The Greatest NRL Grand Final Ever. Lesson Number Three: When You Can’t Perform Your Role, It’s Probably Best To Make A Sideways Move…

At the start of this month, my family and I attended the Grand Final match of the NRL [National Rugby League (of Australia)] season.

The game was a hard fought game played between the two teams that finished first and second during the regular season. These two teams were the best two teams of the seventeen teams that competed throughout this season.

The team that finished first, the Penrith Panthers, were the season Premiers for 2021 and 2022, and were chasing a third straight Premiership title, a feat not seen for forty years, and a feat made very difficult to achieve because of salary-cap restrictions [spending restrictions] placed on each team in an effort to help spread the talent [of players] more evenly throughout the competition.

The team that the Panthers were to play was the Brisbane Broncos, who had finished equal first, but second on points differentials. The Broncos had been a very successful team twenty and thirty years ago, but had not won a premiership for some sixteen years.

The Broncos team was very talented, and the game was expected to be a cracker of a contest.

And it was.

After leading the Broncos 8-6 at half-time, the Panthers came back from a deficit of 24-8 with 18 minutes to play to win the match 26-24 in the final three minutes.

This was the biggest comeback ever seen in the history of Rugby League Grand Finals.

The result left all spectators, commentators and journalists wondering what exactly they had just witnessed.

With eighteen minutes to play, nobody in the ground believed that in a game of this intensity, the tide could turn against a team that had taken the half-time score from 6-8 to 24-8.

At 24-8, the whole crowd believed that the Broncos would just go on with the slaughter of the Panthers and show no mercy.

Everybody in the ground believed that at that point, with eighteen minutes to go, it was “game over” for the Panthers.

Especially because at eighteen minutes to go, three key Panthers players were off the field… their star playmaker Jarome Luai had succumbed to severe pain of playing with a previously dislocated shoulder that required immediate surgery [which he had chosen to delay] ….and two star forwards were off the field for concussion assessments.

Things did not look good for the Panthers…

The trouble was, nobody told the Panthers players that the game over script had been written for them…

Here’s what happened…

Jarome Luai’s replacement, Jack Cogger, came on to the field and immediately stepped up and stepped into the role that he had been training for.

Cogger was by no means a second string understudy. His role was to seamlessly fill in for any one of three players, should the need arise.

And he did.

In fact, his presence allowed the Panthers’ key playmaker Nathan Cleary, to reassess the situation calmy, and then step up and “take the game by the throat”, and lead his team to an historic victory.

And he did.

Because the Panthers had prepared for all scenarios including this one.

And so Cogger simply flicked the switch, and it was GAME ON for the Panthers…

And the rest was history.

In contrast…

The Broncos halfback Adam Reynolds suffered a significant leg injury during the first half, and chose to play on, despite being seriously injured.

And I think that the Broncos had no Plan B for a Reynolds injury happening.

And although Reynolds said after the game that the injury did not hinder him, when it happened, everybody there at the ground, along with those viewing on TV thought that the injury was certainly presenting a threat to him playing on….

The lesson here is simple:

When you can’t perform your role at 100%, it’s time to move aside and let someone else who can perform your role.

Because your back-ups, your understudies, they know the roles they need to play.

Everybody on the team must know that they have a specific job to do.. and must be able to step up as required.

In your dental practice…

In your dental practice, do all team members have the ability and the skill to seamlessly move into any other team members’ roles, if needed?

Can this be done, without our clients, customers and patients being concerned with the fact that a member of the A-Team is absent?

Because that’s what makes a great business…. The fact of knowing that anyone on your team can play a “pinch-hitter” role without missing a beat.

Nobody likes going to the theatre and hearing the announcement that “the lead actor role tonight will be played by the understudy”

It’s an announcement that disappoints the audience, because it smacks of receiving second best.

And that’s wrong.

Because second best needs to be as good as best.


And that’s what wins matches.

And that’s what wins in business.


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