Off the Wall

This may provoke a debate, but in my view this week is the best week of the season - the week leading into the first round of the premiership.

Why? Well it marks the end of a long off season - something like five months. It has been even longer this time round given that the cricket has been boring and predictable.

But this is also the week when every fan is a winner - the one week when last year's premiers start off equal with last year's wooden spooners.

The dislocated trials also add to the intrigue. The All Stars v Indigenous game certainly changed the pre-season regime for many clubs. Just how that will impact time will tell.

A number of trials were also played in atrocious weather conditions. Trial form is never reliable - this year probably even more so.

Fingers crossed, the off season has also been significantly less incident free than last year - but then there are still five days to go!

Some things change, some don't - and we should hardly be surprised that Channel Nine's approach to the match of the week has not, and won't.

To my mind the match of the weekend is the Eels v Dragons. It will be shown live in NSW, on replay in Queensland. The Broncos v Cowboys game will be live in Queensland.

There is nothing wrong with that if you are a Broncos or a Cowboys supporter - but the purists would love to be watching the Eels v Dragons live, without being absolutely crammed with ads and finishing close to midnight as a result.

But that is an argument I am never going to win - Nine will have a ratings winner in Sydney and Brisbane on Friday night. So we need always remember, Nine has the pick, and supposedly chooses the best game for Friday night. It picks the best rating game in the two state capitals.

Given the Cowboys very average performance last year, and the much better showing by the Titans, one wonders if a Broncos v Titans clash will open the season in Queensland in the future? The Cowboys really do need to deliver in 2010.

The other much anticipated aspect of the 2010 season is going to be just how much support the Melbourne Storm will attract when they start playing at their new state of the art stadium in Melbourne. But we are going to have to wait until, I think round 9 in May, to find that out.

The Storm could not have asked for a better lead in to the launch of their new home ground - a premiership, and a world club championship. Though the month will be crucial for the Storm on the field as four of their first five games are away matches - and the team will only play three home games before they have their first match at their home ground.

Added to the undoubted wear and tear from the trip to the UK - and playing the game in atrocious conditions - the Storm are going to be at their very top to navigate the first eight or nine rounds.

But there are other intrigues as well.

Will the promise shown by the Rabbitohs and the Roosters continue? For the good of the game we must hope so.

How will the Knights manage debilitating off field dramas which have seen two senior players depart?

And on it goes.

David Gallop is right to be wholly optimistic about the 2010 season - and the timing could not be better as this will be the season which will be critical in determining whether we get the post 2012 television rights agreement the games needs, and I believe deserves!