What's new
The Front Row Forums

Register a free account today to become a member of the world's largest Rugby League discussion forum! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

2013 Preliminary Final :: Titans v Ninjas



Game Thread:
* This is a game thread only. Only game posts can be made here - team lists, substitutions, and articles.
* Any other posts may result in loss of points and is at the discretion of the referee.
* Only original articles, not used in previous games, will be marked by referees.

Naming Teams:
* 5 -V- 5 (+ 3 reseves for home side; +2 for away)
* No 'TBA' or changing players named
* Captains must stick with original teams named

Rules: http://www.forumsevens.com.au/rules.php
Official Word Counter: http://www.forumsevens.com.au/wordcount.php

Kick Off: Sunday 8th of September 2013 (6:00pm AEST)
Full Time: Monday 23rd of September 2013 (9:00pm AEST)
Referee: Non Terminator
Venue: Skilled Park



And so we are down to the pointy end of the year. TTL wakes up, winds his watch, checks that bloody work counter is working, pulls on his boots and charges on to the....wait...strangely quiet....no opposition....no team mates...bloody hell!....there's no-one here...... SO IN A NEW WORLD RECORD TTL is EARLY!! Gives huge high-five to self and lodges these 735 words below the line.


In Spring a young man’s fancy…

Indeed in springtime a young man’s fancy turns to women, beer, women, footy, cars and women. Not vastly different I grant from other seasons, just a bit more so, and frankly even old bastards find themselves ‘full of the joys’. Apart from warm sunshine, BBQs, stubbies and thongs, Spring heralds in ‘finals season’, the culmination of months of toil, skill, hope and planning. And it’s not just the players I’m thinking of. All four are necessary for you and me to quarantine enough time for dedicated match watching across the finals panoply.

Finals season wraps all the emotions of league into one enormous surge, and then amplifies them. Pain becomes agony, anticipation morphs to hope, nervousness erupts as terror, concern shivers into angst and joy triumphs as elation. We dare not miss a minute because we know that each play is irreplaceable and potentially bears the mother lode of history.

Witness last round of the competition proper, a match close to home. Even the casual observer, with the hardest of hearts, must shed a tear at the Titan’s exit despite their valiant efforts. The (Queensland) Storm has been the most consistently high performing franchise of recent years and the Titan spirit almost got them home. Cronk’s golden point served to highlight how winners keep finding ways to win, and to articulate the emotional journey of the finals.

So now I need to get behind another team for the trip to the grand final. It’s a toss-up between the Cowboys and the Rabbitohs. I hear your sharp intake of breath! Coming from the Sunshine State, my choice of the Cowboys makes complete sense and is culturally aligned with my articles this year. But Souths? What’s this? Before making a small, shame-faced admission regarding the bunnies, let me dwell for a moment on North Queensland.

The Cowboys have just one appearance in a grand final to their tally, in 2005 when they came off second. Their run into this year’s final series, with six straight wins, is quite promising. Despite being in the bottom half of the finals clique, the Cowboys have momentum on their side, talent and experience in their ranks, and God (Himself a Queenslander) on their side. And we know that teams play and win for causes higher than trophies and money. The Cowboys have something extra to play for. Long-time stalwart, exemplary club-man, Matty Bowen is packing his bag for the last time this month; maybe to retire to a new life or perhaps for a year’s payoff in the UK league. Either way, as a man of this ilk in his valedictory season, his teammates may find that extra spark, the half-yard of pace and burst of creativity to ensure that his send-off coincides with their first-ever Provan-Summons trophy. So, I’m excited for the Cowboy’s prospects and my head turns in their direction.

But there is a hint of romance in the air and this is where the springtime analogy leads. Souths, once the most feared team in the NSW competition, the inaugural premiers from 1908, and long time pin-ups of Mrs TTL, have for too long been the ‘Easybeats’ of the NRL. Remember the ignominy they suffered through being broke and then shown the door for 2000 and 2001? But there was a spark in Redfern (and some handy $ from South Juniors!) that kept the dream alive long enough for two romantic figures from the screen and Pitt St to ride into town on their chargers and provide the capital and PR to start landing sorely needed talent. In the last 11 years Souths have taken home three wooden spoons, but balanced these with three wild, exhilarating finals appearances. Can they go two steps beyond their 3rd in 2012 and through winning in 2013 validate the hope and hard work of their grass roots? My heart and matrimonial self-interest says “C’on the Rabbitohs!” and begs me to be a proud romantic.

