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Rugby league is better than Clint Eastwood

Matt Cleary Columnist

By Matt Cleary, Matt Cleary is a Roar Expert

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52 Have your say

    So, just 13* sleeps now until Round 1.

    Round 1, that is, of the 2017 NRL Premiership sponsored by the excellent telephonic services company Telstra (whose tagline isn’t “Telstra! Join us and have more conversations with Filipino people than Douglas McCarthur” but should be), and the joint is ready to rumble.

    Rumble? Yes, rumble, baby. It’s rugby league. It rumbles. And the people who play it are the world’s foremost rumble merchants. The Merchants of Rumble. I like it.

    American football, high-speed hockey on ice, even old cousin Rah-Rah, these pastimes can boast some serious hombres and bad-ass-men who can cause their fellow humans a great deal of physical pain.

    But rugby league.

    Only rugby league has such a plethora of rough and tumble rumble people. And if you like big humans running very quickly at other big humans, then rugby league is the game for you.

    Consider Shannon Boyd of Canberra Raiders. A giant well-muscled man-beast, he could rumble up guts for Australia, and has. He’s like the ‘Swede’ in Heartbreak Ridge, old mate with the muscles who tells Clint Eastwood that he’s going to rip his head off and do a poo in his neck.

    And then Clint Eastwood blocks the Swede’s haymaker and bops him hard on the jaw, and all the other Marines, led by Corporal ‘Stitch’ Jones (Mario van Peebles) became immediately obedient.

    And it’s a pretty good film, if a little gung-ho about celebrating the glorious defeat of Grenada.

    Anyway. Shannon Boyd would bash the shit out of Clint Eastwood. This ain’t Hollywood, pal. Cop that. Whack. And then Clint would down.

    And so would you.

    Say you’re standing on a corner and waiting for a traffic light to change and minding your own business, thinking about the difference between Doritos and CCs, say, or whether Donald Trump may one day actually launch nuclear weapons at South Korea and/or Australia, and you’re just standing there, musing, in space.

    Well, if Shannon Boyd had a 20-metre run-up and ran into you full tilt, if he just, you know, decided to take a 20m run-up and charge directly at you and smash into you, then it would feel like you’d been run over by Makybe Diva. You would be road kill.

    Few years ago I drove around Australia, did the big lap. Outside Carnarvon in Western Australia there was a stretch of road that had more road-kill than you’d see in Tasmania in a year.


    There were roos, wombats, sheep, cows, eagles, camels. Camels! So you drive through this channel of death and come out the other side after ten kilometres of carnage, and there, side of the road, with a big smile and two thumbs up – Shannon Boyd.

    Ha. No he wasn’t.

    But if Shannon Boyd ran over you, you would be like a desiccated dead camel in Carnarvon.
    Because rugby league.

    Rugby league is big man-animals running into other big man-animals, and thundering about, and sweat-spray and jolting collisions and froth and bother.

    It’s bloody great, rugby league.

    And if those crazy Poms had taken some time to harness the beast that was Sam Burgess and actually given him a decent amount of time to learn the bloody game he could’ve been a barrel-chested and quicker version of the late, great Jerry Collins.



    Anyway! Rugby league isn’t all camel-killing Clint bashers. No. There’s super-high skill by super high-skill exponents. There’s craftiness and guile and fine, soft and delicate hands from jockey-sized sneaky people Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith and Josh Hodgson.

    There’s ridiculous acrobatics by men who can fly in the air.

    Johnathon Thurston North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League NRL Finals 2016

    Benji Marshall can’t really rip off that mid-air sidestep any more but he’ll still suck them into Suncorp because he is who he is, the funkiest hep-cat the game’s ever seen.

    Well, until Roger Tuivasa-Sheck came along and shot off both feet at the same time. How about his party move: he runs at the opposition, square on, hops into the air, wobbles his head with his tongue out, and as he’s coming down decides which foot he’ll shoot off from. And then he does. And you can’t tell which foot he’s stepped off until he’s gone past you with his tongue out.

    He kills ‘em, Roger.

    There’s a kid called Kalyn Ponga who in highlight reels looks like he’s beating an entire team of orange witches hats.

    There’s Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana who’ve formed a better right-wing combination than Donald Trump and Fox News.

    There’s Greg Inglis and Matt Moylan and Jimmy-Teddy Tedesco whose feet could power a speedboat. Instead of an outboard motor you could sit Teddy on the back, facing backwards, feet in the water, and tickle him. You could tow a troupe of water-skiers.

    There’s Jarryd ‘Hayne Plane and/or Train’ Hayne who’s so good he played in the NFL. He can do anything, Hayne Plane. He’ll fill stadiums like Springsteen.

