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I?m sitting outside a cosy little caf? with a nice view of Parramatta River, waiting patiently for Eels? five-eighth John Morris to arrive. The wind comes to a sudden halt and I notice a glare in the distance ? white shoes, white teeth. This has to be him. I try to compose myself, albeit quite poorly, before he makes his way over to our arranged meeting place. ?Hi, I?m John Morris. Who the f*ck are you??
Shaking John?s hand, I realise his rugged grip sets a strong contrast from the soft contours of his palms, essentially forming a good balance between yin and yang. His appearance is nothing short of spectacular, biceps bulging out underneath a mint green slim fit t-shirt, his masculine jaw line suggesting a Bonds Chesty might be more appropriate.
John turns his head from side to side to check for paparazzi, slowly removing his aviators, the latest in urban chic. He shuffles his seat around the table and sits down. ?I don?t like sitting directly across from someone,? he explains. ?It cramps the chi.?
His attention to detail is second to none. Realising I?m intimidated by his presence, John suggests we get something to eat. I agree. ?Two Devonshire teas,? he calls out to the waitress, before I even have a chance to look at the menu.
John picks up the aviators to check out his reflection in the lenses. Unsurprisingly, there?s not a single hair out of place. I can?t help but ask John about his hair. He?s evasive, dodging my questions like a Preston Campbell tackle, before gradually relenting. ?If you need help, ask Tony Robbins. I don?t do that.?
I understand. Ian G may be willing to offer insight, but John?s faux-mullet is easily more stylish than Ian?s more traditional mullet. It sets him apart from other men. I ask John about the recent loss to the Cowboys. The mood turns sour as John replies, ?That match makes we wish I could build a time-machine like John Titor. I?d love to go back and have another crack at it.?
Though bumbling out of the finals in forlorn fashion, 2005 easily ranks as John?s best season so far. It was one where he overcame adversity, with many ? including Jeremy John Mohekey, a Porirua local ? critical of his move to five-eighth. John?s formidable partnership with boom rookie Tim Smith proved to be the most vital element of Parramatta?s minor premiership success.
?My biggest annoyance is easily people suggesting I?m not a natural five-eighth,? laments John. ?Lockyer moved to five-eighth from another position and what about Thurston? He plays halfback more often. Benji the dog doesn?t even have a kicking game. I have no time for people like Jeremy.?
One person John does have time for is Scott Raymond Thomas. ?We played footy together back in my junior days up at Newcastle,? he remembers fondly. ?It?s a shame for an innocent man to go to prison. Having been misjudged myself, I can relate to what Scott?s going through.?
I turn the conversation towards his continuing low profile and the media attention lavished upon Tim Smith. ?I?m happy for Timmy. He?s a good kid and his head is planted wobbly on his shoulders. He comes up with some good hairstyles of his own.?
We continue talking about Parramatta?s season. John suggests his personal highlight was the banana kick to Ben Smith in the match against the Warriors. ?I was dancing like a badger after that,? he says. ?They said it was a fluke, but I could hit a mushroom from 20 metres away. My kicking game is more lethal than a snake.? Ooh, a snake?
Our Devonshire teas arrive and John wastes no time, cutting open a scone and spreading on a thick layer of strawberry jam. John notes, ?I actually played for the Scone Thoroughbreds when I was younger, you know? There?s some trivia for you.? I point out that JAM is his initials (his middle name is Andrew), to which John lets out a slight chuckle. Reaching for the cream at the same time, our hands briefly touch for a moment that seems to last an eternity. I blush and retract.
I snap the tension by asking John for some final words. ?It?s like Steve Prefontaine once said, to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the Gift.? Admiring John?s hair, I realise he hasn?t sacrificed the Gift at all. ?And stop looking at me like that FFS.?
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