It was the result no one saw coming, and in retrospect, shook up the whole 2018 finals series.
So – then there were eight, eh? The magnificent eight. The top eight. The quite good eight. The eight.
Though it’s really seven, isn’t it? Because Saints are rubbish.
And the Warriors, I mean, how do you tip the Warriors? How much mind-resetting, corpuscle-cleansing, stand-in-a-circle-linked-arms-with-your-buddies-breathing can thirteen diaphragms do?
Probably a lot if they’re scoring a lot of tries, the Warriors. But these Warriors? I mean, I love ‘em. But I don’t like ‘em. Not for the Big Dance at the end of this man’s National Rugby League season, not no how.
The Panthers? Love ’em! Jimmy Maloney is my man. Nathan Cleary is my cuzzy-bro from Collaroy Plateau (though as Forrest Gump said of his friend Bubba, we are not relations). And that big freak in the front-row, Viliame Kikau?
How about him? He’s a Fijian Dolph Lundgren, a terminator, a giant marauder, the best kind.
I love the Panthers. But I don’t like ‘em. They knocked over the Storm with two blokes in the Bin last Sunday, and that was highly meritorious, of course. But there’s been too much dross to bet upon the Panthers with my money, or even your money were you to, you know, give me your money to bet upon the Panthers.
I would not do that. I would buy something instead. Like a nice bottle of shiraz. Or a new putter. Or a cat.
A cat? I don’t know. Why would you be giving me your money anyway? It’s all a bit far-fetched.
As are Penrith’s premiership pretensions in this the year of our Lord Dennis Lillee 2018.
And that’s because the Sharks are going to win, for they are unholy beast-masters.
Paul Gallen? Beast-master. Andrew Fifita? A truly terrible beast-master. Aaron Woods, Matt Prior, Wade Graham, Luke Lewis – absolute belters all, and beast-masters.
Oh yes, the Sharks are your premiers for 2018, it is the Sharks to win.
Really? The Sharks?
Yes! The Sharks! Have you read nothing? Look at ‘em. All that angry, grunting, nasty up front. All those running fools out the back. Josh Dugan, Matt Moylan, leaping Eldrick Lee.
James Segeyaro is sneaky, and Chad Townsend is a… I dunno. Good. We’ll go with that. He is good.
Val Holmes? Val Holmes! How about freakin’ Val freakin’ Holmes? That kid can run like Forrest Gump pursued by the blood-gargling hordes of Satan, a fine name for a metal band.
Anyway they’re good the Sharks, and even though I don’t like ‘em, I like ‘em. And they are gonna win.
I don’t know if they’re gonna win. But they may. Because they’re good. But there’s others teams that are good, too. And there’s the rub in this super-kooky NRL season in which the eighth-placed team – the Warriors – were just one win behind the minor premiers, Nick Politis’ bank account… I mean the Roosters.
Ha. Just jokes! Roosters people. Just jokes. And come the night of September 30 when your hard-boned pack of meat-eating mega-stars hold aloft the frozen-in-Carbonite-like-Han-Solo forms of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons you can throw it back in the haters’ very faces – suckos, haters. Suckos.
Or you can just enjoy the night. And the very mini-dynasty the great Godfather Uncle Nick has pulled together as one at Bondi Junction, I believe these are your grand finalists at least.
Because look at ’em.
Cooper Cronk! How about Cooper Cronk? Goes alright, doesn’t he, Cooper Cronk. He’s like… really good.
He’s like… he’s not going to be an Immortal, but he occupies the next rung down in the halfbacks’ pantheon with Ricky Stuart and Peter Sterling and Tom Raudonikis and Billy Smith and Keith Holman and whichever you-beaut scrum-feeder was bopping about with Dally Messenger and Frank Burge and Dave Brown, and the other sepia-toned superstars of their time.
So yeah he’s pretty good, Cooper Cronk. And now he’s got a thing going with hot-footed fullback James Tedesco, and James Tedesco is an absolute shredder of a footy player. How good’s he go, Jimmy T?
Don’t answer that. Rhetorical question. Just give me your money. To buy a cat.
Money! Blake Ferguson is money. Big, long, rangy, athletic, skilful. Not a lot going on upstairs in a lobotomised Dustin Johnson sorta way. Doesn’t have to be.
Big Blakey is in absolute prime time form, and just kills ‘em out wide. He’s a killer. A stone killer. The most ruthless kind.
Anyone else? Luke Keary! Yeah, good one, Rusty. Punt Luke Keary. Top move. He’ll dance on your grave at Redfern, baby, put it in your Book of Feuds.
Any more? Of course – there’s a thousand at the Chooks. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 115 kilograms of mountain ash, of molten fire, of… big… ness. He’s good. I like him.
The Chookies will miss the flying thunder-head of Dylan Napa who’s out until the grand or preliminary final or the finals altogether, depending.
But they can call upon Boyd Cordner, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Jake ‘Fifty Tackles’ Friend and a chunky little thumper called Victor Radley who looks The Axe Gillmeister of our time.
Leave anyone out? Yes I did. On purpose. For effect. And that one is… Latrell Mitchell. The new GI. The mighty thundering Taree Red Rover with the surname Goolagong like his great aunty Evonne who won Wimbledon. And you gotta love Latrell and his one-kneed nod to his indigenous roots after his many, many meat pies, he is… is good. He’s good.
And so to forensic examination of the future fortunes of South Sydney Rabbitohs, the foundation club of battlers and sabre-rattlers whom ahem, ‘experts’ tipped for the wooden spoon in March for no reason than there’s usually one favoured team has a slump, but you weren’t tipping the Cowboys because you tipped them to win so you tipped Souths instead who could win it.
Yes, Souths. Good old Souths. Big thundering Burgii brothers. Super-scooting prime time hooker Damien Cook. The mighty Greg Inglis who is, as he often is, in rising form as games rise in price.
Elsewhere Dane Gagai is a super-mover really ripping into his stride. Robert Jennings is sitting out on the left wing, icing the excellent work of the excellent Cody Walker in cahoots with the very excellent John Sutton who aged 34 is a revelation playing better than when he was fringe Origin in ’08. Old Sutto is going gang-busters.
But I don’t like Souths.
I mean, I like Souths. But I won’t put my money on them. Or your money. Instead I will buy a nice cat. So I can kick the poor bastard when Melbourne win the comp.
Because I really like them. But I don’t like them at all.
Forgot to mention the Broncos.
Make of it what you will.