This is my quandary. I could go with my head and stay loyal to my northern heritage, hoping and praying for the Cowboy’s first premiership. Or should I let my heart and springtime fever guide my barracking, and be a bunny?

Nah. Once a Queenslander, always a Queenslander. GO THE COWBOYS!!.

I will have to rely on my good looks, charm, flowers and poetry to bail me out with Mrs TTL. Wish me luck……


First Grade
Titans team

1. Amadean
2. mad unit
3. Misanthrope
4. Tittoolate
5. Titanic

6. bgdc
7. lockyno1


The Chuck Norris Texas Death Ninjas line up this way:

Russell Crowe's Band
jamesgould (c)



First Grade
Titanic for the Titans (750 OWC)
**Warning** Adult Content, only to be read by people over the age of 18 or thereabouts.



Gorilla Warfare

I don’t like Mondays, I love them. I love them a lot… a real lot. I love them all… every damned one of them but I especially love the mad ones. Huge vainglorious, outrageously drunken ones with puerile antics, hermaphrodite-ish fancy dress and me mates.

Most of all it’s the mates that make them what they are. You know what I mean… celebrating a long hard season… rewarded by the club for giving it everything even though we didn’t quite make the finals. I don’t think the coach ever found out about the night me and Hamma broke curfew down at the Royal. What the frig? We would've lost by twenty anyway... nobody noticed.

This is what I call the business end of the season: it’s the season’s end and it’s time for some serious business. Decisions, decisions… I just can’t decide what to wear. I tried slipping into the g-string, a plaited pink number, left over by one of Snorky’s scrubbers a few months ago. Bloody hilarious, she searched for ages and ended-up with cheek rash while I had it stuck down the front of my dacks. Too tight though… I’ve put on a bit since I started skipping those gym sessions.

Hey, don’t look at me like that. The gymbo said that groin strains recuperate slowly and I’m sure I read somewhere that lattes are good for you… and Philly cheese bagels. Thinking of groin strain, I nearly strained it again trying to pork that sheila from Ranga’s old school. Crikey, what I wouldn’t give to see if she was a “natural” blond. You know what they say; ‘on the hole gentlemen prefer blonds’. That’s a laugh... me, a gentleman... not likely.

Aagh, I’m wasting time. Bugger it, the Dorothy the Dinosaur costume will do, at least it won’t be as hot as the gorilla suit I wore last year… now where do I stick the tail while I’m driving? I'll be cool as long as Bluey and Nutz don't light me up like a candle... I'm not a dwarf.

Last year's will be hard to beat. There were freakin' speeches, a quality round of We Shall Not Be Moved followed by lots of rounds of rounds, if you know what I mean? Talk about suck more p1ss… you bewdy. Then the enter-bloody-tainment… soggy Sao. Jaysus H Ker-ryst, you should have seen Duges flogging himself… worse than Mono’s soft-mouthed lab two years ago or was it three? Whatever, it certainly rained on his parade... nearly tore the flange off it.

Have to park around the back so the paparazzi don’t see us. I'll sneak in beside Dildo’s Jeep… lucky prick to get that sponsor, all I could jag was Carefree… a good laugh and some extra coin anyway. There they are over by the trainers shed. Stuff me roan, Froggy looks gone already and what about Tool, is he choking a darkie in that esky? Surely not on the prawns!

Wow! Woooow, that looks like Bull dressed up with a wig? Bloody hell it’s Lana the Banana, the girl of my dreams. Some bastard told me she lost her virginity to a bottle of port on a church altar. Wouldn’t surprise me. Sarge told me she’s got the mouth power of an industrial vacuum cleaner.

Time flies when you’re on the grog. Where did the day go? Where did the pommie go? “Stop slapping me, ya turd.” “You crashed out and missed all the fun” some moron shouts at me. “Smithy was playing blind nun in a wheelchair on a zebra crossing, until Dags crash tackled him and busted his nut-sack on the handle… you should have seen it. You wouldn’t believe it, he just got out of the carpark when the wallopers nabbed him. Funniest thing ever: Smithy screaming, Dags screaming, the pigs screaming and the newspapers all falling over themselves trying to get a picture of his missus gallantly holding his tackle together." Ouch, makes the old eyes water.

