Television Screws Rugby League (Again): If I didn't know rugby league, I would be shocked. But knowing how this sport has been run for 103 seasons, I could only shake my head in knowing disappointment.
The AFL will open its season with a one-out local derby between new boys Greater Western Sydney and the Sydney Swans out at Western Sydney. This collides with round four of the NRL season. If the NRL tried this stunt in, say, Melbourne, you could be assured the AFL would schedule a blockbuster against it to take away from crowd numbers and media airtime.
A Sad Day for Rugby League: Rugby league suffered one of its darkest days last Thursday when word came through that Immortal Arthur Beetson had died, aged only 66, of a heart attack. It was the premature end to a life devoted to rugby league.
Sadly, I never got to see Beetson play. I saw none of his 221 games with Balmain, Eastern Suburbs or Parramatta, none of 29 matches for Australia, only highlights of his landmark State of Origin performance. I never got to see his legendary combination of size, speed and skill that took him to the peak of rugby league. I never saw him pull off one his amazing offloads, bust through an unsuspecting defence or inspire his team to premiership or Origin glory.
The Great Implosion of the Manly Sea Eagles: To the surprise of nobody, the clusterfuck at Manly has gone extremely sour and the only policy being invoked by all involved is a scorched earth one and it has sent the club straight to the galleys only six weeks after winning the premiership.
In the history of the game, no premiership winning team has imploded so quickly. It is as historic as it is disturbing.
For the Manly faithful, the week could not be sadder. For those involved at the club, it has been a disaster of epic proportions.
Tim Moltzen Cannot Be Trusted: It takes a special kind of deviant to walk away from a signed contract and it seems Tigers turncoat Tim Moltzen is that kind of person after he reneged on his deal to move to the Dragons so he could stay under the tutelage of Tim Sheens.
It was a disgraceful chain of events with Moltzen and his manager almost wholly at fault for the embarrassing saga that this has been.
An Utter Disgrace: Those officials that signed their name to the ransom note attempting to extort the game last week should immediately resign. An email was sent by South Sydney’s Nick Pappas demanding an increase in club grants of nearly 50% to $6 million. Failure to do so will result in the clubs refusing to sign on for 2012, potentially giving rise to a Super League like situation.
Des The Dog: Welcome to Belmore, Des. No need for a haircut. Make yourself comfortable. Stay awhile. Here’s the keys. Lock the door when you’re done.
In one of the most astonishing coups in rugby league history, Canterbury pinched premiership winning coach Des Hasler only days after he took Manly to the Grand Final. He has been locked in for four years. It will long be remembered as Todd Greenberg’s finest moment. When Hasler was announced as Canterbury’s coach from 2013 onwards, it was a magnificent day for the club, which should return the club to the powerhouse status it has slipped from over the last half-decade.
Grand Final Breakdown: There was tremendous excitement heading into the Grand Final. It ended in tremendous disappointment for everyone bar the Manly faithful, who were singing “Eagle Rock” ad nauseum by full-time.
The crowd was a lot more Manly than most had forecast. It seems they will travel come Grand Final day. But the atmosphere was outstanding come kick-off with the slight Warriors majority stirred by the haka and “God Defend New Zealand”. There was hope in the air…
The football was hard early on. Real hard, the kind of arm wrestle you expect in a premiership decider, particularly with inexperienced playmakers leading both teams. The Warriors weren’t making an impact up the middle early like they did against the Storm but they had the first real scoring chance. But that went dreadfully pear-shaped when James Maloney dropped it cold off an attacking scrum. It was a pivotal moment of the match.
Farewell, Darren Lockyer: Rugby league sadly said farewell to one of its greatest ever players on Friday night. Tragically, he never even made it to the field.
Seeing Darren Lockyer sit there on Friday night, watching helplessly as his Broncos lost and his career came to a sad end, a tear filled my eye. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to end. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Darren Lockyer was supposed to go out on top. He was supposed to leave a premier. He was supposed to be a hero. He was supposed to be out there, the master of his own destiny.
What Went Wrong in the Kingdom of Wayne:Last week Wayne Bennett was taken to task in the media for visiting his new club Newcastle only days before the Dragons were to take on Brisbane in an elimination semi-final. It was a complete and utter beat-up with the Dragons playing as well as they have since the Origin period against Brisbane, very nearly pulling off an unlikely win. Bennett is one of the game’s greatest coaches and one of its great competitors, a total professional who would never do anything to hurt the prospects of his team. To suggest otherwise is not only disrespectful but stupid and clearly shows a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the game’s great coaching figures.