking back in history, some of the best players have played only a handful of Tests before being given the jersey. What separated them from others, however, even with their limited games, was their ability to direct and control play and the players. What I liked about White's performance in terrible conditions in Perth a fortnight ago was the control he showed in a tense Test.
What impressed me more was the manner in which he spoke during the week about his battle for the halfback's role with the more senior player, Will Genia.
Any young player might feel intimidated by stepping into the interim captain's shoes, but White showed a maturity through the week when asked about the situation and whether or not he was just keeping the position warm. He was confident when he spoke about not just playing second fiddle to Genia, but having competition for positions. More importantly, he has the belief that he could fill the role and fill it well.
He made mention of his rival in the battle for the position, but at the same time showed respect by saying you will have a struggle on your hands to get the jersey back. I met the man in question a while back when he was at school and what struck me was the confidence. In no way was it arrogance. It was more on the cheeky side, knowing his ability. It's a trait that has obviously been endorsed at the Brumbies where he has excelled in the past two seasons.
White is such an important asset in the make-up of this squad. Yes, there are experienced leaders in Stephen Moore, Adam Ashley-Cooper, James Horwill, Benn Robinson and Genia, but you need to get the newer crew to own the culture of the business. Once that happens, good things happen on the field as well.
I heard an interesting assessment from Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer during the week about how his team loves playing in front of their own crowds, how they love playing for their fans and knowing their responsibility. I thought this was such a pertinent point that all players know, but sometimes it just needs verbalising to remind them of their obligations. This goes for any team or any country.
Why does this statement ring true for the Wallabies? It's an understanding that the game is a business and the players have the most important role. In effect, they are the directors and we, the public, are the shareholders. Like any business, if it is failing, people lose interest. The senior crew I mentioned have a massive job in guiding the younger ones around. There needs to be an understanding that wins at the highest level translate all the way through to the children who see their heroes in the gold jersey.
We are in a congested sporting market and the players need to know their responsibilities, as Meyer mentioned. This is where I see White, even as a junior member of the team, as a future leader among the Wallabies.
Twitter - @burkey710