Robert Whittaker was halfway up a sandhill on Christmas Day when he did the unthinkable.
Which made no sense.
Or not for Whittaker.
That unbreakable UFC fighter who, for five years, has devoted his Sundays to climbing those famed Wanda dunes in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.
When an NRL team tackles Wanda, a dozen hills have been enough to see players collapse, even hospitalised.
Yet Whittaker, he runs 37.
Has never once quit on a dune, either.
Or not until last December.
“I just stopped,” he says. “Then stood there, asking ‘what the f... am I doing?’.
“It was Christmas Day.
“My family was somewhere else.
“That moment, it’s when everything crashed.”
Speaking now after a morning training session in his sprawling, home gym, Whittaker is walking The Saturday Telegraph through the shock breakdown — or “burn out” as he calls it — which occurred four months ago to the day.
A situation which saw this Sydney striker not only quit on that dune, or then withdraw from an upcoming UFC 248 bout against American Jared Cannonier, but disappear for days, then weeks, as rumours emerged about donating bone marrow for his daughter.
Which for the record, Whittaker says are completely false.