There were two stories that dominated the NRL landscape this week – one was the fact that Cameron Smith didn’t cure paraplegia following Alex Johnson’s incident last year, and the other was the constant “will he/won’t he” debate around whether Robbie Farah would overcome his injuries to play in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider.
Cam Smith copped a dead-set flogging from the Channel 9 60-Minute “journalists” to the point that he has put a media ban on them. Cameron Smith, captain of the national team plus the Melbourne Storm plus the newly-crowned champions of the world, the Queensland Maroons Origin side, will not speak to the “major” provider of rugby league in Australia. I bet there are about a thousand other players right now wishing they’d done the same thing a whole lot earlier.
After what felt like thirty seven years of hype, we can now officially put Robbie Farah into the “who fucking cares if he plays or not” category. Let’s be honest, the guy is no Johnathan Thurston or Andrew Johns, who would dominate an opposition if you hacked off one of their legs with a dull and rusty soup spoon, this is Robbie Farah. “Oh noes, Robbie isn’t playing!” the NSW selectors fretted. “Before we officially forfeit this game, get… I don’t know… anyone else to play that position. I think we’ll manage.” Turns out that QLD won by the small margin of 46 points, a deficit I’m just not sure that Rob Farah, with his busted shoulder and fractured hand, would not have been able to close.
So congrats to Queensland, who showed that the best offence is a great defence, and successfully (hopefully) ended the representative careers of Pearce, Hodkinson and Hopoate for NSW, and proved that DCE really is shit. So despite being a NSW supporter, I think they’ve done the game a huge favour.
Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights
A cold, rainy Friday night at GIO stadium is just what the doctor ordered. To be honest, giving Canberra their first/only Friday night game just as an ice age is approaching is a bit rude. With all fingers crossed inside my mittens, Canberra will walk over the top of Newcastle in this one, who, despite starting the season well, now find themselves on the bottom of the ladder. And there’s no better way to lift your morale and get back into footy than with a trip to the nation’s capital just as the sleet starts coming down. Raiders by a dozen.
Penrith Panthers vs Sydney Roosters
I reckon the Panthers could almost sneak this one in… but I also reckoned that smartphones wouldn’t catch on. Although I did have a dream the other night that Australia would be 3/87 in the cricket – but it turned out that it was England who were 3/87. Spooky, eh? Roosters by 10 or so. Or Panthers by 10 or so. It’s all the same.
Canterbury Bulldogs vs Brisbane Broncos
A still-drunk Brisbane side take on a still-shit Bulldogs team in what is destined to be a cracker of a match. I’ll watch this one just to see Hodges have a vom after the first 10 minutes. After that I probably won’t be too interested, to be honest. Broncos by 8.
New Zealand Warriors vs Melbourne Storm
The Storm always struggle against the Warriors, from memory. Whether it’s the players, the strategies, the defence, there’s just something about the Warriors that troubles the Storm. Although I could be thinking of a different team in a different sport, or even a team that doesn’t actually exist. It might be a video game or something. Warriors by 13.
Cronulla Sharks vs St George Illawarra Dragons
I don’t care who wins this game, but I hope the Sharkies do, because I’ve tipped them. I figure that the Dragons will have a million players out with injuries, suspensions and court appearances, so I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to the Cronullas. Not by much though.
Gold Coast Titans vs Manly Sea Eagles
Congrats to Manly for finally sneaking their way off the bottom of the ladder, and are now sitting pretty in third last position. YAY! They will continue their “winning” ways by putting it to the Titans, who will hopefully give Chery-Evans a shellacking for not following through with his contract deal… but then will probably be thankful that he didn’t sign with them because he’s a bit shit.