The Roar
The Roar


This is not a story about Corey Norman, this is a tribute (to rugby league)

(AAP Image/Jason McCormack)
21st July, 2016
1371 Reads

This column was going to be about Corey Norman and that list of peccadillos for which he’s now been banned eight rounds. And how they aren’t unlike the weekend recreational pursuits of many 25-year-old swinging dicks.

These types enjoy pills and tooling about and using their stupid bloody phones to document their lives and share it with their mates.

I would have further opined that it sounded a bit grubby, for sure, though what adults get up to in their private lives, why should that affect their tenure with their employer, in this case a footy club?

Then I would have added that, why yes, I get that Norman was convicted of a drug charge and that the NRL is a brand and in order to attract sponsors to its brand it has to purvey the myth that all its players – what show business types call “the talent” – are squeaky clean and good people.

And that if players – effectively the NRL’s employees – do things against the law then the NRL has no option but to come down hard upon them.

I would’ve added that the NRL’s product is entertainment and its players are the stars and thus those who would consume rugby league (that’s you, reader, by the way) want to know all the minutiae of these people’s very lives.

And with that comes good things – playing sport for money, big money – and bad things – being the bad boy in the bubble.

Then I would’ve wrapped it up with some pithy schtick about Mitchell Pearce’s $125,000 fine for a dumb drunk gag with a poodle being incommensurate with Norman’s $20,000 fine for things that were actually illegal, along with consorting with known criminals, which must make it hard to play at Parramatta given Danny Wicks.

I was going to write all that.


But then halfway through writing all that I was like, you know what? Stuff this.

With everything going on in the world, all this terrorism crap and people hating on Muslims and all that deeply stupid bloody derp, with Hanson and Trump and those poor deluded dickheads who think 72 virgins await them in paradise so long as they murder their fellow human beings, well… did I really want to roll about in Corey Norman?

Seems I did not.

And then I thought, you know what? How about something positive? How about a yarn about why rugby league is good?

Could humankind be saved by rugby league?

Probably not. But as the late great editor of Inside Sport magazine, Greg Hunter, said after the mass-murders of 9/11, sport shouldn’t pale into insignificance in the face of terrorism. Because at least while people are playing sport they’re not shooting each other. Maybe that’s enough.

And so, in the spirit of positivity that infiltrated this piece a couple of paragraphs up, I present a list of the dozen reasons why I love rugby league.

So screw you, Trump, you d–khead.


1. The Goanna! Greg Inglis’s signature post-try manoeuvre is a marvel of human movement, a celebratory nod to his cracking Indigenous culture and perfectly in context. Because when the big man is ripping it off, his team is winning, going away. Not that he needs any more – but more power to him.

2. Ray Warren. Ah, Rabbits. The great Rabbi. How about him? The smooth dulcet tones, the quick little quips, the well-lozenged throat. And those inflections – oh yes, those inflections. When our Rabbi’s going up through the octaves it’s like Black Caviar powering away from her rivals. And rugby league is a happy place.

3. Phil Gould. Apart from the odd thing (personally not convinced poker machines are the best thing for “communities”, however much they fund rugby league), one largely finds oneself nodding along with Augustus’ eloquent common sense.

4. Joey and Freddy. Watching Andrew Johns and Brad Fittler on the Sunday Footy Show, you feel like you’re having a yarn with a pair of funny smart-arses about footy. Pretty sure Channel Nine is aware of this.

5. Jet Shoes. In a competition as hyper-competitive as first grade in this National Rugby League, it takes a man with “true gas” to truly gas the game’s truest gas-man. And Jimmy Roberts is that gas man.

Give him a five-metre start and you couldn’t catch him with Usain Bolt on a Ducati. Man he’s quick. And he and Joey Leilua could be the Blues’ centres in coming times, I foresee it.

6. Supermen. In olden times the likes of Steve Gearin and Steve Rogers had really cool dives for the try-line. But today they’re leaping – flying! – outside the lines and planting the pill one handed bare television pixels inside the corner stick and paint. It wasn’t conceived of much less allowed in Gearin’s time. But it is now. And it is really cool.

6. Sunday Afternoon. Best time to watch the best footy. And standing on the the hill at Leichhardt or Brookvale, with a cold tinny and a hot dog and a group of mates, these are good times.


7. Brookie Hotel. Gaudy maroon carpet, tradies in hi-viz, hot women in white T-shirts selling schooners of delicious beer, steaks on the cookers. And one minute to kick-off you walk a hundred metres out the front door to the dear, dilapidated footy ground that will never get fixed while locals continue to vote for Tony Abbott as they have for the last 22 years.

8. League Land. You might struggle to find a corporate suite but for pure passion for this greatest game of all rugby league, accept no substitute: Papua New Guinea. National sport: rugby league.

9. The Big Show. Jeff Fenech fights in the ’80s were must-watch. State of Origin has that feel, the one that says: Come Wednesday night, you cannot be anywhere else.

Origin is rugby league played for sheep stations in front of teeming, throbbing multitudes. It has the best theatre in sport: compelling, dynamic, stimulating, storied, and several other words you could suck like word-pictures from a handy Roget’s Thesaurus.

10. Dope Opera. No other sport, business, religion, political movement, cult, terrorist organisation or clique of teenaged girls does melodrama like rugby league. There are dramas that don’t do drama like rugby league. But you don’t always have to write about them.