After 18 mentions in 18 minutes in last Friday night’s Roosters vs Broncos semi-final, I finally realised that rugby league is no longer just rugby league. It is officially Finals football.
And we all know that “Defence Wins Premierships”, the glorious exception being the Wests Tigers in 2005. So forget the Grapple, the Crusher and the Prowler – they are so regular season. Here are the Top 5 tackling techniques you can expect to see in the NRL finals:
1. The Groper (c) – last week’s big story was that the Broncos could be dark horses for the premiership (mascot-wise, they’re in fact the only horses). Now we know why: The Groper. With Thaiday executing up front, Boyd patrolling the (on-field) flanks and Hunt in the last line, this tackling technique ensures no attacker will cross the line without a hand laid on them. Particularly potent in night football.
2. The Choker – the Cronulla Sharks have this one down to a fine art. Two minor premierships, three grand finals and nothing to show for it. With the delightful Ricky Stuart at the helm (and Greg Bird and Paul Gallen lurking too), long may it continue.
3. The Shaver – invented by supercoach Craig Bellamy, this tackle is designed specifically to combat the Ruben-Wiki-tribute-beard-toting Warriors. The vowel-choking, mana-infused Samsons knocked off the Storm in a second-last-minute upset last Sunday; Bellyache is determined it won’t happen again.
4. The Haka – New Zealand’s answer to Melbourne’s machinations. Should a re-match eventuate on October 5, expect to see thigh-slapping, chest-beating and (hopefully) throat-slitting, should the Storm Boys get too close.
5. The Beaver – Des Hasler’s Sea Eagles are a brilliant defensive team because Steve Menzies has passed on his secret: The Beaver. This tackle strikes not-too-high and not-too-low and is particularly devastating when combined with The Shaver. I believe the technical term for this is The Brazilian.