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Round 1 is here, now we can finally talk about the football

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Expert
13th March, 2019
11

This NRL summer has strengthened the game’s role as a vessel for scandal. But now with the season proper on our doorstep, the competition can finally return to its primary purpose; a vessel for scandal and Origin selection.

With every passing ping of our smart devices over the off-season, many of us began to question if we’d ever see another footballer who wasn’t partially identifiable in grainy portrait.

Such was the unrelenting repugnance, it even overshadowed the game’s good news stories like George Burgess going off-Broadway and Paul Gallen threatening to quit.

Thankfully rugby league is a resilient game that has built an unshakeable immunity to itself, where the ails of repeated systematic financial malfeasance can simply melt away with a thrilling cut-out pass or Cameron Smith sin-binning.

So in light of this, let us rejoice in the return of some rugby league that has been disseminated with consent. Now we can finally focus on the actual on-field issues, like:

Referee bashing
New rule changes have been introduced by Graham Annesley, who has been appointed to a role in Football Operations that will answer directly to the NRL’s referee boss, Phil Rothfield.

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The former parliamentarian wasted no time establishing significant reform before Round 1, mainly because he only has a small window of time before he’s forced in to witness protection.

In good news for the masses, I’ve reviewed all the changes and thankfully, they all suck when negatively applied against your team. Even Ricky Stuart confirmed after relaying the changes that he already has “17 blokes in there hurting.”

This means we can resume the game’s lifeblood- hounding our fine referees out of the country with disproportionate vitriol. Then just watch the soccer mums roll in.

Gas lighting
I’ve been lost through the summer without an NRL administrator providing assurances the game is “as strong as its ever been” from a press conference outside a police station, or by a tabloid that it died a decade ago.

Thankfully with footy season back, we can return to the saturation two-speed dystopia to which we’ve become indoctrinated by major stakeholders.

Lucky for me, I’m immune from brainwashing. I’m also a Scientologist, and we definitely need a ten-team finals series.

Venues
The Sydney Cricket Ground has played host to over 1500 games in its history, which is almost half the number scheduled for the ground across various codes in 2019. This is fabulous if you’re like me and you could listen to Ben Ikin talk all day about root structures.

With the Roosters playing on sand, the new stadium debate and the annual Death of Suburban Grounds discussion all wrapped up in a Sydney-centric political context, you’ll be wishing for a head high shot.

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SCG members stand

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Beattie/Greenberg slamming
The game is desperate for the next generation to have rugby league heroes they can mimic. Regrettably, on current form we are due for a wave of unvaccinated Corey Worthingtons. This, like rising fuel prices, is the fault of Todd Greenberg and Peter Beattie.

Word is the maligned administrators have excused themselves under their own no-fault stand-down policy after not implementing their own no-fault stand-down policy. This has seen hordes of disgruntled fans vowing to never watch another game until Round 1.

But in good news for the pair, there’s no easier time to #TalkTheGameUp when it is almost six feet underground.

Board issues
Nothing gets the fans on their feet like a boardroom coup or directors spat. That’s why Parramatta boast such a tremendously large fan-base.

Did you hear former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has been appointed as Wests Tigers chairman? Not because he’s a high profile supporter, but because he resigned from politics during a corruption inquest and can’t name any of the current squad.

He is a perfect fit for rugby league administration.

Wrestling
The mere mention of wrestling tactics can light up a fan’s face, much like a deliberately-lit factory fire. The concept is like texting while driving; everyone does it, nobody admits it, and it is responsible for the spawn of many hands-free innovations.

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In saying this, I’m confident this 15th consecutive season of this circular debate will be its last.

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Coaches
With the coaching carousel spinning us in to a stupor before pulling to a timely stop right before we all chundered, now we can focus on the main event: who will be the first sacked, and will the Bulldogs be able to afford the payout?

More importantly, will the first departing coach be sacked, swapped, or replaced by someone coerced by leveraging family ties?

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Warning: Souths fans should be very wary if Phil Gould meets Darius Boyd for coffee.