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Starting with the spoon... NRL 2018 ladder tipped in reverse order (part 1)

Benji Marshall at the Tigers wasn't as long ago as it feels. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)
Expert
8th February, 2018
63
3533 Reads

“The number one rule of Wall Street,” says Matthew McConaughey to Leo DiCaprio in the hit film The Wolf of Wall Street is that “nobody, and I don’t care if you’re Warren Buffet or if you’re Jimmy Buffet. Nobody knows if a stock is going to go up, down, sideways or in freaking circles. Least of all, stockbrokers, right?”

And, unless you’re Donald Trump, there can be no argument.

Tipping in the NRL is like Wall Street. Except there can be a lot of argument. The entire game of rugby league is built on argument. The game is an argument.

This very piece will provoke argument. Hell, there’ll be people priming keyboards as you read this very word that will argue that it won’t create an argument.

But it will.

Because it always has.

And therein lies part of the old girl’s charm. People care. And they’re prepared to argue verily about it.

And thus, for your argumentative pleasure, I give you the 2018 NRL season ladder in exact order from the ground up.

And you may get on with punting now that we’ll whack a September spoon upon the bare buttocks of…

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16. Souths
Sorry, Souths. But it’s Souths. Not counting Russell Crowe, the Bunnies have two superstars. But one of them, Greg Inglis, is very old and crooked, and crocked. And the other, Sam Burgess, is but one man, and will spend long minutes of the match not actually ‘playing’.

Important part of rugby league, playing. It’s an under-rated factor in determining a man’s on-field worth, the amount of time he spends off it. And Souths… you can’t like Souths.

You can like the zip-zip man from Queensland, Dane Gagai, he’s been among the Maroons best the last couple Origin series. But around this quality core, there’s… badness. Old men and badness. And their buttocks will know thy spoon.

Rabbitohs players Tom and Sam Burgess

(AAP Image/Action Photographics, Robb Cox)

15. Dragons
Yep – the Dragons. Second-last. They’ve thrown a couple million at Ben Hunt but who’s he going to throw pill to? Jason Nightingale? The man’s a draught horse. Kurt Mann? He’s a case of Mann’s inhumanity to man-fans. Matt Dufty and Nene Macdonald? Not itching the blue pants pocket of Freddy Fittler.

Do like Gareth Widdop, and their forward pack sports James Graham, Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell. And Jack De Bellin. Couple others. But they’re quite a bit light on for stars, the Dragons. Bit light on for everyone.

14. Titans
Steve Renouf says Ash Taylor can be Titans’ Darren Lockyer read a headline on the NRL’s website, proving one thing incontrovertibly: say no to drugs, kids.

Say no to drugs. Steve Renouf? Man – did you see the Pearl run? He was a freaking speed boat, The Pearl. Beautiful mover. Super-fast. And he’s a really good bloke. And if he reads this I hope he doesn’t believe that I actually think he’s on harmful hallucinatory drugs.

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And admittedly I didn’t read the damned piece on the NRL’s website. And perhaps our Pearl made a spectacularly convincing case why Ash Taylor is the Titans’ Darren Lockyer outside of the fact they both wear the number six. But I bet he did not, our Pearl. And say no to drugs.

Ashley Taylor Gold Coast Titans NRL Rugby League 2017

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

13. Bulldogs
Des Hasler turfed out Josh Reynolds to bring Kieran Foran to the footy club, then was punted himself. So Dean Pay – who was a cracking back-rower for the Bulldogs and NSW and Australia, really top player – has… Kieran Foran. Who’s… well – bit fractious, isn’t he, Kieran?

They do have Aaron Woods bopping about in blue-and-white, though he’d have stayed at the Tigers if he knew Des was taking off. And… Sam Kasiano’s going to go bananas in Melbourne and not at Canterbury where they’ve lost James Graham, too, and are all going to pot, despite Dean Pay making them run a lot. Bad Dogs.

12. Tigers
Benji? Benji Marshall is the club’s big signing? The man’s 42. Yes, he’s back to mentor the youth, and run backline plays at lumbering pigs. But Benji … Benji was great in 2005. That was Benji Time. That was thirteen years ago. And that’s all she wrote.

Benji Marshall in action. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

(AAP Image/Action Photographics, Renee McKay)

11. Warriors
Ever seen that film Hunt for the Wilderpeople? Kiwi film. Very good. Funny. One scene there’s a guy comes into a cabin and says to himself, “Man those Warriors are useless!” with particular accent on the first syllable – “USEless” – in that excellent Kiwi-ese accent. And that’s about right. You want to like ‘em. But you can’t. Because they’re useless.

10. Knights
Big improvers. But so is most everyone else. And Mitchell Pearce won’t play for them in Origin, and the kid Ponga might get a guernsey with Queensland. And they’re missing a powerhouse front-rower or three, the ones they have are babies. But you do like them, the Knights, because like the meek they’ve had a heck of a time. But they won’t make the eight.

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Jacob Saifiti Newcastle Knights NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

(AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

9. Broncos
I just don’t like ’em.