He rose from his hospital bed to pen the Kangaroos’ new ode, and now Sam Thaiday is hoping the team rise even further and recall the unity dance.
Ahead of Friday’s final Anzac Test against New Zealand, Thaiday provided the latest hint that coach Mal Meninga is working on re-adopting a war dance in time for the World Cup.
“We’re in discussions with that at the moment. We have to make sure everyone wants to buy into it. Mal’s the guy that, if it is going to change, it’ll be under him,” Thaiday told AAP.
Thaiday has become the spiritual leader of the Australian team after the veteran forward inspired them to last year’s Four Nations final triumph in the UK without playing.
It was while he was injured last year that Thaiday wrote what he describes as a bush poem, which he read out to the team before they ran out at Anfield and claimed the title.
Thaiday revealed the seed was planted the moment Meninga took over as coach and held what is now considered a defining meeting before the corresponding fixture in Newcastle last year.
The Kangaroos haven’t been defeated since.
“He was trying to change a few of the things culturally within the Australian team and came up with a mantra of ‘Rise’,” Thaiday said.
“We went overseas together for the Four Nations and I just discussed with him I thought it’d be a good idea with the whole campaign to get a bush poem to help promote it.”
Recalled for the Test in Canberra, an emotional Thaiday read the ode to the squad on the opening day of the camp and has been featured in television and radio promotions.
“I sat at the front of the group this morning so no one could see me because yeah, it was emotional watching the ad,” he said.
“There was a couple of lines in there that really make you stop and think of your own journey, your own story, and that’s the whole idea behind it.”
There’s a strong chance of the unity dance being introduced in time for the World Cup at the end of the year, with discussions being held among Kangaroos officials and players.
The last pre-game cry for the Australian team was used in France in 1967.
“If all players agree to do it, it’ll be a fantastic thing,” Thaiday said.
“There’s a line in the ode that says, ‘Rise is remembering that we come from sacred land.’ And we do – we have a big indigenous representation, some of the best indigenous players ever.
“The NRL are always talking about closing the gap. These small steps are what is going to encourage indigenous kids to again, want to rise, want to go to school, want to be JT.
“I’m sure it’ll be this year at some point, whether it’s (in) time for this game or the World Cup.”