IT?S Origin Time and unless you?ve been hiding under a rock for the past 6 weeks you should be counting down the days til Origin I at Suncorp Stadium May 25th. Both teams have named very strong squads with the only significant injury absences being Andrew Johns, Mark O?Meley and Willie Mason for the Blues while Willie Tonga and Brent Tate are unavailable for the Maroons. And a host of talented players were overlooked which suggests we are in for a treat come Wednesday. In a special From the Couch we take an in-depth look at the players involved in Origin I.
PLAYERS have come and gone, as have sponsors, coaches and even our name; however, the one constant for Tigers fans since 1934 has been Leichhardt Oval (we don't speak of the Parramatta Stadium debacle). I personally refer to it as the ?heartland?, not just of the Tigers but also of Rugby League in this country.
JOINING the flow with hundreds of other league supporters coming to a bottleneck as security guards check people for unsafe objects in their luggage amongst the vegemite sandwiches, plastic bottles of weak lemon cordial and an extra jumper or two in case it gets a little chilly after the game on the way home because the worst thing that can happen, especially after a loss, is to feel miserable and cold with the knowledge you will cop abuse from people at work, the following Monday, from colleagues who hardly ever watch the game on television let alone live, as I am about to do but I need to weave my way through the snaky path set up with an almost frozen "metal pipe" like configuration, noticing almost subliminally that no one ever intentionally touches these dividers in the middle of winter lest they remain stuck to it till summer whereas I, safely traverse the labyrinth, pull out my wallet and part with a bit less than an hour?s worth of work to watch my beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs, no doubt, cop a thrashing from invaders of a modern, contemporary, fully News Ltd funded other Rugby League team who have enjoyed more success in the last five years than Souths have in the last fifteen years of mediocre misery which is akin to the last hot dog I ate, after the last game which left me with regret for both watching the last thrashing and eating what in effect is a warm much-of-a-nothing but; I will not be thwarted as I make my way to the nearest entrance gate where I allow a scanner to read the stub of my as yet, un-creased ticket of misery yet to come, coupled with, the ever so slight expectation of a miracle win which allow me some form of retribution but hello, there, before my very eyes I spot a kid handing out freely, the Rabbitoh News which I greedily snatch up to eagerly peruse the well written, incredibly positive, spin on Club happenings and news but what I really would like to read is my own contribution about The Burrow, located towards the back amongst the profile of the latest, very attractive, Cheergirl who gets paid to wear skimpy outfits and do a routine to a completely boring top-forty tune which is all magnified inadequately on the big screen which I cannot see as yet as not only am I still making my way to Bay 38 but I have just walked past a partial split in the stadium support where wheelchair bound fans settle in with their carers tucking in cosy blankets that remind me of better things I could be doing on a god forsakenly cold, wintry, Saturday night but those thoughts disintegrate as I promenade past the first mini beer outlet, to my left, which already looks like they are having trouble making the beer flow seamlessly into eagerly awaited plastic cups, ahead, two utterly bored looking shop keepers watching the traffic go right past their stall that is filled with over priced Souths merchandise where every Souths fan knows never to buy objects from there, as the money never makes it back to the club but nonetheless, Souths fans are truly educated thanks to the aforementioned Rabbitoh News paper wherein, by the time I actually reach Bay 38, hundreds of copies will have been ripped up to make confetti to be thrown each time Souths score a try where I have been informed that we have a twelve garbage bag backlog which will probably end up at the local pet shop come Round 26 but such is the faith and hope that smothers all those Souths fans that have come to the game fully expecting a win against all odds, against facing reality and that the only attraction these days are fleeting moments of lustful pleasure at twisting ones neck trying to catch the eye of a gorgeous young woman in very tight jeans and wearing the opposition colours much to my compounding dismay but perhaps, I can fantasise approaching after the game, for a consoling hug giving me an equally fleeting opportunity to garner what little sympathy I deserve as I approach the first steps of Bay 38 and pan the scene of the entire stadium before me wishing I had bought a beer first as I now must trudge back to the bar.
WEEK two of split Round 5 of the Bartercard Cup kicks off this evening at Massey Park, Papakura, where the Jetz take on the Wellington franchise. The Jetz are going along very well and should move up the table tonight, with the home crowd providing plenty of motivation.
NZRL Vice Chairman Selwyn Bennett has today confirmed the make up of the appointment panel that will consider applications and make recommendations to the NZRL Board of Directors.
THE Mighty North Sydney Bears found their winning formula once more on Saturday, with an emphatic win against South Sydney at Aussie Stadium. The Bears backline put it together in spectacular fashion. They played confidently, not afraid to move the ball around, backing each other up and finding space to move. They tackled well and in numbers winning 34 to 10.
Q: Why are you now introducing this Super League strategy
BRONCOS stars turn out at Chelsea for Oil Aid
Ahead of Sunday's clash with Salford London Broncos stars Mark McLinden, Luke Dorn and Thomas Leuluai will join coach Tony Rea in Thursday's massive Oil Aid 7-a-side tournament at Chelsea FC.
THE Rugby Football League have confirmed their intention to increase the size of Super League to 14 clubs.
WIGAN captain Kris Radlinski is set to make his return from a hamstring injury in Friday?s game against Huddersfield.
THE full details of a strategy for the future of the engage Super League has been unveiled today.
The RFL?s Executive Chairman Richard Lewis made a presentation to the media alongside RFL Chief Operatiing Officer Nigel Wood.
The main points of the presentation and the strategy are:
Super League is in its tenth season with the engage Super League competition currently enjoying great success on many fronts.
The League is supported by strong broadcast agreements with major partners Sky Sports and secondary rights holders BBC Sport.
Attendances are increasing, an exciting new partnership is in place with a new main sponsor Engage Mutual Assurance, new stadia have been developed with more planned and the Championship deciding Grand Final is a major date in the British sporting calendar.
This success provides a great platform on which to plan and build further progress.
The following are a result of engage Super League clubs resolving that they and the RFL can work collectively towards some agreed aspirations and overall objectives:
Super League to seek to expand to 14 clubs
Super League Membership criteria strengthened / Promotion method amended
Player workload / season calendar assessed
Positive emphasis placed on developing each club?s businesses via marketing and commercial growth
Ongoing RFL support for the currently successful partnerships with clubs which create the Junior Player Production and Coach Education Programmes
?Employed? Match Officials operating by 2007 - to enable better preparation and training by leading Match Officials
THIS Saturday (21st May) 2SER FM?s ?A View from the Hill? will be taking calls from listeners on whatever you would like to talk about in Rugby League.
Parramatta Eels 18 v Manly Sea Eagles 12
THIS year?s first State of Origin clash has a big impact upon proceedings at the weekend. With three teams having the bye and the rest left to piece together a side from what remains, round 11 looms as a tough task for tipsters.
MANLY coach Des Hasler has been rewarded with a new three-year contract following the Sea Eagles flying start to the 2005 NRL season. The new deal will see Hasler remain at Brookvale until the end of the 2008 season.