Eight games in the round. Broncos back on Friday night. Roosters to lose again. Farah dropped to reserve grade. Canberra break into the top four.
The NRL is back to where it should be. Aaaaah.
So… what the fuck has been going on lately? The whole fucking competition has been in complete fucking disarray, and getting worse, over the last couple of seasons.
My theory is that the whole fucking thing has been planned out as tightly as a Home and Away script. There are characters you are supposed to like, there are villains we love to hate, and there are the expendables who get brought in, hang around for a while and then get bumped off.
But the worst part of all of this is that like every TV series, there will be an end, and the writers are driving us towards it. Like the Ghostbusters franchise, the NRL is actually trying to destroy itself.
Like all good stories, the NRL has characters (which are called “teams”) that can be described as either the heroes, the villains, the sidekicks, the comic relief and so on. The NRL management has hard-wired the fans and the media to believe these categories, and it is very rare for a team to break out of the mould that it is recognised as.
The Broncos are one of the hero teams. We don’t really know why, but they are allowed to cheat the fuck out of the salary cap, get all the good times to play, are ignored when a sexual assault or drug-possession case gets brought up, and nobody questions a thing. They get the good run of weak teams during Origin. They are Queensland. They are gods. They are rarely “a team playing badly.” They might be “in a slump” or “off their game” or “they beat themselves” but there is no way that the comic relief - Eels or Penrith - could ever actually beat the Broncos or the Storm.
If David Klemmer from the Bulldogs (villains) scores a try against the might of the Horse, it’s not because Klemmer is a monster or was faster or stronger than the opposition, it’s because Brisbane were “tired” from Origin or “still reeling” from a dubious penalty call. But when Klemmer punches a hole in a change-room wall after the game, it’s because he’s a thug and a bad loser. That’s the script. And nobody wants to see the villain win, and in some cases they get forgotten about completely (2014 Grand Final, anyone?).
When the Warriors players are hunched over and breathing deep, they are “out of shape” and “need a complete overhaul of the culture of the entire club.” If the Cowboys or Storm are out of breath, they have “run themselves to a stand-still.” Similarly, when James Tedesco destroys a team, it’s because of the “Tedesco factor.” When the Tigers get destroyed, it’s “relying too much on James Tedesco.”
Traditionally, the Queensland teams get the rub of the green with the media; it’s the NRL’s way of killing off the core fanbase in NSW. Keep the Sydney supporters disheartened. Let their teams flounder. Give the broadcast rights to the worst options. Introduce new rules to confuse and divide referees to further the disenfranchised fans. Slow the game down, bring in useless technology, make the game difficult to watch. Get in shitty commentators. Shrink the sport as much as possible, try and get the fans to turn over to rugby, AFL or soccer.
Why would you ruin a perfectly good sport? Because this shit will take years to completely destroy, and until then, everybody still gets paid, and by the time some other idiot sticks his hand up to “save the NRL”, no one will care.
Except me, probably.
Cowboys vs Doggies
This game has the potential to be a whole lot closer than people think, as the Dogs hang desperately to their spot in the top 4. People have labelled the Dogs “inconsistent” this year, but their record of Win-Lose-Win-Lose-Win-Lose. That, motherfuckers, is the epitome of consistent. Although I forget which bit they’re up to… Probably lose. And with their full plethora of Origin players back, I reckon the Cowboys will be too tough to beat, especially at home.
Broncos vs Penrith
Yyyyyyyyyyeah probably Broncos. They picked back up last week after sucking for ages, and Penrith (god bless ‘em), just keep on hanging in there to either win or lose by 2. I’m tipping the Broncs, but only because Corey Oates makes me feel kinda funny. YES IN THAT WAY.
Woop Woop Raiders vs the Stupid Idiot Warriors
There are no sheep in Canberra, so the Warriors will just have to go fuck themselves this weekend. The unstoppable force that is the Raiders have also named four giant beasts on their bench, so we can anticipate some kind of smack-down affair in the capital (with a consolation try to Shaun Johnson). I look forward to the point where Edrick Lee breaks down with a torn hamstring again and Ricky puts Junior Paulo onto the wing.
Titans vs Eels
It was a relatively quiet week from the Eels, as they kind of kissed their season goodbye with last week’s loss and this week’s official suspension of Corey Norman for eight weeks. Eight weeks for possession? The guy should have shoulder charged someone into next week, and he only would have copped about three weeks. Parra will be bolstered by the return of Tim Mannah, at least for six minutes until he gets concussed again. For the Titans, Greg Bird has been suspended AGAIN (it can’t be long til he cops an eight week penalty for being a dickhead or taking drugs or something, surely?), which brings Agnatius Paasi into the starting line-up. I have no idea who that is, but that’s a great name. It sounds like he should be an 18th century philosopher or priest or something, probably played by Morgan Freeman.
Storms vs Rooster
We can only hope that the Storm repeat what they did to the Chooks earlier in the year with a billion-to-nil victory. It’s always good seeing the Roosters suck. While the Storm could be accused of slacking off lately, and the Roosters improving each week, it’s only a matter of time before an upset occurs. Based on these two teams, it should be somewhere around 2087.
Sharks vs Newie
Imagine coaching the Knights: “Come on boys, we let the game against Canberra go, and we were really competitive against the Storm backing up from Origin, and we might be able… to beat… a full-strength Cronulla. Ah fuck it. Pub?” With four players out for Newcastle, the Sharkies should be able to notch up about sixty bazillion tries. Gal might even get one. Hope not though.
Saints vs Tigers
The Dragons have the worst attack in the comp right now, bar none, so the Tiges’ problems in defence will be solved by that little issue. There is so little to like about this game that I doubt either team will bother coming.
Rabbits vs Manly
The Rabbitohs this year, I mean, come on, I literally can’t even, you know? Whatever poo is in their pie has really affected them… as poo in a pie probably would. Really stifled in attack, lacklustre in defence and it shames me to say that I am actually tipping Manly this week. I know, I feel like less of a human. In good news for the Bunnies though, Adam Reynolds makes his 12th return from injury for the season, although he has already booked a quick holiday to Bali for next weekend.