The cover of last week’s Big League magazine screamed ‘1,000 not out’. The image of 400-gamer Cameron Smith stood at the forefront of triple centurions Benji Marshall and the understated Gavin Cooper.
Tim Gore claims Melbourne and the Roosters are two of the NRL’s least popular teams – but that’s not true when you compare them to asbestos.
As attested by my learned and equally handsome colleague on Thursday, Sunday’s grand final speaks to the heart of the people much in the same way as cholesterol.
More NRL Grand Final
» MITHEN: Roosters finally meet expectations
» Match report: Sydney smash Storm
» Seven talking points from the match
» WATCH: Video highlights from the match
» Sydney Roosters player ratings
» Melbourne Storm player ratings
» Best and funniest tweets
Apparently the rank and file aren’t percolating at the prospect of perennial elites going hammer and tongs at each other on a Sunday night, one attacking the neck while the other pegs wads of cash.
Personally, as a Roosters fan who brushes criticism off his Armani suit like a trivial $100 bill, I disagree.
This match will capture the imagination of the people, mesmerising everyone from diehard fans of ‘rugby’ and the ‘Storms’, all the way up to a small enclave of TV execs in the east.
Many scoff at the clubs’ respective fan bases, claiming they are full of doctors, lawyers and the ill-informed, but didn’t we all just spend the week offering expert analysis on rotator cuffs and the judicial process?
With both the Storm and Roosters figuring in 14 deciders since 1998, many are also bleating that both have enjoyed their moment in the sun – but that’s crap too.
Personally, as a Roosters fan, I’ve learned to really treasure grand final week. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing that only comes along triennially.
Storm fans experience much the same, except triannually.
While the rest of rugby league would describe the years in between like the blissful 20 minutes in the car between work and your burdensome family, we know everyone is enamoured by the romance of these two battlers.
Look at the team sheets. Craig Bellamy and Trent Robinson’s squads are so working class they don’t even have halfbacks.
The Storm were established in humble beginnings, bankrolled by the blank cheque of an honest-to-goodness media mogul who makes ends meet by controlling politics.
In their short history the club have earnt a reputation for a range of accused methods of ‘cheating’, which is really just a loser’s word for ‘innovation’.
But the club continues to be ostracised for thinking outside of the box, with everyone preferring to cry foul about their laundering, wrestling and reliance on Bill Harrigan. What does that say about you?
Despite another week of turmoil, the plucky Storm have somehow managed to scrape a side together for Sunday night after Billy Slater was cleared in controversial circumstances at Tuesday’s judiciary hearing.
He was eventually given the green light, with the hearing regrettably running short of the desired finish of 10pm Sunday.
While unconfirmed, the deliberations were allegedly delayed with the panel held up while being instructed by Cameron Smith.
Melbourne fans erupted in jubilation at the news of Slater, with many finally able to identify him after he was painted in a mural earlier in the week.
On the other side, the Roosters are a foundation club from the rough side of the tracks on Bondi, struggling from contention to contention as a halfway house for the elite.
The club is noted for its affection amongst the proletariat, enjoying the patronage of people’s champions like Malcolm Turnbull, David Gyngell and Gus Worland, the latter who is only so rotund because he likes to wear every premiers shirt he owns at once.
The Roosters copped another kick in the guts with the loss of Cooper Cronk; however, his absence opens the door for young up-and-coming halfback Mitchell Aubusson to finally make his mark as a Tuesday smokescreen playmaker.
While yet to be confirmed, Cronk is likely to rule himself out of the grand final when he discovers Cameron Smith will be there.
Despite their poor luck, the Bondi club continues to inspire kids to believe anything can be achieved with a tsar’s money.
And if these hard luck stories aren’t enough to thaw your cold black heart and tune in on Sunday, then try the cast of saints-in-waiting on display.
There’s a battery of likeable heroes on both sides like Blake Ferguson, who at least isn’t Will Chambers, and Will Chambers, who at least isn’t Charles Manson. Plus a slew of Queenslanders.
So please, to all you unreasonable haters with a chip on your shoulder, remember this: this Roosters vs Storm is a fitting decider that rewards the game’s most valuable sector – the corporates.
As for a prediction, get your gold bullion fountain pens at the ready.
Put your house on a Dylan Napa shoulder charge on Slater to save the matchwinning try, causing the universe to explode and thus sending neutrals into raptures because it finally ends an experience that tasted like battery acid, or Chooks 13-plus.