No drugs were involved. Maxine was at the grocery store when she got the call no parent should ever take.
Then Maxine called Liam, who can still hear his mother’s voice on the other end of the line.
“It’s my clearest memory and rocks me to this day,” Liam told dem Herold. “I was sitting with my father and he was taking a nap. Mom rang the doorbell and she was hysterical. I went outside because I didn’t want him [Phillip] wake up. I thought she might have been in a car accident.
Liam has thought a lot about his brother in the past few weeks. He has been described as a “blonde” who acted spontaneously. He had a habit of stealing his friends’ thongs. Random couples are still often found where he’s buried. Liam always wondered if he knew what he knew about mental health now, maybe Jarred would still be alive.
Jarred, a talented junior soccer player in the Canberra Raiders before two ACL injuries shattered his own NRL dream, had a huge impact on Liam’s own career.
Jarred won’t see Liam play for the Panthers in Sunday’s grand final, but the family will be there. It would be understandable if, despite the NRL’s biosecurity protocols, Maxine couldn’t stop herself from giving Liam a huge push and kiss after full-time at the ANZ Stadium.
Maxine remembered doing pull-ups on a branch of a tree. And how they’d get into shape with empty barrels from one of the local pubs and leftover tractor tires.
Maxine, a school teacher in West Wyalong, said those long tours to Penrith and back had helped her and Liam cope with their loss.
“I don’t know if you know, but it’s easier to talk to guys when you’re next to each other than in front of each other. I did that with Liam when we were driving, ”said Maxine.
“Our conversations were beneficial in a way. We talked a lot about Jarred. ”
Maxine said this year had been the biggest challenge since Jarred’s death because the COVD-19 pandemic and NRL’s biosecutiry protocols prevented her from spending time with her youngest child. The family bought a cardboard clipping from Maxine when the season started again, but Liam could never find it as he searched the empty venues after each game.
Fortunately, Maxine will be there with a decent entourage from the bush when the Panthers hunt for their first title since 2003.
Such is Liam’s form that he may have to wait a little longer to get home after receiving a call from NSW Origin.
The local preschool has put up a sign wishing Liam well. A school in West Wyalong filmed a video message for him on Thursday.
Liam, who came to the University of NSW to study advanced science, says he has problems with anxiety – he once skipped an exam because he couldn’t bring himself to leave the house – but he knows that victory over the storm will mean so much to him and the parishes of Temora and West Wyalong.
Panther’s team-mate Billy Kikau has terrorized rivals on the left side, and Martin brought little relief on the right side of the field.
He also respects playing with a man like James Tamou, whom he grew up with as an idol for NSW and Australia.
Martin is being pumped. If only Jarred would go.
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Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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