Oh no, no, no, no, no! The bloody season’s best bloody Monday's over. What can I do now? Should I head over to Bali and contemplate my navel with Fergo while I work out how to spend the 50k that the club will pay me for this week? Nah, I'd better check out Mum and see if my latest court papers have been served yet... no wait, maybe I can slip into the next Sea-Eagles board meeting and catch Dazza calling Zorba an obese vagina.
Last edited:


Amadean for the Titans with 714 below the bar.



Indisputable evidence that Newcastle will win this year’s Grand Final.

In which Your Humble Author presents a series of connected Anecdotes. These together may enable you, our Generous and Insightful Reader, to form the last Argument for the Knights Victorious

On infringements:

“The penalty count was the difference at the end of the night, we were pretty dominate in the first half until they started getting the penalties and it got them back in to the game.” (Wayne Bennett, 1/6/2013).

...but yet....

“If you’re having penalty problems, I feel bad for you son. Newie got 99 problems, but discipline ain’t one” - Jay-Z (citation needed).


“In typical Bennett fashion, the Knights make minimal errors. They average 9.3 mistakes per game, the least of any of the remaining six teams.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 21/9/2013)

On potential monetary incentives:

“Former billionaire Nathan Tinkler has been omitted from the latest edition of the BRW Young Rich List after his estimated net wealth fell below the $18 million cut-off set for 2013.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 18/9/2013)

“Nathan Tinkler as a hard-running rugby league player, those who helped him get to the top and those he burnt along the way. Long delivers an unvarnished portrait of a man with an apparently insatiable appetite for risk. Whether he's backing horses or buying coal leases, Tinkler is prepared to roll the dice.” (ABC Four Corners, 29/7/2013)

Perhaps NSWTAB is preparing to accept the largest bet from the largest owner in League?

On momentum:


On possibly the best back three in the competition:

"In all my years in rugby league I've never seen a better athlete than this bloke." (Andrew Johns on 24/10/2008 regarding Akila Uate.) The bloodstream concentration of 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine (MDMA) of Andrew Johns at this point are unknown.

James McManus 16 – Gold Coast Titans 16 (30/6/2013)

“Gasnier was closed down by Queensland winger Darius Boyd in the Maroons' game one win, Boyd doing a brilliant job of reading the every move of his St George Illawarra teammate.” (AAP, 13/6/2011)

Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis have played 15 matches together for Queensland. In those matches they scored 22 tries.

On SuperCoach Sir Smiles-a-lot:

“If the Dragons win this week, Bennett will become the first Dragons coach in 31 years to guide the club to a premiership, succeeding where the likes of Roy Masters, Ted Glossop, Craig Young, Brian Smith, David Waite, Andrew Farrar and Nathan Brown have failed.” (MakingTheNut.com, 30/9/2010)

“She captured a photo of Wayne Bennett smiling, was told she was stylish by governor-general designate Quentin Bryce and even managed to get veterans affairs minister Alan Griffin doing the Time Warp on the dance floor.” (Sunshine Coast Daily, 21/7/2008 regarding RSL Girl in a Million district finalist Cassandra Heilbronn).

Why so serious?

“St George Illawarra NRL coach Wayne Bennett says he and Wendell Sailor are like chalk and cheese” (Sydney Morning Herald, 12/11/2009)

That is a good thing.

On fanatic supporters:

“Knights fans are among the most rabid in the NRL” (The Australian, 14/6/2010)

“God you lot are ugly” (Me, just before being punched, May 2005)

“Supporting the Knights is a spoonful of sugar served with a handful of dirt.” (The Roar, 13/2/2013)

“Newcastle Knights fans have wasted no time in securing tickets and a ride to watch the preliminary final clash with the Roosters at Allianz stadium in Sydney on Saturday. Fans lined up at Sid Fogg’s offices at Jesmond from 7am yesterday morning, with 10 busloads (about 500 people) already booked by 10am” (Newcastle Herald, 22/9/2013)

In Summary:

The Newcastle Knights are not playing particularly pretty football this year. They do not have a run-on team filled with particularly pretty superstar players. (Cough, Cherry-Evans, cough.) In fact, the Knights feature a range of notably ugly players at the end of their careers. Willie Mason being a case-in-point.

But the Knights are disciplined.

The Knights have the opportunity to earn financial gratitude of a (still very) wealthy owner.

The Knights have momentum, a superb back 3 and lunatic mouth-punching supporters.

The Knights also have Wayne ‘Bloody hell but the man knows how to train successful Rugby League teams’ Bennett.