    There’s Val Holmes and Jason Taumalolo who flirted with America. Hayne may now be off to French rugby. Ben Barba already is.

    Rugby league continues to produce these people, purpose-built athletes who can find other purposes. Kevin Sheedy thought he could turn a couple into Australian rules players. That didn’t work. But they’ve both gone OK elsewhere.

    And here we are.

    And rugby league continues to power on. The game is indefatigable, invincible. You could cut rugby league’s head off and it’d still cart the ball up into the middle of the ruck, and play the ball, and sub off after 20 minutes of big sweat man-action. And there on the bench rugby league would sit, the steam of sweat rising off it like London fog, itching to get back out there and mix it up again.

    Because rugby league.

    *Thanks Jason. I’m a dolt.

    Matt Cleary
    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary is a sports writer from Sydney. He enjoys golf, footy and Four Pines Pale Ale, and spends as much time as conscience allows at Long Reef GC. Tweet him @journomatcleary, or read him at his website.

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    The Crowd Says (52)

    • Roar Guru

      February 17th 2017 @ 6:43am
      Jason Hosken said | February 17th 2017 @ 6:43am | ! Report

      Bit more than six sleeps for most unless you’re on a 2 week bender…

      • Roar Rookie

        February 17th 2017 @ 8:04am
        Squidward said | February 17th 2017 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        Depends if sharks become world champions on Monday. Then I’ll be 6 sleeps 😉

      • Columnist

        February 17th 2017 @ 9:41am
        Matt Cleary said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        See above. Thanks mate.

        (What a fool!)

        • Roar Guru

          February 17th 2017 @ 9:45am
          Jason Hosken said | February 17th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          all good mate – because rugby league!!

          • February 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm
            Harry said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

            From 6 sleeps to 13 sleeps – the two holy numbers of Rugby League!

    • February 17th 2017 @ 6:46am
      kk said | February 17th 2017 @ 6:46am | ! Report

      Matt, entertaining spread, but, there is one vital ingredient missing.

      The orchestration of the great Ennio Morricone.

      I recommend Morricone’s works to all in Rugby League from The Minds of Moore Park
      to the sheds of wooden spooners. He invites the senses to be creative in meeting the
      challenges at hand. He gets the brain and body to connect. Essential in the GGoA.

      As they say in Hollywood if production ain’t going as planned…”The music will save us”
      If you don’t fancy Ennio try Tina.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 11:24am
        Birdy said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Well Max I’ll google Ennio later but not so as Tina has always Turned me on.
        Looking forward to the Tigers flogging the bunnies.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 12:48pm
        Herman Hoth said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

        Ecstasy of gold gives me goosebumps every time. Recently he composed the Hateful Eight. The man is a magician.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 2:12pm
          kk said | February 17th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

          Hi HH,

          I automatically link Eastwood with Morricone and Leone. Apologies to Matt
          for stepping outside one of Clint’s lesser films.

          If I were on the training staff of a RL club I would introduce the music of
          Morricone whereby players would hold hands in line or circle and simply
          absorb the energy emanating from his genius. Try it at home too!

          I put Rugby League at the top of all sports and with the same reverence
          in which I hold the above mentioned trio: masters of their craft.

          • February 19th 2017 @ 12:19am
            Herman Hoth said | February 19th 2017 @ 12:19am | ! Report

            An interesting training method indeed Max, but I believe it would be very successful. It’s impossible to not be able to feel something listening to his music.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 10:52am
      Edward Webeck said | February 17th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

      wow….that made me even more excited for March 2…thanks Matt for the ride.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 11:25am
      Agent11 said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      “There’s Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana who’ve formed a better right-wing combination than Donald Trump and Fox News. ”

      brilliant. they are making the green machine great again.

      League’s biggest strength is its players, they continually bring the goods and sell the game.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 11:57am
        Birdy said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        And the politically correct left has bought in the virtual 10 meter line.

        • February 17th 2017 @ 4:40pm
          kk said | February 17th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          Line breaker Birdy. More, More, More.

      • February 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm
        Herman Hoth said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Well, Fox News is actually rather moderate, if a little right leaning. They only seem “right wing” because all of their opposition are very much camped on the left. But, nevertheless a clever pun.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 11:29am
      PGNEWC said | February 17th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Knights supporter here — (gritting teeth preparing to apply electric cattle prod to nether regions so he will have a term of reference for what is to come)

      • February 17th 2017 @ 2:28pm
        Ray said | February 17th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

        You don’t deserve that….but deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.

    • February 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm
      Jimmmy said | February 17th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

      Great stuff Matt. If that don’t get the blood pumping nothing will. “You could cut Rugby Leagues head off and it would still cart the ball up the middle of ruck”. Plenty have tried and judging by some comments on this very website some are still trying but RL just puts its hand up for the next carry.

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