The bigger the stage, the better David Klemmer performs.
After a disappointing year from a club-wide perspective at the Bulldogs, Klemmer is continually proving to rise to the occasion at representative level, being among Australia’s best players against England off the back of winning the Brad Fittler Medal for the NSW VB Blues.
Judged as the best player for a team in Rugby League’s most brutal arena in State of Origin shows that there is a big heart and endless fight within Klemmer’s massive frame, and he has no intentions of slowing down every time he dons the green and gold jersey for the remainder of this World Cup.
“I was really eager to get out tonight and do my best for my country and my teammates,” Klemmer said after the game.
“I was pretty disappointed this year with the ‘Dogs [because we] missed semi-final football; I love watching footy but it’s hard not playing it.
“It’s good here, it’s a good competitive nature in the team and it was good to get out there and represent my country again in front of my family and teammates.”
In the 54 minutes Klemmer spent on the field, he amassed a massive 190 metres off 15 runs and completed 21 tackles.
Every time he touched the ball – particularly in his opening stint – he seemed a genuine chance of breaking through, and even did so on one occasion when he made a line-break and nearly went all the way.
His ability to move up a gear on the representative scene inspired his teammates in the forward pack to lift with him, something that impressed coach Mal Meninga.
“[Klemmer] was very good; I thought our middle players were very good tonight,” Meninga said.
“Jordan McLean, Josh McGuire and [Tyson] Frizell off the bench as well, I thought our bench made a difference when they came on.
“I thought all of our forwards were exceptionally good tonight and they put us under a lot of pressure through the middle, I thought we handled it really well.”
The injury of Matt Scott and the withdrawal of Andrew Fifita suddenly put a greater emphasis on the importance of Klemmer’s job, and he credits his coach for simplifying his role in order for him to thrive.
“Those blokes leave massive holes so Mal keeps it real simple for me and playing in this team,” Klemmer said.
“They give me a good role to play I just got to turn up, do my job and don’t let any of my teammates down.”
While Cameron Smith and the Australians weren’t surprised, the performance of England impressed a lot of viewers, in particular their defensive effort in the first half.
It wasn’t the polished Kangaroos performance that perhaps some were expecting, instead a tough, no-nonsense victory where a late penalty goal and try perhaps ballooned the score-line beyond how brutal the contest was and how brave England were.
Klemmer highlights what is needed to improve out of that game in order to be at their best in the later stages of the tournament.
“England played really well, they started off on fire, the lungs were hurting trying to get some breath out there,” Klemmer said.
“They threw a lot at us at the start, they came out firing, we weren’t completing our sets early on, we had a couple of dropped balls and some 7 tackle sets so we were hanging in there.
“We crawled our way back mid-way through that half and scored a try, we were just trying to find our feet and when we did we controlled the game better, but there’s patches we can improve on.”