Thighs and emotions

Jonathon Thurston

Victor – Thurston (image embedded from ABC online news – click image to go to page)

I’m not the best person to turn to in a discussion about rugby league. I get the general idea – these guys want to get the ball down that end so they can kick a goal*, and the others want to do the same thing down their own end. The game goes in staccato bursts where someone breaks free with the ball for a few seconds and then everyone piles on. Every now and then the ball sails magnificently through the goal posts.

In my newspaper days, I dreaded two things: being assigned a death knock, and being assigned a sports story. I managed to get out of the former but I did occasionally  have to come up with the latter. (A lot of sweat and quick research would get me over the line, there.)

I’m not the most knowledgeable or even the most interested person, but I thought I’d have a go at sporting commentary today because of the thighs and the emotions. It’s the first thing I see when watching a game of rugby league. Those giant, meaty thighs. So many of them, all piled on top of each other. A Dionysian tableau.

Steve and I watched last night’s showdown between the Broncos and Cowboys as we ate our meat-three-veg dinner (he cooked) with Bertie the black Lab at our feet. Bertie was facing not the television screen but our plates. After dinner, I took up my stitching, glancing up every now and then to another smorgasbord of thighs.

I found myself captured by two personalities: the wiry, wonderful Johnathan Thurston of North Queensland, whose thighs are not as big but more than made up for by tons of zip, and the beautiful, devastated Ben Hunt of Brisbane. By the time he cried on field after a series of mistakes I’d long abandoned the stitching and was watching, transfixed.

Ben Hunt

Defeated – Hunt (image embedded from ABC online news – click image to go to page)

All I could think about was how he’d be awake at 3am – just as I’m often awake at 3am – thinking, thinking. I hope not. I hope he slept okay. Everyone felt for him, nobody was going to rub it in, because all of his efforts were honorable, even though they ultimately failed. Badly.

Afterwards, Thurston kissed his wife and daughter, and the daughter was carrying a dark-skinned doll wearing a Cowboys outfit to match her Indigenous father and his team. It was gorgeous.

I still don’t really get the game, but I do get the celebration of body and feeling.


* Steve has just got home from work & has confirmed I don’t know much about rugby league. The object of the game is to “ground the ball over the goal line, not just kick goals”.

2 thoughts on “Thighs and emotions

  1. Barry Healy

    When living in Sydney I watched a fair bit of rugby league, more out of politeness than enthusiasm.

    On Saturday I watched the AFL grand final, even though I didn’t support either team. My kids were fascinated to hear me swearing at players and demanding free kicks from the umpire.

    And when they pointed that out to me I was fascinated by how immediately I was passionately involved in the game. It really is something primordial!

    Similarly, I now watch fascinated as my son goes off at the screen when watching soccer. His enthusiasm draws me in and I’m cheering goals from teams I’ve never heard of.

    I wrote a piece for the Green Left Weekly some time ago about a German team called St. Pauli ( That is a team which has to be seen to be believed!

  2. Anne Powles

    Like you I am no expert on Rugby a League despite great family interest.

    But there was something special in that particular game last night!

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