And with that final point ends our small Drama. I thank you, Gentle Reader, and pray that these little Anecdotes have been most Informative and Persuasive.


Staff member
Misanthrope aims to emulate the Newcastle heroics as he uses his head to batter the opposition into submission. He plays for the Titans.

Dear Football Gods

The candles have been lit. The invocations have been completed. The life size cardboard cut-out of Andrew Ettingshausen has been symbolically burned over a fire fueled by back issues of Big League.

I would have sacrificed a virgin but LU members with 30,000+ post counts are surprisingly difficult to lure out of their mother’s basements.

Yes, of course I tried putting on a girlish voice and telling them how sexy I thought their plan for something called ‘Top Ball’ was.

In place of this virginal offering, I offer this stiff sock. No, that’s not just any jizz that has hardened to a near adamantium like shell. That’s the jizz I’ve expelled over years of climaxing to Cronulla’s repeated failures. And yes, Football Gods, I thank you every day for the blessing that is Cronulla’s existence. Thou art truly the greatest of trolls.

I can’t believe people actually support them either. Maybe they’re trying to be ironic?

No, you’re right. I don’t think people from the Shire would know how to spell ‘irony’ either. They’d probably just throw rocks at it and tell it to go back to where it came from.

I don’t know. France, maybe?

We’re getting off track here, Football Gods. I know you are called upon for your blessing at every Mad Monday and will be busy today.

What’s that? Yes, I’m sure it’s quite possible Billy Slater will be ‘inside Cooper Cronk’ again today. No, no – I get it. I see what you did there.

His tears were like champagne to me too.

Yes, I did see that episode of South Park. You don’t need –

Ha ha. That’s a good Cartman impression. You’re both wise and hilarious, Football Gods.

Let’s get down to business. I have lit the candles and invoked the invocations. I have made you offerings of Andrew Ettingshausen effigies and the jizz-stained sock. I hereby begin the ritual of prayer and request, and ask that you hear my humble pleas.

I acknowledge that you have worked a minor miracle in turning Newcastle around in the last four weeks. I know many would attribute this change of attitude to Wayne Bennett or Jeremy Smith or even Danny Buderus, but I see it for the miracle it is. You’ve turned an inconsistent, messy side into something resembling our 1997 heroics.

That was a good year, yes. I know the Broncos’ premiership doesn’t really count, but it’s nice of you to let them have that asterisk next to it. Did you really have to let them win so many Origins in a row though?

Oh, brain damage? All of them? I mean, I had my suspicions… Well, yes, I guess I can see why you let them have State of Origin. That would explain the conspiracy talk then.

Anyway, Football Gods, I appreciate all you have done but I have some more requests. I haven’t asked for anything in several years because I’ve been living in China.


No, Football Gods, they don’t believe in rugby league here. I don’t know why not. I don’t think it has anything to do with their small penises.

No. They don’t pronounce it ‘Clonurra’.

You know, you’re starting to sound like a Cronulla fan now, Football Gods. You’re being racist.

I’m sorry too. I just lost my temper.

So, back to my humble request; I ask that you guide and watch over the Newcastle Knights for the next two weeks. I beg that you see them past the cheating Roosters and whichever fickle Sydney club they meet in the grand final.

Yes, Russell Crowe was very good in Gladiator.

I ask that you let Danny Buderus go out on the high note his storied career deserves. I ask that you inflict terrible suffering and a potential career ending injury on Mitchell Pearce. I know Queensland have it rough, but giving NSW Mitchell Pearce was a bit of extreme; I’m sure you’d agree.

I ask that Jarrod Mullen kicks a treble of 40-20s and that our backline monsters our opponents as it has been. I ask that Alex McKinnon breaks another opponent’s head with his unbreakable dome and that Jeremy Smith remain the baddest mother-f**ker on Football God’s green earth.

I ask that our NSW Cup boys also taste premiership triumph. Screw the Bears. Their eleven fans will be okay.

And I pray you delay the game until I land. I have a flight on Grand Final day.


P.S. Andrew Johns return out of the question?

WORD COUNT: 750 (including title)
Last edited:


bgdc for the Titans ... last, least and licentious (750 officially yours between the dashes)


Proper Gander

It was only a matter of time before the truth was revealed. A little like the oldie but goodie "what has four legs and one arm - a bull terrier in a play ground" all mothers nightmares have now become reality. It has been exposed that those lovely little “good triumphs over evil” fairy tales that we tell to our children are in fact something much darker.

