Every now and then, in addition to my weekly tips, I will write about various topics of interest that relate to Rugby League. This week it is on the drug scandal at Cronulla. Following my tips, I will update you all on the 8-team dream team draft competition appropriately named ‘Beat the Boss’.
In my first couple of articles, I have used a bit of humour to somewhat lighten up my articles. This next piece will contain no such humour. I think it will be obvious why when you start reading it.
One thing my mother always told me was that ‘If you want to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk’. It’s a saying that I have carried with me. I have always strived to let my actions speak louder than my words, even though I can be quite talkative after a beer or two. However, it’s a trait that to me is becoming less and less important in society; especially in the corporate world, where the art of ‘selling yourself’ has become so crucial. You may be asking, ‘What on earth does this have to do with Rugby League?’ To answer this question, I am referring to the on-going ASADA investigation into drugs in sport. The reason is because after a month of very big talk, ASADA have yet to walk. Following the damning report, not one Australian sportsman or woman has been banned for taking performance enhancing drugs. Now I’m no idiot. I’m aware that this will almost certainly change as time goes by. It definitely doesn’t look good for Cronulla. I also support the cause that ASADA are fighting for, which is for sport to be a contest determined by natural ability and not by the substances which are used. My main issue with this whole saga is the manner in which it has been dealt with. The damage has been done by the constant speculation that is constantly being presented in the media. Yes, the media does have some responsibility for this too but the speculation wouldn’t have reached this level had ASADA not come out so strongly with their report. The reason I have an issue with this is because it has caused damage to so many people who don’t deserve it. As mentioned in the headline, this does get a bit personal for me as for those who don’t know, my older brother is a die-hard Cronulla supporter. Just like most younger brothers, I always wanted to be beat my brother in whatever competition we would compete in, but I always looked up to him. One trait that he had that always fascinated me growing up was his passionate support for his rugby league team, the Sharks. I was stunned at how my normally shy, mild-mannered brother could figuratively flip the switch and become this maniac just because the Sharks were playing. It wasn’t too long after that where I became the one who could indeed flip the switch. This time, it wasn’t for the Sharks but for the Wests Tigers. It was through my unwavering support for the Tigers that helped me find my identity in my adolescent years. We are both rugby league fans and damn proud of it! Bringing everything back to the present time, my brother is very distraught owing to the dark cloud that hangs over the Cronulla club. I can feel his pain as I know how much that club means to him. Now, I’m not one who likes to withhold anything, however I have to question the timing of the release of the report. Why release the report when it will take months to actually prove that the report is indeed factual? By that I am referring to the statement by ASADA that drug use is widespread and far-reaching in Australian sport. Sport is one of the key elements of Australian culture and it has a great impact on the morale of a large percentage of the Australian population. Couldn’t ASADA have found a better way to do this? Couldn’t they have found a way to limit the impact on the morale of the Australian people? Why talk the talk, when you can’t walk the walk. Anyway, you may agree or disagree with me. Frankly, I don’t care. This is my two cents worth.
Well, back to the fun (if you consider selecting teams that will win and providing the reasons for this as fun)! Last week my lock of the week got up but my upset of the week did not. So, for the season:
LOCK OF THE WEEK: 1/1
UPSET OF THE WEEK: 0/1
PARRAMATTA EELS V CANTERBURY BULLDOGS
Tip: Bulldogs. A week ago, this would have been an easy game to tip. However, following Canterbury’s disappointing performance and Parramatta’s big win, this game just got a little bit exciting. Luke Kelly is out for the Eels, with Joseph Paulo moving to five eight, Ryan to lock and debutant Kelepi Tanginoa added to bench. The Bulldogs are unchanged but Kasiano and Pritchard may be late inclusions. In my opinion, Parramatta had it way too easy against the woeful Warriors. They will not score tries that easily against the Bulldogs, who should be better than they were last week. I think Canterbury will be too strong in the forwards, but Parra do have the better bench. If Hayne and Sandow play like they did last week, the Eels could find themselves being 2 from 2. However, I don’t think so.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS V BRISBANE BRONCOS
Tip: Broncos. I give the Dragons a shot here, as they are a far better team at home than they are away from home. St George did show some signs of attacking prowess in the second half against Melbourne. The Broncos will be out to avenge their poor second half from last week, but showed plenty of promise in the first half. If they play well for the full 80 minutes, which I believe they will, then they should win. They are simply the better team across the park. There are no changes for either side this week. An interesting match-up to watch in this game is the battle of the five eights, Soward and Prince. Soward has not been at his best for a while and Prince had a mixed game last week. Whoever turns it around the most could decide the outcome of this game.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS V SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Tip: Roosters. I simply cannot tip the Warriors after last week’s abomination. The Roosters had Souths reeling early before penalties turned the momentum of the game. Vatuvei is out for the Warriors, with Bill Tupou to replace him. Also, Feleti Mateo moves to the bench and Steve Rapira replaces him in the starting line-up. For the Roosters, Sonny Bill Williams starts in the second row in his return to Eden Park, with Aubusson moving to the bench. Arona has not been named on the bench. Luke O’Donnell, Boyd Cordner and Dylan Napa are all named on an extended bench. This will be James Maloney’s first game against his former club.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS V MELBOURNE STORM
Tip: Storm. I don’t think the Cowboys were as impressive as some other people did. Sure, Johnathan Thrurston was outstanding but the whole team only struggled to beat a disappointing Canterbury. Melbourne weren’t great either, but I won’t tip against the defending premiers here. I expect both teams to be better and this game should be a really good one as a result. The Cowboys have named an unchanged line-up, while the Storm have again named Bryan Norrie to start at prop, even though he did not play last week. One thing to keep an eye on is the impact of the Cowboys’ bench. The Storm will have their hands full trying to handle Tariq Sims and Jason Taumalolo when they enter the game.
