25 rounds, 192 games, #Origin on a Sunday, and a September Grand Final.
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A short, sharp pain followed by a burst of warmth and a sensation of fluid running down the forehead through the eyes, across parts of the face and into the mouth giving a tasteful metallic flavour. White blood cells rush frantically to the scene of the damage, desperately trying to clot the open wound. By this stage a clearly visible cut has spilt blood all over the right hand side of Michael De Vere's head, which is promptly actioned by referee Bill Harrigan who insists De Vere seek medical attention in compliance with the game's bleeding regulations.
A medico greets Michael with a device resembling an office stapler, wipes the blood clear to get a proper view of the gash, then proceeds to staple the cut together with the aforementioned apparatus. A cameraman, let's call him Joe, focuses on De Vere as the small metal spikes pierce the skin, bounce off the skull and wrap around to fasten the flesh together, giving the little white blood cells a helping hand in their ominous task. Two staples and a few blank shots later, De Vere repositions himself in the back-line.
That's State of Origin ladies and gentlemen.
But this incident has brought with it a wave controversy that threatens to destabilise the very essence of our hallowed mid-season representative confrontation. The very essence, which since 1980, has placed State of Origin Rugby League atop the highest echelon our great game has to offer.
That essence is passion.
Wednesday night marked a return to the old fashioned arm-wrestles of yester-year with punishing hit-ups and brutal tackles intertwined with a level of skill known only unto the gladiatorial playing arena of Origin football. With this extreme body-jarring activity comes the likelihood of blood making it's way from the sanctity of the human body to the playing surface upon which the contest is carried forth.
However, despite the reality that such an event will inevitably occur, the esteemed Geoff Carr still has a problem accepting a few running repairs to a player's head. Geoff would prefer that head stapling occur behind closed doors so as to avoid mother's being put off by the visual stimuli that our mate Joe behind the camera streamed into our lounge rooms on Wednesday.
Trust me Geoff, mums know their kids get hurt.
But to suggest that by disallowing such things to take place in order to protect the game's image in front of worried parents only serves to insult the very people you intend to protect. In fact, if De Vere headed off to the change rooms in pursuit of medical attention, it would simply open up our imagination to other more gruesome alternatives that only a worrying mother would conjure.
"How did they fix his head?" I hear one mother cry?"Maybe they dropped a swathe of blood-sucking leeches onto the affected area until there was no further presence of claret before stitching it with a rusty nail and a stray piece of thread they found on the ground" exclaims the mum in the next seat.
No they didn't, because we saw what happened. De Vere stood there and took it like a man. He didn't flinch, he didn't wince and he couldn't wait to get back into the action. And I bet his mum was grateful to know her son was ok, and I bet his dad loved every second of it. The barman probably poured De Vere senior a complimentary beer out of respect.
Which brings me to my next point - what does Geoff Carr do? From where I'm sitting Geoff Carr has done nothing good for Rugby League. During the Super League war in 1995 he tried to merge two geographically divergent and demographically opposed clubs into some sort of "super" club which would apparently be St George's best option of survival in turbulent times. The Dragons, who went on to figure in the following year's Grand Final, gave him the golden handshake. He was thrown a lifeline by Ken Arthurson and has disappeared into some kind of transitory ether from which he emerges now and again to grace us with his mindless thoughts.
I think the NRL would be better served by appointing a mum to the position of "Communications Manager" (whatever that means) in order to restore some common sense to a position currently held by a dinosaur of the modern game.