This happily married and reasonably well-balanced mother has stumbled on rugby league’s secret strategy in its war to net ever-younger recruits to the game. Never mind the kick & giggle mob or even the clique over at soccer, rugby league has taken blanket brainwashing to an entirely new level.

Entrenched in every fairy tale is a hidden piece of “Grimm” propaganda. The public must perceive this intellectual suppression for what it is - a form of implantation and socialist inculcation. Confused? You should be, this is a very well disguised subterfuge.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

A beautiful princess (Darius Boyd) lives with her evil mother (Wayne Bennett). Snow White hangs out with a bunch of people with dramatically lesser stature (anybody else she plays with) and protects them from all sorts of gangling forest creatures who repeatedly try and set fire to them.


Even those with great natural abilities need a little magic to stand out and really achieve their potential. Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (Steve Dank) waves some fairy dust over one of the world’s most lovable perennial basket-cases (Cronulla). The jealous sisters (Illawarra and St. George) will stop at nothing to crush Cinder’s ambition while the glass slipper, of course, is a multi-million dollar-earning premiership.

Beauty and the Beast

Unattractive franchises are not necessarily forever doomed (Titans and Parramatta). If they are really, really really nice (offer another huge overs contract) they can woo another highly-coveted marquee player (Idris, Taylor, Sandow, Hopoate) and live happily ever after (have a winning season).


Nothing more than a tale of NRL teams cutting veteran players under contract (Crocker, Asotasi, Bowen): even if someone played a major role in your success, you can screw them out of a deal when you no longer need them by utilizing a loophole. In the end, Rumplestiltskin’s body is left broken and he has none of the gold.

Robin Hood

The famed tale of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor touches on the themes of the luxury tax, salary caps, revenue sharing and losing teams getting more favoured assistance or perks. From their wooded eerie at the Sherwood Forest-like Moore Park, the ARLC provides hand outs to the needy á la Russell Crowe.

Hansel and Gretel

Adults leave kids to die in the woods. Another adult attempts to eat the children’s flesh. The story is a clear metaphor for the Bronco’s treatment of its athletes. A history littered with the train wrecks of forgotten stars, some of which have managed to rise phoenix-like from the ashes (Costigan, Gagai). Of course if you live in a house made of gingerbread then eventually greed will set in and eventually your domicile will be eaten-up from the inside.

The Frog Prince

Ugly, disgusting, slimy athletes get hot women, too. One has to wonder at the naivety of young women, many of who cannot see past a good behind, multiple tattoos and a healthy bank account to understand what type of man it is who hangs out with other men 99% of the time practicing how to bash other men. You can kiss them until your lips are cracked as red raw as the Simpson Desert but the very best they can hope for is a cane toad.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

If sports media people just yell nonsense all the time, eventually no one will listen even if they have a truly strong sports take to share (Wilson, Rothfield, Weidler). Whether it be in response to rule changes, player behavior, club management or refereeing errors the combined rugby league media ride out like Prince Valiant, silver ipads glinting in the afternoon sun, hell-bent on bringing somebody to justice. Yet, just like the little boy when it comes to the big story there will nobody left to listen or come to the rescue because they will all be out doing something else less tedious.

All tales are rooted in reality. Before they kill the goose that lays the golden egg, I wish rugby league would wake up, stop the fantasies so we can all live happily ever after.

Last edited:


For the Ninjas.


Patrick lowered himself slowly down into his couch, the way only an older gentleman can. Still leaning forward, while somehow moving backwards. He wore a beige cardigan, a white shirt, and grey trousers. His shock of white hair was thinning slightly, but still a long way from disappearing completely.

He glanced at his phone on the side table. “Oh, look love, a message from Grant.”

He struggled with the phone to open the message, then realising he couldn’t make out a word, looked around for his glasses. “I don’t know, these new style phones. It’s great to stay in touch, but you can’t read them half the time!” he chuckled. “Ahh, here we go.”

He put on his spectacles and read the message out. “Hope you’ve got the game on. Great atmosphere here, looking forward to a Souths win.” He put the phone down. “Ahh, that’s nice. Such a shame we couldn’t make it, but with these knees these days, I’d have just held you all up. Besides, it’s a better view on tv.”

He looked over at his wife and smiled. She grinned back.

