Rugby league in the Olympics? Blame it on Rio!
Ben Te'o in action during the NRL Round 26, Brisbane Broncos v Manly Sea Eagles. AAP Image/Action Photographics/Charles Knight
You can almost smell the coconut oil and envisage the daggy dancing as rugby league’s elite set their sights on the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Finally, decades after a boozy end of season trip by the Dragons laid the foundations for the code in the South American powerhouse, the big men will be back to add some real star power to the games.
Just imagine the impact it’s going to have. The local kids having a kick-about with Benny Barba in the side alley.
Cameron Smith getting the full deforestation down at the local beauty parlour. Dave Taylor posing for photos in his Titans budgie smugglers with the ladies down at Copacabana.
Wonderful stuff. Except…I’ve heard a few whispers. Whispers that despite the Brazilian fans rolling out the red carpet for our boys that they might not actually, technically, be invited.
How can this be?
Sure the program reads ‘Rugby 7s’, but that’s just like rugby league 7s, yeah? Which…have more recently become rugby league 9s.
Which in many ways is pretty much the same thing as 10 a side rugby union. Which when you think about it, is only one man off a game of socc…football.
See, now we’re just splitting hairs.
I’m not suggesting for one moment that players from the NRL should just waltz in to a lime green jersey. No sir, although one must admit the Sharks Isaac De Gois makes a compelling case as a player who knows more Portuguese than just the Nandos burger menu.
You have to earn such things, and any rugby league players looking for a challenge should face the same strict Olympic scale testing all hopefuls will now undergo.
Can you go for twenty minutes without tweeting or posting a photo of your lunch on Facebook?
Will you be prepared to spend a week of your time watching the swimming?
And are you prepared to put yourself on standby for the Greco-Roman wrestling?
In addition to this exists the hurdle of NRL players winning over the support of their club coach, and getting a leave pass to travel to the other side of the world to play multiple matches in a day in between courting the Cuban Women’s volleyball team.
Such things are a mere formality though when there’s gold to be had, and I’m sure the Craig Bellamys and Ricky Stuarts of this world will be happy to give a big smile and wave from the tarmac as their best players are whisked away a month before the finals.
Yes, the ‘rugby league ring in’ plan is completely foolproof.
Or, it was until some big mouth journos went and blabbed about it in the papers this week.
Now a number of other countries have gone and pinched our idea like they did our swimming coaches, with special interest players being courted left right and centre for the games.
Apparently the US have already confirmed NFL megastar Calvin Johnson as a starter, and the South African’s have opened talks with Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius as a smokie for a wing spot.
Don’t even start me on the Russians.
It’s a sporting intelligence disaster, and it looks like we might have to after all rely on a bunch of blokes who actually make a living playing on the IRB Rugby 7s circuit to burgle us a medal.
It’s not ideal I know, but hey, crazy things can happen in Rio.
Just ask the members of that touring St George side.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar since 2011. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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