The Kick That Dreams Are Made Of

It’s the kick you dream about from the moment you first touch a footy. 

Elimination Final. Down by two. Three minutes remaining. Sideline conversion attempt. 

Throw in the fact the 20-year-old was on the non-preferred side for a left-footer, and that’s exactly what Wyong Roos five-eighth Sean O’Sullivan was faced with at Panthers Stadium.

After Western Suburbs kicked a penalty goal to take a six-point lead with five minutes to go, a pin-point short kick-off by Mitch Cornish was re-gathered by Matt Ikuvalu, and Paul Momirovski scored in the left corner a few tackles later. 

While 16 Roos players and the entire coaching staff went up in celebration O’Sullivan’s focus immediately turned to the pressure-cooker situation. He had to nail a tough conversion from the sideline to keep the game alive, and if he missed, the Wyong Roos would never be seen in the Intrust Super Premiership ever again. 

Sure enough, O'Sullivan kicked the conversion, and the Roos went on to secure a dramatic extra time victory. 

“Honestly, when I realised ‘Pauly’ scored I was just like ‘oh wow, I have to kick this to tie it up’,” O’Sullivan tells NSWRL.com.au. 

“I just backed myself, backed all of my practise. 

“I was just so stoked that we got to win in extra time.”

He also had the chance to kill the game before the 80-minute siren with a field goal attempt in the dying seconds. 

They say Rugby League is a game of inches, and O’Sullivan felt the full brunt of that when his potential match-winner clattered into the left upright.

“I think I celebrated a bit too early on that one,” O’Sullivan says with a smirk.

Sean O'Sullivan with a field goal attempt in the dying seconds that hit the post.
Sean O'Sullivan with a field goal attempt in the dying seconds that hit the post.

“I honestly thought it was in, then it just shifted to the left.” 

If the late comeback in regular time wasn’t enough, the Roos found themselves down by two at half-time of extra time. 

A frantic play in the dying minutes with both team’s seasons on the line saw the Roos roll the dice on the last play to score the match-winning try. Matt Ikuvalu finished the right-to-left-to-right shift to score, giving his side an unassailable lead with only seconds to play following the put down. 

With that, the Roos advance to Week Two of the finals to keep the dream alive.

“We always had belief, just because we believe that we have a team that can go all the way and we’ll always back ourselves,” O’Sullivan says. 

“We said [at half-time of extra time] if we get a good ‘D-set’ [defensive set] here, they kick it back, we’ll always back ourselves because we’ve got a good power game, we backed our middles to get a good play the ball.

“We just play eyes up footy, we always backed that we were going to score. 

“There was a lot of belief at half-time, what a game.” 

The rollercoaster match is a metaphor for the up-and-down season O’Sullivan has had.

2018 has been one hell of a ride for O’Sullivan; he’s ticked plenty of boxes this year – including making an NRL debut. 

“It’s been such an awesome year,” O’Sullivan says.

“I started off in '20s' (Jersey Flegg Cup), played a couple of games in ISP then I played in the Residents team. 

“A couple of weeks later I got picked in the NSW Under-20s team and before I was about to go into camp ‘Robbo’ [Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson] said that he might need me for first grade this week. 

Sean O'Sullivan on NRL debut with the Sydney Roosters.
Sean O'Sullivan on NRL debut with the Sydney Roosters.

“It’s been such a surreal experience this whole year and I’m grateful to the Roosters and to ‘Robbo’ for letting me have an opportunity in Grade.”