“Right, let’s get this on then!” Patrick grabbed the remote and carefully set the television onto the correct channel. The players were lining up for the National Anthem. He reached over onto the table again, retrieving his myrtle and red scarf, then wrapping it slowly around his neck. “Let’s go boys! Ha ha!” he grinned, as the referee blew the whistle.


Patrick was a young man in 1951, and as he raced through Moore Park to make it to the Sports Ground on time, his nimble frame was easily able to weave its way through the passer-bys. He grasped his ticket tightly.

His hair swept to one side, and his tweed suit almost following behind his lean physique, Patrick did cut a dashing figure.

He took his seat on the embankment, just as the National Anthem was finishing. He pulled his scarf tightly around his neck, and yelled out “Come on South Sydney!” as kick off was blown.

“Do you mind?” came a voice from next to him.

Patrick turned to his right to see who said this. He saw the most stunning girl he had ever laid eyes upon. “You nearly deafened me, that was right in my ear!” she continued.

“Oh, I’m ... I’m so sorry. Just got a bit carried away. I’ve been waiting for this game for weeks, you see, ever since we lost to St George.” he explained.

“That’s alright, just be more careful in future.” she grinned at him, one of the most beautiful smiles Patrick had ever had the good fortune to witness.

“I’m Patrick by the way, very happy to make your acquaintance.”

“Well, hello Patrick, nice to meet you.” she smiled back. “So I suppose you don’t give Manly much chance, especially with O’Connell out?”

“Jeepers, you know your stuff!” Patrick replied enthusiastically. “South Sydney by all the points in the world.”

“I think so too.” she replied happily back.


Patrick leaned back, as the final whistle was blown. “We did it! We did it!” he exclaimed. “I can’t believe it! Grant must be having the time of his life in there!”

The smile on his face reached from ear to ear. “Ahh, it’s been such a long wait, but worth it. I was thinking throughout the game – do you remember 1951, darling?” He looked over at his wife.

“I couldn’t take my eyes off you, as soon as I sat down. You started talking to me – something about how good my scarf looked, I think. I couldn’t believe my luck! I told you all about my job at the factory. Well, I’d only been out of school a year or two, it was all still so new and exciting to me.

“I inched closer as the game went on, heh. By the time John Graves crossed for his fourth try, I had worked up the courage to ask you to join me for a celebratory toast! You said no, you had to get home, but agreed to have lunch the next Saturday.”

“I don’t think that day could have gone any better.”

He looked at the photo of his wife. His face sunk and his eyes reddened.

“Why couldn’t you just stay for a couple more months?”

Patrick felt a tear roll down his cheek and fall onto his hand. He looked up towards the heavens. “I love you darling, this one was for you.”

750 words.
Built like a tank yet hard to hit, RCB waxes poetic for the Ninjas

750 words between the *****


The Never Ending Ride into the Setting Sun

For a second I thought we had done it.

The Steeden sat on the ground for what seemed an eternity. Time was at a standstill. Suddenly a heroic figure in blue grasped the ball and ran it himself. He charged towards the posts like a rampaging bull with power and speed, taking three would-be defenders over the try line.

Paul Gallen had scored next to the posts and was going to tie the game with under ten minutes left, provided super-boot Flash Gordon converted a sitter.

The captain’s knock. This was the try that would swing the game Cronulla’s way, a brutal display of power from the NSW captain.

I felt it for a fleeting second. Cronulla were going to beat Manly (that rarely happens), in a semi- final (that never happens), and play South Sydney for a chance to make the big one.

Snap back to reality, oh, there goes gravity……

This is the Sharkies after all.

The hero of the day last week, a man with years of experience and over 280 games of first grade, has infringed in the play the ball.

This isn’t even marginal. This was an epic fail for the ages.

One week Harvey Dent , the other Two-Face. It’s a penalty. Manly have possession. Utter deflation and devastation. Sharks fans sink to the back of their seats. They know it is done.

I for one am just glad it was John Morris. A veteran who had played well all year, earned a new contract, and who saved us last week with a balls out desperation play that knocked a faster, younger man over the sideline. Had that been perennial scapegoat Ben Pomeroy getting penalised in possession, certain Sharks forums may have crashed the entire internet. So every cloud has a silver lining.

From nervous tension, to jubilation, to utter hopelessness - all within a minute. This season was a ride like no other.

