NRL heavyweights wrestling to the top
Riding high. The Bulldogs claimed the minor premiership with a win over the Roosters (AAP Image/Colin Whelan).
The superstars of the wrestling world were in Australia over the weekend and just like the heavyweights of the WWE, the big guns of the National Rugby League flexed their muscles too.
While wrestling legend John Cena was hitting his ‘Attitude Adjustment’ finishing manoeuvre on a seven-foot tall monster up and down the Eastern seaboard, the NRL’s own heavyweights were putting their finishing touches to their pre-playoff plans.
Ben Barba and his Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs put emphasis on an incredible season by destroying the Sydney Roosters and in the process locking up the J.J. Giltinan Shield.
Like anyone really needed reminding just how exciting and dangerous the Bulldogs are.
The WWE Heavyweight Champion, CM Punk, was also in town defending his title in a series of submission matches.
Rugby league’s equivalent to Punk is our own defending champions, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. Geoff Toovey and his players continue to turn up the heat after six straight wins and are a real chance of keeping their crown.
Just like the WWE Champion, Manly love to beat their opponents into submission. They are ruthless, skilful and can play as tough as any other team in the competition.
After winning a game each during the regular season, these giants of the NRL come together for another showdown at ANZ Stadium.
Bulldogs v Eagles III happens this Friday with everything on the line. The winner with a passage through to week three and the loser forced to play again next week.
There are grudge matches across the park. Ben Barba v Brett Stewart, Jamie Lyon v Josh Morris and of course the two coaches.
“I think Manly deserve to be favourites,” Bulldogs captain Michael Ennis said at the Captain’s Call in Sydney on Monday.
“We finished where we did and that’s a wonderful achievement for us as a club, but Manly have certainly got a wealth of experience across the board.
“They’re reigning premiers and pretty much other than David Williams they’ve got their full roster back on the field.
“It’s hard not to (rate Manly as the team to beat) … they’ve got themselves into the top four, they’ve responded to everything that’s been thrown at them.”
Who says there won’t be a fourth instalment in 2012?
The Undertaker, a gothic giant who banishes opponents with the “Tombstone Piledriver” didn’t make this tour to Australia with the legendary grappler struggling with injury and an ageing body.
Perhaps he could take a leaf out of the Melbourne Storm’s book and watch how they have resurrected themselves to once again be a threat in the Telstra Premiership.
Melbourne have been to hell and back after the salary cap rorting that rocked the NRL.
Like true champions though, the players have risen once more and have their sights set on grand final day.
First though they must overcome the South Sydney Rabbitohs. A juggernaut that includes Greg Inglis, Sam Burgess and Adam Reynolds. The Rabbitohs have their best chance at a title in decades.
Unlike the WWE though, our matches aren’t predetermined. We don’t know who will win or what is going to happen. Anyone of these eight heavyweights can win the Telstra Premiership.
Anything can happen and it probably will.