Top of the NRL’s minor premiership pile
Ben Te'o in action during the NRL Round 26, Brisbane Broncos v Manly Sea Eagles. AAP Image/Action Photographics/Charles Knight
With only a handful of rounds left in the NRL, the battle for top spot is tighter than Jamal Idris’s jersey after a two hour session at Pancakes in Paradise, with a mere four points separating positions first and seventh.
Which team will pick up the J. J. Giltinan shield and win a cool $100,000 – enough for a few shouts at the pub with enough change to buy the Bradford Bulls?
Here is a run-down on those seven teams and why they will or won’t be the minor premiers.
Pros: have virtually made the minor premiership their own in recent seasons, even if most of those wins came on the back of Enron-trained accountants and more dodgy deals than a second-hand car yard run by Skeletor.
Cons: have hit something of a form slump, losing their last three games in a row. In fairness, though, one of those losses came against Dave “unbeatable game-plan” Furner’s Raiders, so we should really cut them some slack.
Pros: are the form team of the competition, with Dessie showing that he knows how to get the best out of the side (i.e.: get 12 blokes to pass it to Ben Barba and cancel any pre-season trips to Coffs Harbour).
Cons: remember the last time the Doggies were on a roll and were zeroing in on the minor premiership? How did that work out again? (Hint: try asking one of the Hughes brothers.)
Pros: in the form of Anthony Griffin, the Broncos have managed to find a coach so grumpy that he makes Wayne Bennett look like Wiggles fan who’s overdosed on chocolate crackles. Fact: the more a coach smiles, the more he looks like Stephen Kearney.
Cons: the team has an average age of 17 and a half, with most of the players thinking that “minor premiership” is a secret level in the latest Halo Xbox game.
Pros: pumped up by Michael Maguire’s coaching and too many camping trips with Russell Crowe, the Bunnies have overcome years of misery to sit near the pointy end of the ladder at the right end of the year. The fact that they have Adam Reynolds playing halfback instead of Willie Peters, Joe Williams or Chris Sandow probably doesn’t hurt either.
Cons: Souths are a club as used to success as James Tamou is to living in Australia. Because of this, their fans never look comfortable when things are going right, always secretly waiting for reality to catch up with them and leave their team looking about as fortunate as the rabbits from Watership Down.
Pros: while they may have never have taken home the main prize, the Sharkies have managed to collect a handful of minor premierships over the years. By choosing to field a team with less than 12 specialist back-rowers in it this season, they may just grab the top spot again.
Cons: too much of Cronulla’s chance rests with Todd Carney, a bloke about as reliable as the pokies at Parramatta leagues club. There have also been rumours of Stephen Kearney being spotted lurking in the sand dunes at Kurnell with a clipboard and a bag of witches hats.
6. North Queensland
Pros: the Cowboys currently have three elements essential to a top level team: a great halfback, one of the game’s best props, and no Michael Bani within at least 2000km.
Cons: in past years North Queensland has suffered from a severe post-Origin hangover, finishing their seasons looking more Brokeback Mountain than Rio Grande.
Pros: when not busy scraping together cash to cover the extra security for Des Hasler, Manly have gone about constructing a solid, if unspectacular, Premiership defence. Always dangerous at fortress Brookie and capable of knocking any of the big teams off on their day (i.e. when Steve Matai doesn’t suffer a crippling injury every single tackle, and George Rose can be lured out of the local Sizzler).
Cons: what Geoff Toovey makes up for in being bloody annoying he lacks in having a decent hairdo, especially when put side by side with Dessie’s luxurious locks. The fact that the grandstand at Brookvale oval would probably collapse if forced to accommodate the J. J. Giltinan Shield is also a severe point of concern.
So Roarers, who do you think will finish on top of the NRL minor premiership?
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