As season 2018 disappears further into the rearview it’s time to look ahead.
Being a rugby league fan means signing up for a rollercoaster of emotions. One week you’re soaring with the birds in the clear, blue sky, the next you’re sinking to the bottom of the ocean with a broken heart.
This year has been a real test for the diehards with inconsistencies shaping every week, every match, and every heartbeat.
Fans are experiencing palpitations as they deal with convincing wins followed by inept performances over the first third of the competition. Not to mention the momentum changes within a game – a 12-point lead with 20 minutes to go is still anyone’s game.
So let’s examine how the fans of every team have fared. It appears that everyone except Dragons fans should be booking a heart-stress test – some a tad earlier than others.
You’re popping Panadols with your corn flakes to ease the pain of six painful losses after your year of high expectations has crumbled.
Every dropped ball and every missed tackle is like a dagger to your heart as you digest each defeat. You look to the heavens and ask when you’ll be enjoying your first win of 2018. You won’t make it through the year. Rest in peace.
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St George Illawarra Dragons
You’re not religious, but you are starting to believe that there is a god.
Your season is sparkling and you currently exude a healthy glow. After most weekends, you wake with a smile and dance the days away, clicking your heels as you go. As your beloved Dragons run onto the field every week, you smile to yourself, confident in the knowledge that you’re about to enjoy another victory.
At this stage, you have a clean bill of health and you’ve smugly deleted your doctor’s number from your phone.
New Zealand Warriors
You are nursing heart problems from previous years, so you must tread gently. Even though your team looks like the real deal in 2018, you don’t want to get too excited – it could stir old problems up.
Your hesitation is justified on the weekend, as you experienced your first loss – against the less-fancied Brisbane Broncos on your home ground.
Stars like Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Tohu Harris are heart-warmers but you feel like you’ll need them all firing as winter approaches.
Last year’s pain is a distant memory as your team is thrilling in attack and defence. After a great start to the year, with a victory over the high-flying Storm, you were drained two weeks later by a reversal of form, narrowly beaten by the Broncos.
But you feel rather healthy overall, sitting high on the table after your team mocked Manly at home with a 38-12 thrashing. Ivan Cleary is your daily multi-vitamin.
After the big pre-season signings of Cooper Cronk and the elusive James Tedesco you were on cloud nine. After six weeks of ups and downs, you struggle to emerge from the bed sheets that you’re hiding under.
Losing to the South Sydney Rabbitohs keeps you up at night and visions of Russell Crowe shatter your dreams, to the point where you dread going to bed.
There’s a throbbing pain in your side and you’re not sure whether it’s Jared Waerea-Hargreaves dropping the ball or James Tedesco not firing. Your heart is broken after the Souths loss, but you tell yourself that there’s still time for repair before the semi-finals.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
After beating the Roosters, your year is absolutely perfect. You’re rabbiting on about Greg Inglis’ return to form and Damien Cook’s pace off the mark. You decide that if you have another child, you’ll name him Burgess as the twin props steam-rolled the inept Rooster pack throughout the match.
Doesn’t really matter what happens next, you’ll be cock-a-hoop until you meet the Roosters again. But, somewhere deep inside, you worry whether hatred is a destructive emotion.
You have a strange feeling in the pit of your stomach and it’s very hard to put into words – other teams call it ‘losing’. You’ve tried antacids but relief only comes when your team shows their true colours. You feel cured as you wallop the Newcastle Knights on the weekend, however you’re not convinced that you’ve overcome your illness, as your eyes seem to water every time they see Cronk in red, white and blue.
Your pre-season was stressful after rumours of unrest, but six weeks in, you feel that your worries were misplaced. You’re sitting high on the ladder, but you’ve had some disturbing moments, like when your heart dropped after sharp half Nathan Cleary hobbled off the field with a long-term injury.
But now you feel absolutely marvellous after witnessing James Maloney magic and a team of passionate, excitement machines.
Most days you’re crankier than Wayne Bennett. You’re off your food and can’t stomach Sam Thaiday anymore. A hint of depression is creeping in, as you can’t see a rosy future ahead. It feels like the good times are over.
You booked an appointment with a psychologist but re-scheduled after your team played with heart against the Warriors. A voice inside tells you that your issues will persist.
You wear gloves to hide your fingers, as you gnawed your nails away during the first month of the competition. Sometimes you feel like your head is the chair that Ricky Stuart keeps kicking on the sidelines.
But lately your heart has been filled with hope – after all, you’re now only one win away from the Roosters on the ladder.
After watching the Parramatta Eels, you’ve decided to throw away the wooden spoon that you purchased before the season began. Most days you’re chirpy and your heart skips a beat every time Kalyn Ponga touches the ball. Is it true love? It definitely feels like it after a few encouraging wins.
Manly Sea Eagles
After only two victories out of six games, you’re starting to feel down in the dumps. You tried to kick the cat, but he side-stepped you twice. The year started so well and your fondness of Daly Cherry-Evans was unwavering, but now you don’t know exactly where you stand.
Your life is at the crossroads as your team hangs in the balance. There’s hope but concerns of stress ahead.
Gold Coast Titans
Life is not a beach. Your team and your spirits are crashing like waves against the shore of Surfers Paradise. After a promising start you’ve decided to prepare for next year to save yourself the stress.
Tyrone Peachey has signed with the club in 2019 and he’s an excitement machine. Maybe life will be more colourful then.
For most of the year you’ve been lost in the ‘Aaron’ Woods. You feel pretty chuffed that you beat the Cowboys, but there is still a bitter taste in your mouth from the memory of several demoralising losses.
It doesn’t feel like 2018 will be your ‘Pay’ day, but you know the Bulldogs are a resilient club and anything is possible. You may even beat the Roosters next week.
North Queensland Cowboys
Just like Johnathan Thurston, your bones are beginning to ache, and you feel tired and worn. Last year’s dream run to the grand final is a distant memory – this year is a living nightmare.
Suddenly you’ve become super interested in the Eels’ games as they’re the only team keeping you away from the bottom of the table. But you’re a champion and you may still surprise us all.
The ghost of James Maloney haunts you – he visits you after a loss to make sure you’re hurting enough for letting him go.
Your dreams of a second premiership in over 50 years are fading fast, although Chad Townsend’s sharp hairstyle keeps you coming back for more.