So we should support the Roosters just because they’re from Sydney? I think not!

Simon Tatz Columnist

By , Simon Tatz is a Roar Expert

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    The Sydney Roosters are calling on league fans throughout Sydney to get behind them in the finals. Their argument is that, because they are the only Sydney team left standing, fans should want them to beat the North Queensland Cowboys, and then the winner of the Brisbane versus Melbourne game.

    At first, I thought this was a joke. Here is a team with so few supporters that their home fixtures look like a film set from a post-apocalyptic movie where only a handful survive, and now they want other well-supported clubs to be pretend-Roosters fans?

    I’d rather watch Jarryd Hayne at training than support the Roosters, especially against the vastly entertaining Cowboys.

    The Roosters’ desperate plea to be liked reminds me of being at the Manly versus New Zealand grand final in 2011. We were going for the Warriors.

    The family sitting in front were becoming mightily miffed at our cheering the visitors from across the Tasman. The mother turned around and asked how could we, as Australians, barrack for a New Zealand based team? She may have used some other words that are commonly used to describe body parts and their functions.

    “It’s easy,” I said. “I hate Manly!”

    I’ll never forgive Matthew Ridge for the 1996 grand final (he was tackled!) and anyway, who wants to see the Sea Eagles victorious? The Warriors play a style of football I enjoyed watching and I wanted them to win a premiership.

    I may have added some suggestions about what she could do with her Manly scarf, beanie and flag. Respectfully, of course.

    The NRL is flourishing because of the non-Sydney based clubs. On average, in the past decade, typically four of the top eight teams are not from the Harbour City. And here’s something to argue over – the non-Sydney teams are not just good, they are setting a standard that the Sydney clubs find hard to emulate.

    Every week the Broncos, Storm, Cowboys, Knights and occasionally Canberra get huge crowds at home games – crowds that make a deserted ANZ Stadium an embarrassment. As a Canberra resident, we do have an excuse – GIO Stadium can resemble Ice Station Zebra and the concept of global warming certainly hasn’t reached the uncovered stands.

    NRL Finals empty seats

    (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Of the four left, two are interstate teams I admire greatly as a league fan and would like to see win.

    The Melbourne Storm are incredible. I don’t always like the way they hold down players and otherwise skirt the boundaries of the spirit of the game, but they are, and have been for two decades, the best team. They’ve played in seven grand finals and been in the finals almost every year since they joined the competition.

    They field Cameron Smith, Cooepr Cronk, Billy Slater, Cameron Munster, the Bromwich brothers, Will Chambers, Suliasi Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr. If they win, they deserve it.

    They are exceptionally well-coached and disciplined, as they showed against Parramatta in their first final. Most other teams would have lost that match. But not the Storm.

    Their composure (which many of their players bring to Queensland’s Origin side) is the standard every team aspires to. Every Storm player knows what is expected of them, they’re all excellent positionally, and they give away few penalties.

    Likewise, any Wayne Bennett-coached team is a pleasure to watch (okay, maybe not the Knights, but that’s another story).

    Bennett has won six from seven grand finals with the Broncos (and one with St George Illawarra), only losing the other by a point. That is some record.

    Like Melbourne, Brisbane’s positional play is almost perfect, they play a smart defensive game, and in Josh McGuire, they have on of the best forwards going around.

    Josh McGuire Brisbane Broncos NRL Rugby League 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    I’m not going to pretend to cheer for the Roosters, a team I disliked since I first learnt to swear at the TV, just because their home ground is not in Victoria or Queensland.

    We should do away with this bizarre notion of Sydney fans wanting other Sydney teams to win. I don’t want the Roosters or Sea Eagles or Sharks to win – I spend 26 weeks a year praying to the God of Bad Bunker Decisions they are not victorious.

    What, suddenly I’m going to dress up like a giant Isa Brown and madly cheer Trent Robinson’s men on because of the city they’re from?

    I’ve never understood this type of blind loyalty, not to your own team but to some regional border. Not everything ‘Sydney’ is good. Barracking for the Roosters based on where they collect their paycheque is utter nonsense.

    Once my team is out of the finals (or in the Dragons’ case, never in it) I go for the team that plays the most entertaining footy and deserves to win.

    I won’t begrudge a Storm premiership, as they’ve been the best team this year. Again.

    Simon Tatz
    Simon Tatz

    Simon Tatz is the former sports adviser to the Federal Labor Party and the Australian Greens. He has written about ethics and sport and been a contributor to The Drum.