Well then… the completion of the Rugby Championship for the year and the obligatory non-Rugby Championship games last week brings with it one very harsh reality for the southern hemisphere nations.
Eight-time best and fairest Roy ‘Crackling’ Pork and 17-time ‘Most beers drunk between Wollongong and Broken Hill’ record-holder Wayne ‘Spanks’ Spankle toss the pigskin around in a conversational sense.
CRACKLING: So what you reckon about Moeen Ali’s explosive allegations, Spanks?
SPANKS: What allegations are these?
CRACKLING: The ones in his book.
SPANKS: I don’t read books, Crackers. I left the reading up to the missus, she left the plumbing up to me. That’s what we agreed in our vows.
CRACKLING: He reckons an Australian player called him “Osama”.
SPANKS: Is that not his name?
CRACKLING: No, it’s not.
SPANKS: Well you learn something new every day. A bloke should be called by his rightful name, Crackles, for sure. But let’s remember, international cricket is a stressful environment, and these boys are trying to get the best out of themselves.
CRACKLING: It’s about motivation.
SPANKS: That’s right. If, in order to get the best out of yourself, you need to sledge a bit, drop the odd f-bomb, hurl the odd racial slur, then I think the Australian public would consider that a small price to pay.
CRACKLING: The Australian public? Yes, you’re probably right about that.
SPANKS: Anyway it’s all forgotten now, isn’t it?
CRACKLING: Well no, it’s not. That’s sort of the point.
SPANKS: But you know what I mean. It was a long time ago, let’s just focus on how proud the Australian team is making us now.
CRACKLING: Yes. Ye… Yes. Let’s do that.
SPANKS: Anyway it was a big weekend in finals footy. Let me ask you this, Crackling: you’re playing a knockout semi-final, scores are level, one minute to go, it’s the last tackle, you’re still in your half. What do you do?
CRACKLING: Obviously I kick it deep, keep them down there for a set, have a go in extra time.
SPANKS: Ha, you’re a tactical novice, Cracks – the answer is you run it on the last and get tackled in your own half. The Dragons really thought outside the box on that one.
CRACKLING: They’re out now, though.
SPANKS: Yes but they gave us all a good laugh, which is the main thing.
CRACKLING: It was an incredible moment, Spanks, because after the way the Panthers set up at the end of their game against the Sharks, I didn’t think I would ever see a team mismanage a game so badly in my life. Then the very next night the Dragons topped it.
SPANKS: At least Paul McGregor will have a good idea of how to spend the off-season: slapping his players over the head and screaming.
CRACKLING: I still remember my under-21s coach, old Froggy Cumling, after we blew the prelim against Epping Stags. He gathered us all in the sheds, shook every one of us by the hand, and said, “Boys, we may have lost today, but as long as you live, I want you to remember one thing: I am going to kill every last one of you.” And he has been as good as his word. He’s hiding in a bush outside my joint right now. Hopefully ‘Mary’ takes the same tack.
SPANKS: Speaking of poor options, what about the Wallabies?
CRACKLING: Bad move by Izzy Folau, not throwing that pass.
SPANKS: I meant the option to play rugby union. I feel that was a real misstep for them. It’s just not a game they’re suited to. Why not try vigoro?
CRACKLING: I have to admit, watching them against Argentina, it occurred to me that they didn’t seem to be having much fun out there.
SPANKS: They should’ve tried sitting in my spot. They would’ve gained some perspective on ‘fun’.
CRACKLING: What’s wrong with rugby in Australia, Spanks? Is it the coach, the players, the grassroots, the administration, the culture?
CRACKLING: I wonder what David Campese would say if he was alive today.
SPANKS: Moving on to happier things, it was great to see Collingwood have a good win in the semi.
CRACKLING: Absolutely. Everyone loves Collingwood, and the football world had a smile on its face seeing them go through. That makes for a huge prelim between the Pies and the Tigers.
SPANKS: I hear the AFL is making special arrangements for the expected crowd. They’re installing a second MCG to handle the overflow.
CRACKLING: Your sources are always impeccable, Spanks.
SPANKS: But the really big news is the Melbourne Demons, through to a preliminary final. Who would’ve guessed, back in 2000, that the next prelim for the Dees would come along so soon?
CRACKLING: It’s a real tribute to the people who believed in them all these years. There aren’t many of them, but wherever they are, good on you for sticking fat.
SPANKS: But can they beat the Eagles in Perth?
CRACKLING: Well, the Eagles have flown under the radar all year, Spanks. In fact, if you follow the Melbourne footy media, you wouldn’t even know they’re still in the comp. So all the Dees have to do is convince the West Coast players that they actually aren’t. If the Eagles don’t think they have a game on this weekend, they won’t show up, and the Dee will have a great chance to win.
SPANKS: Reckon you’re onto something there, Crackling. One thing’s for sure, we’re in for a great prelim weekend. Pies-Tigers, Eagles-Demons, and in the NRL Storm-Sharks and Roosters-Rabbitohs. What are your tips?
CRACKLING: Tigers by 100, Eagles by five, Storm by 50 and Roosters by High Court challenge.
SPANKS: Looking forward to seeing how close you get. Cheers!