The Roar
The Roar



A user's guide to help you select an NRL club to support: Part 2

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31st January, 2020
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Continuing on from my earlier piece, if you’re daunted by the prospect of adopting an NRL team, I can help you make that decision.

Read on to see among which NRL fan-base you’ll fit best.

Are you the sort of stoic and loyal person that will stand by your side no matter how bad the weather and results? Will you turn up to the game in your full supporters gear even if it is absolutely pissing down and you know that your boys are going to get flogged by 40-plus for the fourth week in a row?

Do you love reminiscing about long-past glory days and star players? Then the Newcastle Knights are the team for you.

The Knights don’t have fair-weather fans, mostly because there has been so little fair weather. However, your fellow supporters will be the sort of people you can count on during the hard times as they’ve had a lot of practice at that. Be advised that you will need a pay-TV subscription – or be prepared to watch at the pub – as the Novocastrians are only ever on free-to-air when they are playing the Broncos, Roosters or Rabbitohs.

Are you the sort of person who likes to get on clubs after the glory days are over and it’s not really clear how they will fare going forward? If so, get on board the Cowboys to witness their decline back to NRL obscurity in the post-Johnathan Thurston era or maybe see them continue to mix it up with the big boys.

A regular fixture in the NRL finals over the last decade – including a memorable golden-point grand final win – in the last two seasons they have started to settle back at the foot of the table, the traditional country of the Cowboys in seasons past. As a Cowboys fan you’ll still have great beacons of hope in the form of Jason Taumololo, Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire and Valentine Holmes.

Jason Taumalolo

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

And who knows? They may just take the Far North Queenslanders back into premiership contention or they could just be making up numbers and doing weird things like playing Coen Hess at centre. So if you like to be surprised by your football sides, you should consider putting your lot in with the Cowboys.


Do you love club in-fighting? I mean, really love it?

Are you prepared to contribute to destabilising the club wherever possible, whether that be by launching a rival board faction, destabilising an existing one, leaking sensitive information or by just blaming and abusing your fellow supporters for your club’s continued woes? Do you possess the ability to throw your jumper a fair distance onto the field in protest when results are really poor?

Are you able to truly believe that the injury crock that’s just been signed to your club on a five-year deal is just about to come good? Do you have the ability to deal with being teased about having the longest premiership drought in the NRL?

Do you think collecting wooden spoons would interest you? If all this sounds good to you, then look no further than the Parramatta Eels. They are the club for you.

Do you like five-year plans? If so, you are going to love the Penrith Panthers because they launch a new five-year plan to take them back to premiership glory every two or three years when parts of the controlling regime are changed – often through brutal coups.

These plans are always really excellent and have the loyal supporters – of whom you can be one – very optimistic about the coming season. Each new plan often comes with brilliant adjustments like new coaches, player clean-outs and massive player and coach marquee signings, which may be subject to the next plan’s clean-outs.

Nathan Cleary.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

If you like watching the junior players that your side has developed playing at other clubs, the Panthers could be the side for you. As well, the team from the foot of the mountains can also throw in some pretty stunning off-field scandals involving the players, as well as great rumours of in-fighting.


In among all of that the Panthers regularly make the finals and feature some pretty exciting play – once the current five-year plan has bedded down, that is. So come out to the beautiful west and find out just how great the future can look when you join your fellow Panthers fans on the Mulgoa Road pilgrimage.

So you are thinking about supporting the South Sydney Rabbitohs? The question is: do you really want to? Are you actually up to it? Are you prepared to be part of something that is bigger than yourself?

Do you want to join a huge and passionate army of supporters that are spread right across the country, to the point that – no matter where you are – there will always be another Bunnies fan there. Are you prepared to literally bleed for your club?

Are you prepared to take to the streets in protest if the club is under threat? Are you prepared to devote your life to it and maintain shrines to that devotion? Will you wear your team paraphernalia wherever you go so that we will always see random South Sydney people in the background of footage and videos almost every day?

Supporting the Rabbitohs is about far more than just rugby league, it’s a religion. So I’ll ask you again: do you really want to be a part of that?

If you want to be part of St George Illawarra Dragons and proudly wear the famous Red V, it isn’t as simple as just walking up and paying your cash. There are quite a few things you have to be able to do.

The question is: can you do them? Can you dedicate yourself to constantly protesting to remove key coaching and administrative staff? Are you the sort of person who is prepared to play the long game in regard to voicing your discontent, dissatisfaction and demands that things change?

Can you come up with great banner slogans to support your efforts, emulating such classics as “Oust Doust” and “Fail Mary”? Are you prepared to travel between Wollongong and Kogarah regularly and do you have a car capable of doing so – or do you know someone who does? Can you keep your cool when opposition supporters call you “Saint Merge”?

NRL Dragons fans.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Will you continue to turn up to games every season in spite of your side missing the finals most years? Think hard about all of these things before you decide the Dragons are for you, because following the Red V is one long, hard crusade.

You want to support a club? How about the oldest and most prestigious club there is? However, it isn’t as easy as just turning up. Not at all.

The Tricolours are a foundation club and – as such – are very select about their membership. As a result their numbers are quite exclusive. So if you don’t like being in large crowds, then the Roosters’ home games are a great fit for you.

The Roosters have a liking for the finer things and are known for making extravagant purchases such as European cars, jewellery, designer fashion, as well as star halfbacks and fullbacks. People with allergies to brown paper and car parks are not well suited to this club.


Further, booking September holidays is inadvisable as the Roosters always play in the finals. If you think you’ve got what it takes to don the red, white and the blue then be at the basement of the of the Wilson parking lot on Grosvenor Street, Bondi Junction at 8am on Friday morning.

Put $500 and your personal details in a brown paper bag and give it to the bloke who’ll come past in a red Mercedes E-Class coupe. They’ll let you know if you make the cut.

Wests Tigers
Do you love going for the underdog? Does the plight of the unwashed and unloved battler draw you to it like a siren song? If so, the Wests Tigers are an excellent choice for you. A merged entity forged from the perennial strugglers the Western Suburbs Magpies and the once-proud Balmain Tigers, the club has only made the finals three times.

However, one of those resulted in the Cinderella story that was the 2005 premiership. If you like the drama of hoping that your side might sneak into the finals – only to have those hopes dashed at the last hurdle – then the Wests Tigers are perfect.

Six times they’ve finished in ninth spot, with three of those in the last four seasons. If you like watching your club develop excellent juniors and then watch them star at other clubs, then the Campbelltown/Leichhardt club will not disappoint.

There are enough ex-Wests Tigers players killing it at other clubs to choke a herd of goats. So if near enough is good enough for you, give Michael Maguire a call on the blower and get on board the orange and black.

When they finally breakthrough for another premiership – or even just a finals gig – you’ll be celebrating like a Bradbury.