Cord­ner tack­les ul­ti­mate lead­er­ship quest

NT News - - SPORT - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

BOYD Cord­ner ful­fils his des­tiny to­day.

It was a path that dated back to the un­der-12s when he cap­tained his first side. He has stayed on course hav­ing long been ear­marked as a fu­ture Kan­ga­roos cap­tain.

“I’ve never sat down and said ‘I’m go­ing to be a leader’,” Cord­ner said. “It’s some­thing you’re born with and in your char­ac­ter.

“From a young age I had those skills. I have made a con- scious ef­fort. You have the lead­er­ship and ev­ery­one can see it. They tout you as the next cap­tain but if you’re at a young age and you have good lead­er­ship qual­i­ties but you don’t de­velop and you have the same lead­er­ship skills when I was 21 – I’m now 26 – peo­ple aren’t go­ing to lis­ten to you any more be­cause you’re still do­ing and say­ing the same stuff.

“You have to grow as a leader. It comes with ex­pe­ri­ence and life lessons.”

Cord­ner was given the harsh re­al­ity of lead­er­ship dur­ing last year’s State of Ori­gin se­ries. It was his first at skip­per and the Blues’ ca­pit­u­la­tion in game three fol­lowed by the fall­out which led to the ax­ing of coach Lau­rie Da­ley left Cord­ner scarred for the first time in his ca­reer.

“The fall­out from the 2017 Ori­gin se­ries re­ally rocked me,” Cord­ner said. “It was the first time it all got to me. I was so wrapped up and I wanted to win so bad.

“Once that set­tled it mo­ti­vated me more to be bet­ter. That’s what pres­sure does to me. It mo­ti­vates me. I like it. I like it in my life. I want to be con­stantly tested and mo­ti­vated. That’s what I do.

“(This se­ries) I trusted my prepa­ra­tion and my team’s prepa­ra­tion. I was so fo­cused on game two on how good it would be to win. It was win or noth­ing.”

Cord­ner’s club coach Trent Robin­son re­called when Cord­ner shied away from re­plac­ing An­thony Minichiello as Roost­ers skip­per just three years ago.

“Boyd was 22,” Robin­son said. “I re­mem­ber hav­ing an hon­est con­ver­sa­tion and he was say­ing ‘I know I’m a fu­ture cap­tain but I’m not ready yet. I need to de­velop my­self more’.

“That showed ma­tu­rity at a young age and he was right.

“He never asks any­thing from the play­ers that he won’t do. He doesn’t ask, he de­mands that all of them lift.

“Some­times it feels like the play­ers don’t have a choice when he asks that. It’s a spe­cial mo­ment to see from a cap­tain.”

Pic­ture: GETTY IMAGES

Ki­wis cap­tain Dallin Watene Zelez­niak and Kan­ga­roos skip­per Boyd Cord­ner at Mt Smart Sta­dium yes­ter­day ahead of their big Test show­down

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