Lots of admiration for accidental hero Nathan Peats
IN A professional sporting world that is very much all about 'me', how refreshing this past week to have a nondescript bloke named Nathan Peats become a genuine breath of fresh air.
So often it's the boofheads of sport who grab the headlines, and rugby league players are an easy target. But a totally selfless act by Peats has ordained him the newest shining light of the NRL.
Peats, the former Parramatta hooker who exited the club last Thursday to ensure the hapless Eels became salary cap compliant, took a bullet for his teammates, the fans and even the dysfunctional committee.
And that's why, at the ninth minute of their match against the Rabbitohs on Friday night, the crowd at Pirtek Stadium stood as one and gave him a one-minute round of applause - even though he wasn't there.
But it wasn't just his decision to agree to leave the club mid-season that has endeared Peats to the general rugby league public.
His cheery and enthusiastic attitude to leaving the club and moving to the Gold Coast enabled Peats to capture the hearts of many.
And that he refused to be critical of a deceitful committee that virtually forced him out was another reason to admire the deeds of this impressive young man.
Obviously the switch north, to join a team sitting 13th on the ladder and 250-1 to win the premiership, wasn't the most enticing option. Nor would his preferred choice have been to leave his mates, a new home and the under-13 team he coaches.
But he did it, and he did it without a whinge. He was simply all class.
Until now, to the majority of NRL fans, Nathan Peats has been a good player with scant public profile.
The classy manner in which he responded to what could be career-changing events makes him a fine example of altruism and an accidental hero to many.
But Nathan Peats is not the only NRL player of late to have harvested some new fans.
Cowboys premiership back-rower Gavin Cooper surprised and captivated the people of his hometown of Murgon when he recently delivered the NRL premiership trophy to a fundraising event for the Mustangs JRL.
But not only did he bring home the trophy, be brought with him his grand final jersey - already framed - which he donated to the club.
The jersey raised $7100 at auction and the day's festivities - that included a dinner at which Cooper was the special guest - has boosted the coffers of his struggling junior club by $25,000.
When complimented on his generosity, Cooper merely justified his decision by saluting the Mustangs as the launching pad for his career.
As legendary coach Jack Gibson would say ... played strong, done fine.