Thank fuck State of Origin is over for another year, and everyone can get back to doing what they’re best at: drugs, sexual assault, public nudity, drink-driving and domestic violence. Luckily for the NRL, the Parramatta club have been digging deep and giving 110% to make up for the lack of off-field offences since Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan have been off the street and in Origin camp. This week, the Eels made the decision to drop Corey Norman indefinitely, following the release of his sex tape… a day before he was due to attend court on drugs charges… in the same week that it was announced that he accepted payments in “brown paper bags.” It’s probably safe to say that the announcement to drop him probably wasn’t completely unexpected.
Congratulations to the Queensland Origin team for racking up another 2-1 series victory in what will most likely go down in history as one of the dullest, most dire and downright fucking boring series ever played. When the main talking points about the game revolve around the referee, you know something’s gone wrong. Some people say that Queensland were penalised six more times as they left the stadium, twice as they got onto the bus and three times again this morning as they went to training. NSW still haven't been able to score, despite the glut of possession and no opposition.
This year's Origin felt like both teams had been told “you should have pride in playing at this level” rather than actually instilling that pride into the players. During the NSW preparations, Blues legends Brad Clyde and Glenn Lazarus popped in to give a pep speech about their experiences in Origin. By the end of the session, Andrew Fifita admitted that “half the boys had their phones out to find YouTube clips of them, because no one really knew who they were.” WHAT THE FUCK.
This series was not the showpiece of the sport that it bills itself as. For the players, it was just another game, another $30,000 appearance fee, another week of having to listen to James Maloney talk about the time he got caught masturbating, or put up with Corey Parker’s stories about World War II. It’s not even an honour to be picked for Origin anymore; when Dylan Walker gets selected, it makes me think that my call-up probably isn’t too far away.
This year was always going to be a billed as a “rebuilding” phase for NSW as they dropped some old blokes, brought in different old blokes, switched their young blokes around, and in the end somehow stumbled upon a team that won by four points in a game that didn’t actually mean anything in context, leading into wild celebrations about “the new generation of footballers”, “core spine groups” and “just wait til Jarryd Hayne comes back!” When you’re pegging your hopes on someone who ran away from the game to not play NFL before not playing rugby for Fiji and not having a rugby league team to come back to, maybe those lofty heights of success aren’t quite as big as you think, and you can probably reach it if you just stand on a phone book.
In all, there was probably about 15 minutes of actual good, exciting, skilful football played over the three matches, and that was always in the last minutes of each game. And for what is meant to be the epitome of awesomeness in league, that’s just not good enough. There’s too much emphasis on slowing down the play, not enough emphasis on shifting the defence around, too much kicking and hoping, not enough offloads, and far too much Robbie Farah.
And for fuck’s sake, JAMES FUCKING TEDESCO, I know you’re the great white hope of the Tigers. You’re Neo to Jason Taylor’s Morpheus. You are the Balky to Luke Brooks’ Cousin Larry. The Simon to the Tigers’ Garfunkel. The Han Solo to the NRL’s Chewbacca. You are Calibri while everyone else is Times New Roman. You are Gandalf to Origin’s Balrog.
St George vs Titans
It’s refreshing not to have a Friday night football game between top four sides. Not only does it allow league fans to appreciate other teams’ style of play and execution and put some new players in the spotlight, it also opens up the opportunity to go out on a Friday night and ignore shitfights like this game completely.
Manly vs Warriors
This game is part of a promotion of the NRL into Western Australia – apologies to our Perth friends over there who wander into the stadium by accident. Apologies too to the NZ Warriors; the NRL really couldn’t have found a team located any further away to take to the other side of the country, could they?
I don’t care much about this game, but there is this:
MANLY star Dylan Walker is out of rugby league for four weeks after injuring his hand as a result of punching the front door of his northern beaches residence over the weekend.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Walker got into an argument with his girlfriend which led to the drama. Earlier in the evening, Walker had been out drinking in Manly.
In terms of the winner of this game, I’m tipping Warriors, but really not confident. Manly looked pretty good in their last hit-out, probably because they don’t have to perform “Weekend at Bernie’s” (kids, ask your parents) to drag Brett Stewart’s corpse around the field for 80 minutes. But as the old saying goes: ‘fuck Manly.’
Souths vs Broncos
Man, I wish this game was being played in 2014. Unfortunately, it’s 2016 (holy shit), and both teams are horribly out of form at the moment. I think the Broncos are more likely to wake up from their mid-year snooze to take the biscuits in this one. To be perfectly Francis, it wouldn’t surprise me if Souths lose the rest of their games and get kicked out of the competition for being shit again.
Knights vs Storm
The Knights are threatening to upset a few teams who underestimate them in the back-half of the season, and are starting to put together a bit of decent footy. The Storm will have a few players hungover or injured from mid-week Origin, which could disrupt their trademark “fuck you” defensive patterns, but I think the overall shittiness of Newcastle will get Melbourne through this one.
Panthers vs Parramatta
It seems that the plethora of off-field distractions that have threatened to fuck Parramatta in the ear this year really haven’t phased them at all, and despite a 12-point deduction for being dirty cheating fucks, are still in finals contention (and above Newcastle and the Roosters lol). The latest sting of losing their playmaker and biggest attacking weapon within two weeks of each other is surelysurelysurely too fucking much for them to bear against a Panthers squad still just looking to make finals rather than make the finals and avoid jail-time.
Roosters vs Sharks
Remember when Blake Ferguson quit the Sharks a few years back, saying “I want to play in a team that wins the premiership” and then moved to Canberra (no premierships there, sorry tiger) and now he’s at the Roosters, who are only one win above Newcastle at the bottom of the ladder? Hopefully the Sharks remind him of that statement a few times during the game as he drops another ball with no pressure on him. Despite the Sharks having a gamut of players backing up from Wednesday night, I’m tipping them to win this one pretty comfortably.