11 hours ago
Off the Wall
Tonight's Kangaroos v Kiwis Anzac test match has more than the result riding on it.
The decision to lift the profile of Test match rugby league is not without its risks. Playing a second Anzac Test match at the end of the season will add to the wear and tear on the game's best players - and on fans!
So what tonight needs to deliver is a good crowd, good television ratings, and a competitive outcome.
The game at Test level is in better shape now that the Kiwis are world champions, and four nation's champions. But the Kiwis need to do better than they generally do in the Anzac Test. I don't want them to win tonight - but a competitive game will add to the credibility of the fixture.
There should be a good crowd at Skilled Park tonight - the media coverage has absolutely trounced the coverage of the AFL's first ever Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns game tomorrow night.
That has been enhanced by the game being the first of many "farewells" to Darren Lockyer - this one will be his last test match in Queensland.
So it should draw a good crowd, and good television ratings...and it is even being shown live by Channel Nine in Melbourne. Wonders never cease!
The one hope we must all have is that no serious injuries result from the game.
The injury toll in NRL players this year has been nothing short of alarming.
There is another aspect of tonight's game that deserves to be applauded.
Hundreds of Kiwis who were the victims of the Christchurch earthquake, and some of their rescuers, have been flown to the Gold Coast for the game. They will be joined by victims of the South East Queensland floods who have been given tickets to the game.
The ARL deserves high marks for this initiative.
High marks and praise also must be given to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs players who, just hours after their loss to the Brisbane Broncos last Friday night, made a trip to the flood ravaged Lockyer Valley where cheques totally over $100,000 were handed over to the local council for victims support.
The funds were raised by the Bulldogs players, and subsidised by the Ipswich City Council and Bendigo Bank.
Rugby league really pulled its weight in assisting the victims of Queensland's floods and cyclones.
Today victims of the floods, and the Christchurch earthquake, will experience some good hearted rugby league generosity...let's hope they see a match worthy of the occasion!