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

Matt Cleary Columnist

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    “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…

    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.

    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.

    Jacob Saifiti Newcastle Knights NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

    9. Broncos
    I just don’t like ’em.

    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.

    The New South Wales State of Origin team for the 2018 series remains a mystery, with new coach Brad Fittler facing plenty of selection headaches. So we want you to tell us - and all your mates - who should start for Blues in Game 1 with our team picker.

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    The Crowd Says (63)

    • February 9th 2018 @ 7:18am
      Duncan Smith said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:18am | ! Report

      Benji’s not 42, he’s 45.

      • February 9th 2018 @ 7:22am
        John360180 said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:22am | ! Report

        Manly will be in bottom few.

        • February 9th 2018 @ 9:48am
          Bearfax said | February 9th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

          You’re right John360180. Manly will be in the bottom few…of this list. Given its upside down I can see your logic

      • February 9th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | February 9th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Benji is a legend and will still give the Raiders a touch up again when the Tigers play them. I think he’s only lost once to the Raiders in about 25 seasons. Can he just retire and put us out of our misery. He could be like the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail with no arms and legs and still find a way to get them over the line.

    • February 9th 2018 @ 7:36am
      Peter Phelps said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      I think Matt doesn’t like the Dragons either. They have had a couple of useful pick-ups this year. I expect Graham to be hungry for success with his new club and I think Hunt and Widdop will combine nicely. Considering they just missed out on the 8 this year and I am expecting an improvement, I think the Dragons will be in the other half of the table come September..

      • February 10th 2018 @ 2:32pm
        Dr Chop said | February 10th 2018 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

        yeah this bloke’s kidding himself if he thinks Dragons will run second last. After last year, and considering who they’ve picked up they should make the 8 comfortably this year. That doesn’t mean they will – the Dragons often underachieve but I’d be shocked to see them finish 15th.

    • Roar Guru

      February 9th 2018 @ 7:46am
      Dutski said | February 9th 2018 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      Matt! I usually like your work, and this is no exception. I particularly like your logic and reasoning around the Broncos. To me that cuts to the heart of my success and /or failure with tipping, well, forever. I don’t tip teams because, well, what Matt said about the Broncos.
      In seriousness it’s hard to see where the Bunnies will score points, the Titans need time to gel and will the old legs they’ve recruited last long enough for that to happen? The Dongs look a bits and pieces team.
      Guess I have to wait til tomorrow to find out who you do like, although I’m tipping a Pauline Pantsdown “I don’t like it. I don’t like anything. But I like to dance, and I love the disco…”

    • February 9th 2018 @ 8:07am
      Greg Ambrose said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      The arguments get very intense after the first few weeks of the season when the fired up critics of their own teams coach and recruitment go ballistic when their smoldering resentment is justified by a few poor losses.

      The resultant furious dribble could easily be tempered by a cursory glance at history , especially their own history as a savage critic.

      Teams can have a horror first month and still win the comp or make the eight.

      Of all the teams above I’m struggling to think of too many players who’s careers have progressed after signing with these clubs in recent years. Paul Vaughan and Dane Gagai are two but in general players have gone backwards when they agree to play for these clubs.

      No doubt this can turn around but unless we are seeing some career best form from some players in these teams they won’t threaten too much.

      Thanks also for confirming that the Sea Beagles will be in the top eight as many have had them at the wrong end of the top nine which surely has to be wrong.

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2018 @ 8:36pm
        Nat said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

        Top of my head: Adam Blair went to a GF and on to Captain the Kiwis. Same for Milford and played for Qld. All the Burgess boys have premiership rings along with GI. James Graham proved himself as one of the games best forwards. The Morris brothers both earned rep jumpers after arriving at Belmore.

        • February 9th 2018 @ 9:20pm
          Greg Ambrose said | February 9th 2018 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

          Recent to me is the last 2 or 3 years and Blair did much better at the Broncos than The Tigers but my point is still valid. Belmore has been an absolute disaster for just about any player who has signed recently and if I was to list the players who have gone backwards recently in those teams I would be typing until midnight. I forgot the Broncos were on the list to be honest and the Jet has done well like some others at the club.

          The amount of players at the Dogs and the Warriors who’s reputation has diminished in the last few years is amazing and they will be at the wrong end of the table like most above if that trend isn’t reversed.

          • Roar Guru

            February 10th 2018 @ 11:27am
            Nat said | February 10th 2018 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            Can’t argue with the Warriors, who knows what’s going on there. I prefer to recognise the talent within the Dogs as opposed to the way they were instructed to play last year.

    • February 9th 2018 @ 8:16am
      jeff dustby said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      “And, unless you’re Donald Trump, there can be no argument”- you do realise that Trump has never been considered a player on the stock market or wall street? Hes a property developer who is a lot smaller than he makes out and rearely owns a significant part of buildings with his name
      Maybe use reference that you have some knowledge about? then again if you think Nightingale is not a great finisher and that halves actually pass to wingers then …

      • Roar Guru

        February 9th 2018 @ 8:32am
        The Bush said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

        I think he’s referring to Trump’s obsession with the Stock Market over the last few months as some sort of sign that he’s a great president, despite the fact that almost all previous presidents have avoided commenting, knowing it’s fickle nature (cue the last week)…

        • Columnist

          February 9th 2018 @ 9:23am
          Matt Cleary said | February 9th 2018 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          What he said ^

          • February 9th 2018 @ 2:30pm
            Jeff dustby said | February 9th 2018 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

            Check, apologies but don’t diss the Gale:)

    • February 9th 2018 @ 8:17am
      BA Sports said | February 9th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      You had me at Hello!

      To me your bottom six are about right and Souths in 16th would be a very interesting and possible story line – though i can’t help but think you have gone with them 16th to stir up some of the faithful…
      I think there will be some slight variations in who finishes where – based on which lousy teams beat the other lousy teams, but your bottom six team are correct for me.

      The Broncos first five away games are all against teams you have put in your bottom six, indicating a favourable draw, so I think Cronulla are ninth.

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