Turning Tricks in Tabloid Land: The Castration of a Prostitute and the NRL Preview (Part 2)

Filed in Other by on December 5, 2010

It is hot under the collar here. The same kind of heat one would imagine penetrating a dandy Southern courthouse during, say, the Scopes Trial or the trial of Tom Robinson. A full, dry heat caused by a mixture of pressure, passions and geography. The kind of heat Atticus Finch would nobly stride through as the hot sun hit his suited frame as hard as the eyes of those watching his work did.

Ye Gods, Lote Tuqiri can be most grateful that my words are limited this week because the beating he is about to receive will be one he would be best advised to curl in the fetal position for and wish like hell that the damage is minimal and the fury is quick…

Let me lay out the map and show you where we are going in the next five-to-seven paragraphs so that those who are easily offended can go and adjust their skirt and put on their make-up. Lote Tuqiri has the values of a leggy strumpet wandering the streets with a dollar sign on her ass and hollowness in her eye…

If that statement makes you wince, get yourself a cup of tea and make a solemn promise to yourself and God and me that you won’t read any Houellebecq or Henry Miller.

But I digress…

The point is simple and the tide of public sentiment flows behind and in front and around me. Lote Tuqiri did nothing but whore himself out to the organisation with the biggest bankroll. He dolled himself up, got all pretty and paraded around like a female peacock on the pull. There was a fair bit of interest, so he dragged it out as long as he could for reasons of finance and self-esteem. He gets his kicks from seven digit cheques and feeling wanted. It is doubtful he gets as much enjoyment from either code of football.

He is disillusioned with rugby yet stays because of the cash. That’s how he played it and that is what he got and the last time I checked, they call all that prostitution.

For months, Tuqiri used rugby to boost his league price and league to boost his rugby price. He used club against club, baldly lying to their faces. And he dragged it through the newspapers rather than having the decency to sort his matters out in private. Which, by the by, is the primary reason there is so much ill will toward Tuqiri right now.

As with Ricky Stuart and Cronulla, he could not even be bothered to show up for meetings with potential future employers in league.

Stupid numbers were being bandied about for a decent player but even the insanity of million dollar plus offers were rejected, like a street walker of any persuasion will nearly always reject any first offer, be it for drugs or sex or home made handicrafts. He is an outside back! Outside backs, even the best of them and Tuqiri is far from that, only have so much value and be damned sure that the market price isn’t nearly as high as what was being thrown at Tuqiri. But he strutted on by; confident he could find a buyer for his services.

And it is probably safe to assume that if the price was right, it didn’t have to be football provided. If the price was right, Tuqiri would get into some pretty kinky shit because the mindset of the prostitute is that everything has a price. Domination, ornithology, playing rugby- it is all pretty damned kinky, in its own perverted way. It may not be Kings Cross or Fremont Street or St Kilda but the back pages of the Daily Telegraph and the sports reports of the nightly news seemed to satisfy the Tuqiri camp.

The word on the street is that rugby types and Tuqiri lovers will cry victory over the deal and dismiss any dissidents as bitter lower-class league lovers lashing out after defeat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any league fan with three brain cells and an ability to read Big League never wanted Tuqiri back. Not for the money he needed. He would have crippled whatever club paid the ridiculous overs on him and it would have embarrassed the NRL by suggesting a rugby player was more valuable than much of the abundant talent currently playing the game. Rugby is fighting with expired tactics. Minds are one on the moral, not the physical. That is the benefit of playing from the high ground. Rugby can claim Tuqiri as a victory but any analysis by an accountant or a coach or a fan of the game would probably run along the same line; the money could have been better spent.

And so much for all that. In the week where it all kicks off, it is time to focus on more pertinent rugby league matters. And there is little more pertinent matter than the top eight and who will be there.

8th: North Queensland Cowboys

Best: Johnathan Thurston, Luke O’Donnell, Jason Smith
Overrated: Shane Tronc, Carl Webb
On the Up: Matthew Scott
Position Spread: 7th-12th

Townsville is a great rugby league town and the Cowboys are an organisation who deserve success. The Cowboys have worked hard at establishing a winning culture and recruited more intelligently than most clubs. But, unfortunately for the Cowboys, this will not be their year. They have enough talented players to make the eight but truth be told, they are only in here by default as the ten teams I had missing the eight doesn’t quite work. The problem with the Cowboys is their talent disparity. They have the core of a premiership side in Thurston, O’Donnell, Matt Bowen, Jason Smith and Ty Williams, as well as one of the smartest coaches in the game in Graham Murray. The problem is that the rest of the side looks a hell of a lot like a side capable of winning a wooden spoon or two. They will win a few but any injuries to their key players and they will get whipped. Finals hopes but that is as far as their dream will extend this season.

7th: Parramatta Eels

Best: Nathan Hindmarsh, Fuifui Moimoi, Jarryd Hayne
Overrated: Mark Riddell, Luke Burt
On the Up: Ben Smith
Position Spread: 5th-10th

For the first time in over a decade, the Eels have a decent coach and that should see them improve this year. They have one of the top three players in the competition in Nathan Hindmarsh and a big, tough forward pack with a great work ethic. They also have plenty of try scoring ability out wide with an electric three-quarter line that oozes class. But the problem for Parramatta is their halves. It is enough to make a Parramatta fan weep. Which, of course, affords me great pleasure. Brett Finch is completely useless and Tim Smith had an abortion of a season last year. And this is what will be the Eels undoing. No team wins a premiership with bad halves and bad halves is exactly what Parramatta have.