GOLD COAST TITANS V CANBERRA RAIDERS
Tip: Titans. The Raiders are another team I cannot tip, following last week’s dreadful performance. They have stood down Dugan and Ferguson for the second time in less than a year. Robinson replaces Dugan at fullback, while Wighton moves into the centres with Edrick Lee coming onto the wing. One positive for the Raiders is the potential return of Brett White, who has been named on an extended bench. On the other hand, the Titans have named an unchanged line up. As mentioned in my previous two articles, the Raiders have a very strong roster. If they play to their potential, they should win. However, this is a massive IF. As for the Titans, it was hard to get a gauge on their form, given the events of last week. I thought they played pretty well and they will be better for the run. Both benches look strong and whatever bench provides the greater impact may decide this one.
WESTS TIGERS V PENRITH PANTHERS
Tip: Panthers (UPSET OF THE WEEK). To say I was disappointed with the Tigers’ performance last week was an understatement. It was a long drive home after the game to say the least. Surely, they will be better this week. However, even if they are, I cannot tip them after last week. As for Penrith, they played well last week, even though they only beat the under-performing Raiders. If Monday night is anything to go by, the Panthers’ forward pack will be too much for the Tigers to handle. The Tigers do have an advantage in the key positions (especially five eight and hooker), but that will amount for nothing if the Tigers forward pack is again monstered. Brag Tighe comes in for Daniela for the Panthers and Eddy Pettybourne joins an extended bench for the Tigers.
MANLY SEA EAGLES V NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Tip: Manly. This has all the makings of a great game. Manly showed great patience and resolve to come back and beat Brisbane. Halves Foran and Cherry-Evans were stand outs. Newcastle was outstanding last week, in their flogging of the Tigers. Darius Boyd showed the form that saw him win the Dally M and Clive Churchill medals in 2010. I think this game will be very close and the main difference will be the venue. Manly are very tough to beat at Brookie. The key for Manly will be if they can hold their own in the forwards. The Knights have a great forward pack and if they get on top, they should win. Both sides have named unchanged line-ups, although Mullen remains in some doubt after picking up an injury last week.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS V CRONULLA SHARKS
Tip: Souths (LOCK OF THE WEEK). I know it’s unfair to take advantage of Cronulla’s situation, especially after what I have written above. However, I cannot see the Sharks winning this one. The past couple of weeks would have been so draining on the players and now they are up against one of the NRL’s powerhouses. Even if the Sharks were not currently under investigation by ASADA, their attack did not look overly threatening. As for Souths, they were very impressive. It will have to take something special to convince me to tip against them. For Souths, Bryson Goodwin replaces Beau Champion in the centres and Jeff Lima moves to the front row following Sam Burgess’ one week suspension. Dave Tyrrell, Jason Clark and Justin Hunt all join an extended bench. Cronulla have named an unchanged line-up, even though it is in doubt given the ongoing investigations.
‘BEAT THE BOSS’
As the competition ladder stands after the first round of the NRL Dream Team Draft competition, no one can yet claim to beat the Boss. Yes, my Bandits are on top of the ladder following a 513-370 victory over Marcus’ Pit Dogs. Currently in second are Pearce’s Pride, who are guided by perennial fantasy guru Roman. They defeated Joe’s Crackalackers 498-376, who have potential to be a force in the competition if the coach wasn’t so lazy. In third are Clint’s R.Lewis+Denzel’s, who defeated Tim’s Buzzing Hornets 440-402. The game of round 1 featured Marky Marc’s Funky Bunch against Tavish’s P7Panthers, which ended up 524-495. The round 2 fixtures are:
- Pearce’s Pride V P7Panthers
- Harkonnen Pit Dogs V The Crackalackers
- R.Lewis+Denzel’s V The Funky Bunch
- Buzzing Hornets V Boggabri Bandits