Expectations were at their highest in years in the preseason, with new signings and the succesful property development application. Sharks fans could finally just concentrate on the game rather than all the off field stuff.

Then rock bottom.

I nearly cried.

14 players to be stood down? Coach stood down? Staff sacked? Season over already? What the hell is going on here?

The season rose from the fire again as Cronulla somehow lifted to win in round one, despite all the controversy and disruption.

Round three and the season is looking great. Cronulla crushed the Warriors, after a narrow loss to juggernaut South Sydney the week before. Shane Flanagan was re-instated and Sam Tagatese dummied to score a long range try to cap off a glorious Sunday afternoon in the Shire. A happy drive home no doubt.

Then, spiral.

The Sharks lose to St George, which always hurts, backed up by a loss to the dismal Parramatta Eels. A once promising season looks in trouble.

The low point came when Chairman Damian Irvine, a good man who loves Cronulla Sutherland, fell on his sword at the height of the ASADA media frenzy. He may not have been the right man for the job, but he gave his best in some of the most trying times the club has seen.

The club surged again with wins over Newcastle and South Sydney, winning twice against Wests Tigers, and a gutsy round 24 performance to beat the Sydney Roosters.

Andrew Fifita scoring with 30 seconds left to beat St George at WIN was glorious, if not an indication that this team was desperate and never out of the fight.

Up and down, twist and turn, loop the loop and then backward. By the seat of their pants the Cronulla Sharks made somehow it to round 26 with a winning record and won a semi-final match - albeit with a little help and an extra tackle.

However unlike all other clubs, our ride does not end after Sunday October 6th.

No one associated with this organisation can step off and get their valuables yet.

This offseason will be examined and analysed like no other. The ASADA investigation and findings will dictate what the next few years of the ride will be like.

As a fan I have endured ride but understand that this is what I have signed up for. As fans we have one job, support the team through the good and bad. I for one will be staying on this ride for a while to come yet.



Eozsmiles for the Ninja's.
749 OWC

Where There's Muck, There's Brass

The average Rugby League fan has a rather contemptuous view of player managers. Something of a cross between a used car salesman and a vulture. By gouging every dollar for one player, they can split up a playing group. By prolonging contract negotiations they take attention away from the on-field action. They are complicit to players breaking contracts. These details are often leaked to the media, clearly showing their motives. Fans and clubs are never the top priority.

This is in contrast to how players see their minders. They are trusted with gaining a player the best contract, managing his financial affairs, and even overseeing his personal life. Although rarely seen or heard, they have a far reaching influence and a bearing on decisions made by players, clubs, and even the NRL itself. This clout, coupled with the fact they don't work for the NRL, creates problems both on and off the field.

Agents are employed by players. They are paid to care for a players best interests. Essentially, this means to get the best contract possible for a player, giving him the most money and security available. Players in our game have a particularly short career span. It is understandable that they want to do the best they can financially in that time. It is this obligation to the player instead of the game that is problematic.

Player agents were firmly placed as the "middlemen" in the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal. This season, approximately $80 million will be paid in player wages across the 16 clubs. With the agents receiving in the vicinity of 5-10%, their cut is significant. Competition for every dollar, between both players and agents, is fierce. The salary cap ensures that the battle between clubs for talent and between players for money is unending. The lure for clubs, players, and agents to flaunt the rules is huge.

The enticement to cheat on Melbourne's behalf, combined with the agents desire to orchestrate the richest deal for their client, led to the integrity of the game being tarnished. When negotiating a contract extension for Storm player Greg Inglis, neither of the men responsible for making the deal, manager Allan Gainey and club CEO Brian Waldron, blinked when the star requested a boat for his dad. They just made it happen. Actions such as these led to the Storm being stripped of their success from 2006-2009, Waldron being banished from the game, and three player agents being suspended. Gainey received an official caution from the Player Agent Accreditation Committee, while the game received a blow to it's credibility.

The relationship between the player and their agent stretches further than just signing contracts. They can play a large role in a players personal life and even become friends. This is not always a positive thing. Most Rugby League players are young men and many are removed from the guidance of their family structure. This leads to the agent becoming a major part of a footballer's support network. But the role of the agent is not to provide leadership. As an employee, it is to facilitate the wishes of their client. This can mean many things, given that tastes and temptations vary. And since the agents employment is contingent on the players happiness, it is in his best interest to expedite these demands.

