Yep, that title is deliberately antagonistic, and there’s a good reason for that.
We supporters of the struggling clubs of the last decade want you to know, to truly understand down to your marrow, just how maddening and unjust hearing that sentiment delivered to you feels when you believe that your side has been subject to incidents that have wrongly cost your team the game.
It is enough to drive you berserk.
But here’s the thing about that, all you apoplectic Purple and Tri-Coloured people, you guys have been some of the very worst proponents of delivering that message to us Wests Tigers, Titans, Raiders, Eels, Knights and Sharks fans during the last decade. A ten-year period where your sides have routinely gone deep into the finals while our sides were already propping up bars at Kuta and Patong beaches.
‘“Smith held the player down for an eternity to give his team time to get back and it stopped a try!”
‘“You were going to lose anyway. Your coach is the problem. He’s lost the dressing room.”’
‘“That pass for the winning try was a mile forward! No way should that have been allowed!”
‘“You were going to lose anyway. Your club’s administration is woeful.”’
I could go on and on. Believe me, I could.
We’ve seen the likes of John Cartwright while at the Titans, David Furner while at the Raiders and Dean Pay the other day for the Dogs basically say that the top sides regularly get the rub of the green with rulings and non-rulings because of a latent vibe that the higher ranked side was better and was probably going to win anyway.
A decision in their favour is far less controversial because, well, they were probably going to win anyway…
While I’m not a guy to accuse officials of bias against my side – mostly because I’ve tried to prove it statistically and failed – I’ve certainly railed against incidents that have cost my struggling side victory against higher-ranked sides and been glibly served up the likes of the lines above.
So when I see the Storm and the Roosters fans going berserk because ‘they wuz robbed’ – and what’s worse against those obnoxious, cheating bastards (respectively) the Sea Eagles and Broncos – forgive me if I feel more than a little Schadenfreude.
Yes, I know it is poor form for me to roll around in a bit of shameful joy. But I’d find it much easier to stop if I didn’t firmly believe that both the Roosters and Storm were going to lose anyway, with or without the contentious issues.
To say this has been an eventful weekend in the NRL is a massive understatement. Following on from Friday night’s brouhaha regarding Bernard Sutton’s sin-binning of Dylan Napa, there was another, bigger eruption in the 52nd minute of the Storm-Sea Eagles clash, when the silicon chip inside Curtis Scott’s head got switched to overload and he repeatedly belted the incessant pest that is Dylan Walker.
The end result was Scott was sent off and Api Koroisau and Walker both got ten in the bin. Unlike the Napa binning, no one had too many problems with any of those calls.
What people did have problems with was when both Koroisau and Walker were allowed back on the field before their ten minutes was up. The Storm officials were ropable that their last moment of personnel advantage they were to have in the game was cut short, denying them two minutes of opportunity to capitalise on the man advantage.
The Fox Sports crew were incredulous that such a mistake could be made, with allegations thrown around about just who was to blame.
That blame will almost certainly get laid at the feet of the NRL’s ground manager at AAMI Stadium. The ground managers are the people responsible for ensuring that the NRL Operation Manual guidelines are correctly carried out at each venue.
That includes how the interchanges happen, who can get into the tunnel and press conferences and what the ground announcer can and can’t say.
The old line spruiked by a player in the 80s that rugby league is a professional sport run by amateurs no longer applies. I work mostly at GIO Stadium in Canberra and our regular ground manager – Brian Roche – is a consummate professional. He has the place running like clockwork and everyone knows he is in charge.
His boss – the NRL Operations Manager – is a bloke called Nathan McGuirk. Nathan has been working in and around NSWRL and NRL rugby league ops since the early 1990s and he knows his job backwards. While he and I have had our disagreements, I have total respect for his knowledge and ability. He is a great Operations Manager.
The problem is that one of his charges seems to have stuffed up and now he’ll have to deal with it. He needs to ensure that ten minutes in the bin is correctly timed by his charges. He needs to give us all confidence that this was an aberration that won’t happen again.
However, just as Gerard Sutton’s (correct) sin-binning of Dylan Napa didn’t cost the Roosters the game, the timing error didn’t cost the Storm the match either.
They were going to lose anyway.
Why? Because there was no Cam Smith there to glue the side together. To focus them. To keep them relentlessly, metronomically on message.
We all just got a little glimpse into the Purple future. If Smith had been on the field he would have ensured that Curtis Scott didn’t get so riled up by Dylan Walker and that he wouldn’t subsequently completely misplace his excrement.
The Storm under Smith are the side that frustrates other players into lashing out. Often they do it deliberately to distract their opponents from their play, to put them off their game plan. Then, when their opponent does lash out with a shove or the like, the whole purple wave floods in to assert dominance. With none, of course, being dumb enough to ever throw a punch.
However – without Captain Cam there – young Curtis allowed serial pest Walker to get under his skin.
Right under his skin. To the point that he couldn’t help himself from smashing Walker repeatedly in the head.
With this incident, we can clearly see that the aura of the Storm is fading and may soon be gone. It sure wasn’t there against the Sea Eagles.
So the timekeeping error didn’t really matter at all. The Storm were going to lose anyway.