GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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OSSIE, OSSIE, OSSIE.....JOY, JOY, JOY
News that Paul Osborne is favoured to grab the vacant CEO position at Parramatta has been widely applauded by fans. The blue and gold army see the highly-respected Osborne as another positive step in the re-vamping of a proud club that has gone near a quarter of a century without tasting premiership success.
Staunch supporter Greg from Bilgola Plateau, says the likelihood of someone such as Osborne - who espouses everything that is good in human nature - replacing the out-going Denis Fitzgerald has brought him out of a depressed state. "I was going to ask for a release (as a supporter)," Greg says jokingly. "After enduring years of flawed performances by the club decision-makers we desperately needed regime change. And now that we're getting in the board room and on the field we can approach 2010 knowing we will be genuine premiership threat."
Greg says all Eels fans have applauded the signings of Justin Poore and Shane Shackleton. "These two are top-shelf who will greatly bolster our forward strength. If we can add a quality half/five-eighth and an outside back to our roster than there's no reason why we can't challenge for the title next year."
Osborne is believed to have played an integral role in getting Poore to Parramatta after the pair struck up a strong bond during a charity trip to the strife-torn African country of Rwanda. Eels icon Nathan Hindmarsh along with several other NRL stars accompanied Osborne and Poore to Rwanda aimed at bringing worldwide attention to the tragedy that was unfolding there.
Osborne, who refers to himself - in jest - as a two-try grand final hero (Canberra Raiders 1994), has built up a great rapport with the players in his role as a player manager accreditation officer. He is also a colourful sideline eye for ABC radio. He would relinquish both roles to take up the senior position at Parramatta.
As well as his array of skills and abilities, Osborne brings with him a huge supporter base if the shape of wife Sally and their nine children. You do the maths but if the Osborne children multiply at the same rate as their parents by the turn of the century the Parramatta Eels will have around 1000 extra fans emanating from the one source. Now I see why he's the "pea" for the position. There's tens of thousands to me made in merchandise alone. HAS UM....WELL MAGIC IN HIS BOOTS
What can say about Hazem El Masri other than he is one of the great citizens of this country? A true measure of this remarkable individual is that fans who inherently despise the Bulldogs with a passion find themselves putting those deep-seeded feelings aside to salute the game's greatest pointscorer.
To regard Hazem (I feel the urge to refer to the mighty Bulldog by his first name) as an ornament to the game, is correct but is still for me inadequate in describing the achievements of this magnificent human being.
In terms of rugby league, yes he's scored a stack of points and a heap of tries, but what about the tries he's saved? His innate ability to cut off dangerous attacks by collaring the centre has largely been overlooked. And when he finally hangs up his kicking tee what would his tally of points have been if Daryl Halligan hadn't been around...3000? Perhaps not that much but not a great deal less I'd imagine.
His amazing deeds haven't come about by magic, even though to "nail" goals from extreme angles with monotonous regularity the way Hazem has you couldn't just be a mere mortal. Bend it like Beckham is very good but even better for mine, is Hook it like Hazem. The world's best player Jonathan Thurston has taken the hint, so that's good enough to me.
I will probably be chided over this, but personally in my estimations Hazem is up there with Nelson Mandela as someone to aspire to and be inspired by. Hazem's modesty will dismiss such a comparison but the positive reinforcement that he can make to mainstream society in particular our youth, can be immense.
The Bulldogs club will be poorer for his absence from the field but they can now share him with the rest of us. Undoubtedly Hazem will make a wonderful ambassador for the game of rugby league. The NRL will have "rocks in its head" if they do not embrace him with the same fervour as his legion of fans.
THEY BLEAT, THEY CRY, THEY SQUEAL
Former Blues prop Peter "Too Tough" Tunks is somewhat of a talent when it comes to comedy. He is renowned for his quirky and clever comments whether it's at a public speaking engagement or on 2SM's Talkin Sport show, which has to be the most informative and entertaining rugby league program on radio or television.
It's terrific fare and a vehicle for talkback callers to vent their spleen without being ridiculed, belittled or cut-off. Everyone gets to speak their piece irrespective of how much it differs from that of the panel that is anchored by Graeme Hughes and includes Mark Geyer, Gavin Roberston and Brett Papworth with former topline referee Bill Harrigan having a weekly spot every Monday to explain the contentious rulings from that round of football.
Tunks takes great delight in "giving it" to Queenslanders, who he says the following about - "they cheat, they lie, they steal". His less than flattering comments take more meaning around Origin time but with the Maroons in the midst of a golden period they have plenty of ammunition to return fire at the former Bulldogs and Souths' hardman.
A passionate supporter of the Blues, Tunks is furious at the Maroons' domination on which he feels has been aided and abetted by errant selections, poor tactics and even poorer decisions by match officials. The big unit was livid over the no-try ruling by video referees Harrigan and Tim Mander when they adjudged Jarryd Hayne to have clipped the sideline with his boot in Game I.
But he hasn''t been alone in his incessant moaning over what was a crucial call in the context of the match, with all Blues supporters crying foul. It's any wonder we Queensland supporters in referring to New South Welsmen we do so by commencing with the following phrase - "they bleat, they cry, they squeal".
How do you like them apples, Mr Tunks?
A LOT TO QUERY OVER
The sudden termination of Lote Tuqiri's contract by the Australian Rugby Union has sent shockwaves throughout the NRL with clubs clamouring for his services should the powerhouse winger decide to return to rugby league.
Tuqiri was on massive money and no doubt his first priority will be to negotiate a substantial payout before even contemplating which NRL club to play for - if he returns to league at all. He could easily join the likes of Sonny Bill Williams, Mark Gasnier and Craig Gower and pick up copious amounts of cash for much less effort and exertion playing rugby in France. The euros on offer in French rugby, even second division, make it a very tempting option. Japan is another rugby nation that would be willing to pay somewhat with the profile of Tuqiri huge money. Quite possibly he could be teaming up with Bronco star Karmichael Hunt, who it seems is destined to sign with Japanese club Suntory.
Reasons for Tuqiri