So you have been gripped by rugby league fever and you know the only cure is to choose a club to support.
But how can you be sure that you choose a side that best fits with who you are and what you stand for? There’s so much information out there and it can all be so confusing.
What can you possibly do?
The good news is that I’ve done all of the hard work for you. Having followed the game for over four decades and been among supporters from every club, I can tell you where you’ll best fit out of the 16 teams.
So read on and soon you’ll be able pull on your new team’s colours for all to see.
The Broncos are surely the club for you! Why? Because the Broncos are the people’s club… the Broncos have the biggest, most patient and understanding fan-base in the NRL. They are truly great people.
I mean, what other sort of supporter would put up with their club – who are the richest, best resourced, with the biggest player-feeding area, not to mention being a one-team town with a population of two million people – not winning a premiership for 13 seasons and only having finished in the top four three times since the 2006 triumph?
I’ll tell you: awesome and understanding people. They are the sort of people who are prepared to constantly go to matches on Thursday and Friday nights in spite of long commutes there and back in heavy traffic. They are the sort of people who are cool with not getting home until midnight on match days, even with the kids in tow.
They are awesome people. They are people who can deal with all the other supporters hating them and their side for all the perceived advantages, in spite of there being no evidence results-wise that all those things have made any difference at all. With all of those things to recommend the wonderful Broncos supporters, how can you not want to be part of it?
Are the terms “what if” and “if only” – as well as “woulda, coulda, shoulda” – ones that frequently leave your mouth? Do you love a good conspiracy theory and believe everyone is out to get you?
Are you able to harbour resentment for past injustices for an incredibly long time, and continually bring them up whenever rugby league is discussed? Do you like to clap in large groups and wear ridiculous headwear? Is it enough for you that your side may not have won a premiership for a quarter of a century but they at least won the greatest one ever?
Do you like to be really, truly, unimaginably cold when watching sports? Are you prepared to get a pay-TV subscription to watch your side play? Do you like really cranky coaches, and are you prepared to help pay his fines? If this sounds like you then you should join the Canberra Raiders and get (into) the clap.
Are you really passionate about following your side, regardless of the results? Can you take the ups and downs and treat them just the same, turning up to the ground, week in week out, regardless of reality? Do you want to follow a club that will always bounce back?
A club that has the sort of spine and resilience that means that it can never be down for very long? That it will always fight back and rebuild? Can you support a club knowing that those downturns will regularly occur?
Are you prepared to don blue and white and march in a fearsome army and yell “BOOOOLDOGS!” and “DOGGIESSS” at the top of your voice and really make your presence known? Following the Doggies is not for the half-hearted or occasional fan: it is a way of life.
They’ll take anyone – regardless of background – as long as you’ve got the passion. You can’t fake it and you’ll be spotted quickly if you try.
Do you like drama on and off the field? Do you get bored if things are running a bit too smoothly? If so, come down to the Sutherland Shire and get on board with the Sharks.
The Sharks will never leave you wishing something interesting would happen. There’s always something going on, whether its drugs (performance-enhancing), drugs (party), poor behaviour (off-field), poor behaviour (on-field), salary cap issues or just infighting and boardroom turmoil.
They will always keep you guessing with never a dull moment. And as a bonus to all of that, the results have been pretty good of late, with the black, white and blue having made the finals for five straight years and finally breaking through for a maiden premiership in 2016.
So if you like supporting a side that is an experience akin to a full-body contact sport – both physically and emotionally – then the Cronulla Sharks are the side for you.
Do you love lost causes? Can you keep track of multiple mascots and iterations? Do you have an affinity for participation awards and are prepared to help out the competition by making up the numbers?
If so, the Gold Coast Seagulls/Giants/Chargers/Titans are the team for you. The Titans are a great side to support if you don’t care who wins, are okay with getting a quarter of your season’s points from the bye, and if you don’t mind your side going out backwards every couple of years.
While you must be okay with traffic jams getting to and from the stadium – as well as constantly having to learn the new coaches’ and players’ names – you will be able to book your holidays and major events (weddings, parties, surgery, etc.) in September with no concerns about ever missing a Titans game.
Do you have a siege mentality? Are you at ease with people hating you and are you prepared to hate them right back? Do you like dilapidated stadiums?
Are you one-eyed in regard to interpretations of the rules and prepared to be incredibly vociferous in this regard? Are you easily baited by other people both in person and on social media or comment boards?
Does the idea of being the bigger person and not rubbing it in when your side triumphs really not sit well with you at all? Do you have an aversion to travelling any great distance away from your own district? Are you prepared to tolerate/take part in board room ructions/club infighting?
If you’ve answered yes to all or most of these then the Manly Sea Eagles are the club for you. Please direct all membership enquiries to: Des, administration demountable (next to the blue Maersk shipping container marked “Bozo’s stuff – Keep out!”), Pine Road, Brookvale, NSW 2100.
If you really aren’t too bothered about knowing the rules of the game, then you should consider supporting the Storm. The ability to erroneously yell out “BAAAAAAALLLLLL” every time a purple-clad player tackles an opponent is looked upon favourably.
You must like the colour purple as you will need to cover yourself in it from head to toe for each game. You need to recognise and acknowledge daily that Cam Smith is the best player to have ever played the game, that he is morally pure as the driven snow and that those who deride him are pathetic haters and liars.
You must be prepared to state this fact continually on social media and comments boards – regardless of the issues actually being discussed. Having an affinity for WWE and a liking for incessant cowbell is a distinct advantage.
Do you enjoy potential unrealised? Does flashy and unpredictable attack excite you, but you aren’t really too bothered about defence? Do you like to experience the thrill of a new coach regularly?
Do you find finals football to be all a bit too much and you’d really prefer a great win in the final home-and-away round instead? Do you enjoy bringing in excellent players from other clubs and then slowly watching them dissolve into irrelevance and obscurity?
Are you fascinated about just how a nation that dominates one rugby code internationally can be so awful at the other and want to watch it all play out in person? If so, you should really think about choosing the New Zealand Warriors as your team.
They are like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get (except of course for mediocrity and underachievement).