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The Roar


Queensland rugby league in decline: State prepares to re-annex Melbourne

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17th July, 2019
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Queensland once laid genuine claims to being the new home of rugby league, with years of domination almost stealing the game away from its spiritual home – inside Rupert Murdoch’s wallet.

But now the state is stricken with gloom, with the club scene and the Maroons mired near the bottom of their respective piles in an unprecedented funk that could inflict an inaugural state-wide September of premature Mad Mondays.

It’s pretty bloody good actually.

Queensland’s slovenly decline has begun with Brisbane, the Cowboys and the Titans enduring forgettable 2019 campaigns and reached a crisis point when Kevin Walters’ second series loss further heralded a new era for the Maroons: reality.

The anguish has been further punctuated by the Titans sacking Garth Brennan, with the sagging organisation now on the hunt for a new coach to typify the club’s culture and long-term future, which is great news for the region’s backpackers.

With the state on the spiral at both club and Origin level, it means the only interstate domination enjoyed nowadays by the starved Queensland public are federal elections.

So with Origin fixtures failing to sell-out and the Titans and Anthony Seibold contractually bound to the state for at least another four years, how does Queensland arrest its loss of identity as unbeatable bastards?

Naturally, there is no panic up north. That’s because Queensland is a stoic state that will revert to what it knows best in times of crisis: unity, ingenuity, hard work and annexing the Melbourne Storm.

Queensland has enjoyed an affinity with Craig Bellamy’s evil hermit state for many years now, adopting the club as one of its own thanks to a booming diaspora of Maroon talent, and because they win heaps.


In fact, the Sunshine State has always secretly wished Melbourne was its third franchise instead of the Titans, mainly because unlike the Gold Coast, it’s nowhere near the NSW border, it’s not full of white-shoed retirees from the south and it’s not crap.

And why wouldn’t they take ownership?

Melbourne – a city separated geographically by 850,000 square kilometres, with a disparate climate and divergent attitudes towards social issues – is a natural fit to be Queensland by proxy.

And besides, annexing the Storm is just the latest chapter in Queensland’s colonisation of everywhere, which has seen the state’s boundaries redrawn to encompass Bowraville, New Zealand and the rest of the Pacific Rim.

Cameron Munster runs with the ball.

(AAP Image/Darren England)

But while Queensland planting its flag in anything nice is probably just innocent warehousing for personal gain to the detriment of all but themselves, we petty establishmentarians must remain wary of any Queensland/Victoria alliance, even if it spawns from pleasurable beginnings like the Maroons getting done on the bell.

That’s because any pair of dissidents whispering in the corner should be treated with suspicion, because this is the type of behaviour that led to the rigging of the US election, and worse, Super League.

Knowing the evil capabilities of the QRL and the Storm administration, they could be formulating a breakaway competition that fulfils their myriad of dictatorial desires, one where the entire state of NSW is a feeder competition and Billy Slater is player of the year in perpetuity.


But until this garish dystopia takes place, can Queensland blame its current demise on any particular factor? Is it cyclical? Is it poor strategic direction like offering five-year deals to players like Anthony Milford? Or is it just Anthony Milford?

Like most things wrong in my own life, my therapist blames the Maroons’ eight consecutive Origin titles.

While it wrought unspeakable torture outside of Queensland, this golden era has affected the state in ways similar to the West Indies’ iron grip on cricket from yesteryear, as evidenced by the next generation of Maroons being forced out in droves to sprinting and bobsled.

Queensland rugby league must be careful, as more failure in performance could result in even steeper decline whereby the next superstar teenager is inexplicably lost to the internet, or even rugby.