Meet the zen master at the Ipswich Jets
HE is not a zen buddhist as far as we know but Ipswich Jets fullback Wes Conlon is known as the "zen footballer” for good reason.
Conlon is the Ipswich Jets nominee in the XXXX People's Choice Award, where the Intrust Super Cup's most popular player with the fans is voted on.
Co-coach Shane Walker has shed light on what makes Conlon such a charismatic character.
"As Phil Brady, one of our managers says, 'Wes is the most zen footballer he has ever seen',” Walker said.
"As long is everything is cool and everything is all right with him, he is happy.
"He can throw an intercept pass for a try to the opposition and he will come back high-fiving everyone.
"It is just the way he looks at it.
"One day he was on fire and he came into the sheds at half-time and said 'this is unbelievable. I am not even thinking. It's just happening'.
"Other days he will come off after running amok and making breaks and he will say 'I'm not feelin' it today'.”
Walker tells a story about how his brother Ben's young lad was playing under nines one day when an old bloke approached him.
"The old bloke said 'I coached Wes in under nines',” Walker grinned.
"He said 'I used to get all the young fellas gathered around and I would go around all the boys in a circle giving them instructions. When I got to Wes I'd tell him he could do whatever he wants'.
"All the little kids would say 'why does he get to do whatever he wants?' The coach would say 'because he's Wes Conlon'.”
Conlon was humbled to be the Jets' nominee and said all his teammates deserved the same honour.
He described it in a zen way when he said "we are all literally one at the Jets”.
"It is like playing when you are a kid. It is so much fun to train and play what we want to play,” Conlon said.
"We are not structured robots. We are not told by the coaches not to do something. Ben and Shane encourage us to play to our own strengths.
"Playing for the Jets takes me back to playing under sixes with no shoes on. It is like playing down at the park with a hundred on a hundred, or at school at lunchtime when all the boys go across to the oval.
"You can't get that in a lot of clubs where there is so much pressure. You are playing for the love of it.
"I am literally the happiest I have ever been - win, lose or draw. I am on top of the field.”
Like any zen master, Conlon has vision.
"One old fella at Souths said he loved watching me play just because whatever I see in front of me, I play,'' he said.
"If I see something, I do it. If I believe in myself, that is the main thing. And with Ben and Shane they encourage us to back ourselves if we see things.”
Walker is just glad he has the zen maestro in his side.
"Everyone loves him and he plays the game in great spirit and competes hard,” Walker said.
"The great thing about having him in your team is that he can turn the run of play.”
There's no chance Conlon will play Intrust Super Cup with no shoes.
"Nah, the boots they have got these days are so comfy and so deadly,” he grinned.
"But no shoes . . . you can't beat it.”