Heading into this year’s NRL final series first weekend, there seems to be two major questions: first, if either Mat Rogers or Todd Carney win the Grand Final, do they have any spare flesh for the traditional premier’s tattoo? Secondly, are Manly able to get within a bull’s roar of the Dragons on Sunday?
I’m going to make the bold prediction that it may not be the blood bath so many people are expecting.
First, racking up big scores is not what the Dragons do. Of the top eight sides, only Canberra scored less points this season than the minor premiers. The Dragons’ pole position was built on miserly defence, not trailblazing attack.
The Dragons modus operandi is to get out to a twelve point lead, and then squeeze the life out of the game, with Jamie Soward pinging the ball into the corners.
While they’ve been hurt by injuries, the week has been ideal for the Sea Eagles. No, honestly, hear me out.
Des Hasler said on Tuesday, “we won’t be adopting a siege mentality.” That told me one thing: they will be adopting a siege mentality.
The Sea Eagles will love this “no one gives us a chance” stuff. They’ll be lapping up the whole “everyone hates us, they want us to lose, poor old us, they’re just jealous” mantra, which is ingrained in the Northern Beaches psyche.
Let’s face it, any group of people who can believe that you can live in a Dee Why ant-hill apartment and have your nightspot options compromising of four different RSLs, and still believe it’s “God’s country”, are folks that can swallow a line.
I believe the crystal wristbands are also popular in the area.
Of course, I can say this because I spent my youth working out which of the RSLs to attend.
I’d be surprised if the likes of Kieran Foran and Anthony Watmough didn’t play. It might take a few needles, but they’ll get on the paddock.
What have they got to lose?
That’s what makes the Sea Eagles dangerous, and who is to say what will happen if the Dragons get behind or can’t put them away?
People by now should have worked out that predictions mean little. Remember when Parramatta were title favourites and the Warriors were specials for the wooden spoon?
Speaking of the Warriors, surely Ivan Cleary must have come very close to collecting “Coach of the Year” award at the Dally M’s. While Brian Smith was able to kickstart the Roosters with Todd Carney, Cleary had to revive his reputation relying on the little known James Maloney.
The Warriors have been the year’s quiet achievers, and came within an ace of claiming a top four spot. Cleary is probably just happy for people to have stopped writing his coaching obituary, but he deserves plenty of praise for his efforts this year.
And should Scott Prince not play the full 80 on the Gold Coast, whose to say they can’t snatch the goodies there.