This year’s premier will alter history. Here’s how

Robert Burgin Columnist

By , Robert Burgin is a Roar Expert

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    A premiership creates history in more ways than are instantly apparent.

    It’s not just a simple entry in the record books, a few iconic photos and a ripsnorter of a party that stretches for days.

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    The ripple effect in league circles can be astonishing. It can be career-ending, life-saving, legacy-defining, relationship-mending.

    Would the Wests Tigers still be around if they hadn’t won the title in 2005? Would St George have stood alone if they had been on the right side of the ledger in 1992, 1993 and 1996?

    Would Royce Simmons and Darren Albert still be enjoying free beers across the land if they hadn’t played a part in league folklore?

    Here’s a look beyond who stands on the podium on October 1 and what it will mean for each of the clubs, the players and the competition as a whole.

    If the Melbourne Storm win the premiership…
    1. Yet another offseason of tinkering with rule changes and different refereeing interpretations to stop their dominance.
    2. They further consolidate the city’s place in the NRL. We are complacent to forget it was not long ago people wanted Australia’s second-biggest population booted from the competition for being “an experiment”.
    3. There can be no debate Craig Bellamy is the best coach since the turn of the century. Even discounting the two stripped premierships, the harshest critic could not deny his record for success. He will have overtaken Wayne Bennett, at least for this millennium.
    4. After enjoying the club’s two strongest seasons for home crowds, the club will experience a wave of kids who want to play for them for less within the next decade, both from interstate and Victoria.
    5. Cooper Cronk will retire and scuttle the trade plans of several clubs.


    (AAP Image/Craig Golding)

    If the Sydney Roosters win the premiership…
    1. Mitchell Pearce, with two premiership rings to his name, will be remembered vastly differently by future scholars as compared to his current reputation.
    2. Trent Robinson will have successfully transcended that period between being a ‘bright young coach’ and a perennial NRL mentor.
    3. To get them there Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will have to dominate his opposition and overcome the much-vaunted Melbourne pack, thereby rejuvenating his standing from a star who waned to one of is generation’s most feared.
    4. Latrell Mitchell will play for Australia before he plays for New South Wales.
    5. Legendary tales will be told about the time Luke Keary rang Russell Crowe at 4am on Mad Monday.

    If the Brisbane Broncos win the premiership…
    1. Wayne Bennett will make it his last hurrah to go in search of the first back-to-back premierships since the start of the salary cap era.

    2. Ben Hunt will erase any misgivings about his ability under pressure – and become ‘the one who got away’ rather than a player the club was willing to sacrifice.

    3. Pushes for a second Brisbane team will gather even further momentum.

    4. Sam Thaiday will be remembered as a two-time premiership winning forward, not a TV star who was demoted from the captaincy and left stranded one game short of 30 Origin appearances.

    5. If the Broncos hold the trophy aloft, Anthony Milford will stop being seen as sometimes erratic and move into the Thurston-like realms of competitiveness and game influence.

    If the Parramatta Eels win the premiership…
    1. What many perceive as an NRL agenda to have every club win a title under the salary cap will move one step closer to completion. Some will remember this as a good thing, and some will contend it was a tool that contrived success.

    2. Nathan Brown will be one of the first forwards picked for Australia.

    3. Corey Norman will jump up the ranks in the bid to succeed Thurston and Cronk in the Queensland halves.

    4. Mitchell Moses will laugh himself to sleep for a whole offseason.

    5. After incursions by soccer and Australian rules, a Parramatta win will rejuvenate the popularity of league as a junior sport in a key area.

    Semi Radradra Parramatta Eels NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

    If the Cronulla Sharks win the premiership…
    1. The Shire club will have transformed from being seen as one of the most expendable clubs in the competition, to one of its most fashionable and attractive.
    2. Shane Flanagan’s legacy will be one of success, above everything else which preceded it.
    3. A legion of diehard punters who backed the previously drought-stricken club to back-to-back premierships will tell their grandkids they had the psychic powers of Nostradamus.
    4. With four grand final appearances in eight years for three teams, James Maloney will seem every bit justified in his hunt for greater salary, perhaps softening the interpretation of some of his comments in the ongoing pay dispute.
    5. Ben Barba’s cocaine scandal will become a focal point of future documentaries and yearbooks as narrators and authors explain what obstacles the club had to overcome to retain the trophy.

    If the Manly Sea Eagles win the premiership…
    1. Surely some of those ceaseless off-field grudges and cases of infighting will be hosed down. Winning makes all sorts of problems go away.
    2. Trent Barrett will cap a remarkable rise from the bloke who was slapped on the sideline by his coach to the coach who triumphed, while his former mentor collected the wooden spoon.
    3. Daly Cherry-Evans will look less furtively at the bank teller when he cashes his next cheque and 50 per cent of his detractors will begin to cut him some slack.
    4. Akuila Uate will entrench himself as one of the most enigmatic wingers of his generation, converting diamonds to rocks and back to diamonds again.
    5. Any prospect of a rational approach to reducing the number of Sydney-based clubs will be delayed even further.

    Manly Sea Eagles NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    If the Penrith Panthers win the premiership…
    1. Anthony Griffin will completely flip some people’s perceptions of him as a coach that builds stable clubs, but lacks the killer punch for premierships. If he does so, he will coach in the NRL for another decade at least.
    2. Nathan Cleary will firm as a representative playmaker and dissuade all the arguments about his tender age.
    3. Matt Moylan will not be missed if he ends up elsewhere – not immediately at least.
    4. The Bryce Cartwright hype will either be back to unbearable levels, or at a more reasonable level were he’s recognised as a dangerous cog in a well-oiled machine.
    5. News Corp journos who love to slag off Phil Gould for his five-year plan will be forced to refrain from the name-calling and put his club on the back and front page.

    If the North Queensland Cowboys win the premiership…
    1. Jason Taumololo will have elevated himself from a star to a supertstar somewhere between the levels of renown afforded to Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams in their prime.
    2. Likewise Michael Morgan will fully shrug his image as Mr Versatility or a representative super sub and instead be seen as a miracle worker who makes all sorts of possibilities happen in the most dire of circumstance.
    3. It will be another shot in the arm for Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup, with so many players serving lengthy apprenticeships in that competition, and this being recognised in retrospect.
    4. Townsville will receive another massive boost in terms of tourism, promotion and morale. No other city gains so tangibly from the performance of their NRL team.
    5. Johnathan Thurston will see the team can win without him and feel less guilty if he slides on that Queensland jersey one or three more times.

    Robert Burgin
    Robert Burgin

    Robert Burgin is a sports writer of 20 years with a particular appetite for Rugby League's exotic and bizarre tales. Find him on Twitter @RobBurginWriter.

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