In 2003, Nathan Hindmarsh sunk to the lowest moment of his sporting career.
No, it wasn’t the grand final defeats in 2001 and 2009 to the Newcastle Knights and Melbourne Storm respectively.
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Instead, it took place during the annual Robertson spud race, where contestants must carry a 50kg sack of spuds over their shoulder and race around a 400m track.
Hindmarsh, who was in his prime for the Parramatta Eels, led the chasing pack by “50m”.
But his dreams of finishing with the winner’s ribbon came crashing down when he fell with 100m to go and watched his competitors breeze past him as he ultimately finished last.
WATCH HINDY’S SPUD RACE IN THE PLAYER ABOVE!
Two decades later, Hindmarsh was ready to vanquish the ghosts of his past and give it another crack.
With the assistance of legendary spud race trainer Bryan Fletcher, Hindmarsh underwent what ‘Fletch’ described as a “vigorous, uncompromising training regime.”
Sprints on Bondi Beach, kettlebell swings and running with a sack of potatoes on the Bondi promenade was all part of Fletcher’s plan to get Hindmarsh fit and firing for the biggest test of his athletic career.
The day finally arrived alongside a huge crowd in Robertson for the event and Fletcher was feeling extremely confident.
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Having put Hindmarsh onto a diet of the three C’s — “carrots, quinoa and kale” — Fletcher boldly declared he would “put everyone’s houses” on the Eels legend finishing top of the podium.
“Not mine, but I’d put a lot of people’s houses on that,” Fletcher said.
But Fletcher then met up with a random figure to put on a cheeky bet in favour of one of Hindmarsh’s competitors, only known as “No. 2.”
“I’m not going to back that fat f***,” Fletcher told the mystery man.
Hindmarsh may have been introduced before the race as “the fat bastard” but he looked as light as a feather once the race began.
However, the mental toll of 2003 gripped Hindmarsh again as he fell over with around 100m to go, sparking concerned looks from all.
Coach Fletcher sprinted over to pick the fallen great up off the dirt and helped Hindmarsh get the spud sack back on his shoulders in a comeback of Rocky-esque proportions.
Hindmarsh eventually crossed the line and was sadly nowhere near the podium.
After finishing the race, he then hurled up his breakfast as Fletcher did his best to dodge the puke.
Although Hindmarsh didn’t bring home the bacon himself, it turns out Fletcher’s bet paid off as No. 2 blitzed the competition to take the honours.
It didn’t take long for Hindmarsh to find out about the betting betrayal, but his mood was quickly brightened.
“Did you back against me,” Hindmarsh asked.
“Is that what you’re saying? You backed against me?”
Fletcher replied: “I did.”
But Hindmarsh’s mood quickly changed once Fletcher revealed they supposedly won “40 grand” as the two hugged it out after a successful day at the Robertson spud race.