6th: Sydney Roosters

Best: Craig Fitzgibbon, Anthony Minichello, Ashley Harrison
Overrated: Braith Anasta, Craig Wing
On the Up: Nate Myles
Position Spread: 6th-12th

With the greatest coach to ever hold a clipboard at the helm, the Roosters will improve markedly this season. Chris Anderson brings success, it is that simple. The Roosters look a lot tougher this season and that is in no small part thanks to Chris Anderson, who has bought in some experienced hard men in Nate Myles, Danny Nutley and Chris Beattie. They add perfectly to existing heavy hitters like Craig Fitzgibbon and Anthony Tupou. Those big boppers also compliment the hard workers like Ashley Harrison and Chris Flannery, when they becomes available. The weakness for the Roosters is their backline. They have a star in Minichello and some talent with the likes of Soliola and Amos Roberts but their young, unproven halves may be a problem. Backline depth is also of some concern. The Roosters are the good bet for the eight this season but they are short a quality half from premiership contention.

5th: Newcastle Knights

Best: Andrew Johns, Danny Buderus, Steve Simpson
Overrated: Josh Perry, Adam MacDougall
On the Up: Jarrod Mullen
Position Spread: 4th-6th 

The Newcastle Knights, along with Manly, are the two teams who can win the premiership but who currently look a level below the top three outfits. The Knights will win plenty of games with their monster forward pack that sits behind only Canterbury, Brisbane and Parramatta in terms of ferocity and awe. They have the right mix of toilers and heavy hitters to make a significant mark on the premiership. They also have a player by the name of Andrew Johns, a man who has carried this team for a decade and will do it once more. If he stays on the paddock, the Knights can beat anyone. If he doesn’t, the Knights are done. He may be another year older but he is still one of the best in the game. The problem for Newcastle is their over-reliance on Joey. They need to somehow be weaned from the Johns teat. Another concern is their strike power with both Matt Gidley and Anthony Quinn leaving. The Knights should have another good year and they look headed for more finals footy but again, their season swings on the health of their champion.

4th: Manly Sea Eagles

Best: Matt Orford, Steven Menzies, Brett Stewart
Overrated: Jamie Lyon, Brent Kite
On the Up: Chris Hicks
Position Spread: 4th-6th

The Eagles will field another class outfit with top notch players from fullback to front row. But there is also little doubt that Manly are a weaker outfit in 2007 than they were in 2006 because this year, there is no Ben Kennedy. And that does not bode well for the Eagles premiership campaign. They will no doubt be hovering at the top of the table again but they do appear just short of Melbourne, Brisbane and Canterbury. The main weapon of Manly is their ability to put on points with try scoring machines Brett Stewart, Chris Hicks, Steven Bell and Jamie Lyon all in the maroon and white and Matt Orford making it all happen. Combined with a solid forward pack and the new found toughness instilled by BK, Manly are a formidable team. Still, a question mark remains. Top four hopes. Perhaps just short of a Grand Final.

3rd: Brisbane Broncos

Best: Darren Lockyer, Justin Hodges, Petero Civoniceva
Overrated: Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker
On the Up: David Stagg
Position Spread: 1st-3rd

The defending Premiers will be around the mark again and back-to-back Grand Finals is a very real possibility. They continue to field a strong outfit, losing only Shane Webcke from the core of their Premiership winning squad. They have a slew of talented outside backs, the best number six in the game, a physical forward pack and a versatile, creative hooker. They also have a great blend of youthful exuberance and experience, something that was missing between their last two Premierships. Combined with one of the finest rugby league coaches ever, everything seems in place for another Broncos title run. How they deal with Origin will again be important, as will Bennett’s use of his various ball playing options. But the Broncos are and always have been winners. Expect nothing less in 2007. They are top four certainties.

2nd: Melbourne Storm
Best: Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, Dallas Johnson
Overrated: Brett White, Antonio Kaufusi
On the Up: Israel Folou
Position Spread: 1st-3rd

There was little doubt that the Storm were the best team in the competition last season. They ran away with the minor premiership and dominated the NRL until their final eighty minutes of the season, where they threw it all away in a display of ill discipline and relative ineptitude. How they react to that will determine how they progress in 2007. They again field a magnificent team with one of the most explosive backlines ever compiled in first grade rugby league. Inglis, Slater, King, Geyer. Truly amazing. And with Cooper Cronk having slipped seamlessly into the number seven jersey last season, getting the ball wide won’t be a concern. The forward pack is also of a high quality with unheralded duo Ryan Hoffman and Dallas Johnson working hard from the back row and the likes of Michael Crocker setting a sturdy platform. The front row is the only worry at Melbourne. Expect the Storm to react well in the face of bitter defeat and make another heavy run at the flag.

1st: Canterbury Bulldogs

Best: Sonny Bill Williams, Willie Mason, Hazem El Masri
Overrated: Matt Utai, Corey Hughes
On the Up: Daniel Holdsworth
Position Spread: 1st-3rd

The Bulldogs are expected to run rampant for another season, trouncing all comers in a season of unparalleled brilliance. The Dogs have suffered some big losses- Roy Asotasi, Nate Myles and most importantly, the legendary Tony Grimaldi- but they again field the most brutal, hellish, fearsome pack in the entire world of rugby league. It is a pack filled with internationals who thrive on tough football, the intensity of battle and the drive of disrespect. Combined with a class fullback, some exciting outside backs and a solid halves combination, the Dogs are sizzling. It is tough to see this Dogs outfit losing a match this season. This is the one for Big T, I’m sure they are all saying. The one to honour a champion. Dogs, undefeated is all anyone needs to know.

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