By Dylan Cleaver
Julian Savea has scored 39 tries in 43 tests.
I’m no mathematical expert, but to the naked eye that looks like a try every 1.10256410 tests. That’s not quite as good as, say, a five-pointer every 1.0936308 tests, but still pretty good. We all loved Christian Cullen, right, but his 46 tries in 58 tests looks tight-head proppish by comparison.
But Savea’s major contribution to the sporting landscape this season has not been tries, nor thumping tackles, nor the diffusing of aerial attacks. He’s not top of the pops for anything in 2016 unless they’ve invented a stat for meh-ness.
His greatest contribution has instead been to popularise the new most stupid saying in sport*: “He’s trying too hard.”
Savea was pretty bloody awful in the first test against Wales at Eden Park this year.
“The issue here is that he’s probably trying too hard,” said coach Steve Hansen.
He was dropped for the second test, presumably to work a little more on not trying. Wouldn’t you know it, he instead seemingly spent the fortnight between the first and third tests trying.
“I could see it last night,” Fox said in the aftermath of the Dunedin dead rubber, where Savea struggled as those around him prospered. “He’s trying so desperately hard to do well, it’s almost like he’s trying too hard.”
So back to Super Rugby Savea traipsed, an environment where surely he’d be allowed to play his natural not-trying game. Surely the old Jules would return?
Alas, in the Hurricanes hard-fought win against the Blues, Savea was again largely anonymous. To make matters worse another coach, this time Chris Boyd, caught him trying.
“He tries bloody hard, Julian,” Boyd said. “He’s done a lot of extra work. He’s works hard and he’s probably got himself into the stage where he’s over-working and over-trying.”
This trying mularkey is a serious business. If what Mssrs Hansen, Fox and Boyd are saying about Savea is right, it changes the paradigm. No longer can we tell our kids we don’t mind if they succeed or fail, “just as long as you try your best”.
That’s yesterday’s thinking, get with the programme. Instead we’ll be shouting ourselves hoarse on the sidelines of Saturday morning sport, trying to get our progeny to be a little more lazy.
Perhaps it’s not just Savea. There might be a whole range of critical failures we can pin on this trying phenomenon.
Gigli – Ben Affleck trying too hard.
Scientology – Tom Cruise trying too hard.
Anything the Rolling Stones produced after 1981 – don’t be fooled into thinking they have been mailing it in, they’re actually trying super-hard.
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Whichever way you slice it up, these are trying times.
* The old stupidest saying in sport is “form is temporary, class is permanent”. No it’s not. Death is permanent. Class is temporary, form is fleeting.