As expected, the debut of Willie Mason in tri-colours was a huge affair. The big man is rarely able to stay out of the headlines, even under the watchful guard of Roosters management – he still managed to drop his pants recently, relieve himself and manage to get caught by a snooping member of the public.
Off-field problems aside, Mason took to his task at the Roosters will focused enthusiasm. Playing around 60 minutes for the Roosters, Willie was highly involved – solid runs, heaps of team talk and encouragement plus a knockout hit on Todd Payten.
The team talk and encouragement is the thing that probably took most Rugby League insiders by surprise. We all know Willie is a big talker and was always gee’ing his team mates up at the Bulldogs – but to slot into a new team so comfortably and possess enough confidence to consistently talk, encourage and direct the team around was very interesting. It confirms two things, Willie Mason must be a happy man at his new Bondi club and his comments about wanting to captain the Roosters one day man be very serious.
Would Willie make a good captain?
Our thoughts are surprisingly yes. Once again, off-field problems aside – Willie Mason is a strong enough player to lead by example on the field, but it’s his passionate encouragement and sledging that make him a prime candidate as a team leader. His vocal interaction on the NRL field is probably more similar to the heady days of the 80’s where chatter was constant and evident every week. Guys like Wally Lewis were full of passion, emotion and led with their skills and mouth on the field. Willie fits this mould perfectly.
At the age of 27, Willie should probably mature more off the field in the next 2-3 years and may put himself in a better position to lead a club should injury and disaster stay away.
When you look at a guy like Willie Mason, his obvious gigantic frame and occasional offload make him a damaging player in any situation. There has been the rare time that Willie has been a tad lazy on the field and I can imagine there was plenty of training sessions, where the big man was more worried about practical jokes or telling stories about his nightclub tours of the weekendÂ – rather than focusing on football. Thats the scary thing – Willie has probably only been applying himself 90% of the time or less, yet is still an Australian Representative with the world at his feet.
Chances are good he still has a lot left in the tank and if the Roosters can man manage Mason into the future, mould him and nurture him even more – this guy could get better and as he does, he might just take the Roosters to the lofty heights that boss man Nick Politis and Brad Fittler expect.
The only thing standing in Willie Mason’s way is himself and maybe a brutal affair with the Bulldogs that could leave him battered and injured, but I am sure Willie himself is looking for some revenge there too – all making for sensational theatre.