We've seen many instances where agents have been close to controversy. In 2005, Manly player Anthony Watmough was involved in an altercation with his ex-partner which led to police involvement. At the time, Watmough and a team mate were "entertaining" some young women at the home of their manager, George Mimis. Player agent Sam Ayoub was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2010 match fixing case that saw his client, Ryan Tandy, face criminal charges and be expelled from the game. Gavin Orr was refused agent accreditation after an incident in 2004 where it is alleged he forged the signature of one of his clients, Fui Fui Moi Moi.

While these events vary in legality and decency, the common denominator is the often less than scrupulous involvement of a player agent. At the least, we see agents aiding players and clubs in what may be poor choices. At worst, they've helped destroy whole seasons. And it's the fundamental difference in goals between the game and the agents which causes angst for fans. It's a conundrum always faced when one person gets paid through the talents and love of others.


First Grade
Frank_Grimes for the Ninjas

747 words OWC incl title.


The Man, the Motivator.

As the NRL finals series reaches its penultimate round, and 4 teams face the prospect of either starting their vacations early, or reaching the big game, one man stares down the barrel of an extraordinary feat. And he does it with a rare and barely visible smirk on his face.

When Wayne Bennett started coaching rugby league the most common dilemma facing a player was how they were going to explain the twisted ankle to the site foreman on Monday. To say they were simpler times is an understatement. Today players manage high salaries, social media, sponsor engagements and responsibilities, and an ever-growing ego fed by fame, fortune and an over-inflated sense of entitlement. But one thing remains unchanged – Bennett’s ability to lead and motivate his players. Bennett’s upbringing has often been credited for his unique approach to football. He grew up with an abusive and alcoholic father who walked out on the family when Wayne was only 11. Bennett himself has attributed this to his tee-totalling lifestyle and hard nosed work ethic. But what isn’t as apparent, is his absolute devotion to the young men under his charge. Perhaps it stems from having to become the man of the house at such an early age, but Bennett takes a genuine interest in the welfare of each of his players. They respect him, but they also want to play for him. For many years this relationship was dismissed by most as a culture exclusive to the Brisbane Broncos environment, but as he moves to different teams, the stories and anecdotes from players all carry the same line. These players all look to him as a second (sometimes only) father. To hell with those who don’t believe in his methods, he only cares about his players.

What’s even more astounding is that quite a few of his detractors have now become some of his most staunch supporters. When Bennett coached the Broncos, there weren’t many more hated characters from QLD. To those who despised him he personified all that was evil and corrupt in rugby league, as he steered the much reviled team to premiership successes. He snubbed his nose at media commitments, often starting press conferences early, or skipping them altogether. He took stands that were unpopular, and at times, downright baffling. From within, the players all testified that he was a vastly different man to them. This of course was soundly dismissed by his critics as players being naturally protective of their coach. But again, as he moved to different clubs the testimonies came rolling in. The man is spoken of so fondly, by people who once vilified him. The plaudits keep coming. And so it might appear, will the premierships. Bennett is closing in on uncharted territory. A victory on that first weekend in October would see him arguably eclipse the legendary Jack Gibson as the greatest rugby league coach of all time. He will acquire the ability to “write his own ticket” for contract negotiations with new clubs, or even his existing one. But Wayne won’t really care about that. All he will really look forward to is having a quiet word with the boys, and then getting back to the farm to be with his family as soon as possible.

Game plans come and go. Defensive structures and attacking plays are fleeting. What Wayne brings to a team is unity. It can be best summed up with a description of one of Bennett’s biggest rivalries. Three times Brian Smith and Wayne faced off in Grand Finals. In the ’92 decider both coaches went into the sheds with their teams separated by only 2 points. Smith was a madman on the whiteboard, frantically scribbling and explaining what he expected of his charges, whipping them up into a nervous frenzy. Bennett simply walked into the circle of chairs and looked around for a few seconds before saying “How about we go out there and play like the Broncos?”

Should Bennett do the unbelievable and win his eighth premiership, just two weekends away, he’ll do it with the same dignified grace he always has. Rather than jump in front of the cameras and grandstand for the adulation as coaches in the past have been known to do, he’ll simply enjoy watching his boys celebrate their achievement with that small, wry smirk on his face.

“A winner feels responsible for more than his job. A loser says: I only work here” – Wayne Bennett.


First Grade
edabomb for Ninjas

Accentuate the positive

As a Canberra Raiders fan 2013 has been a nightmare. Horrible twists of fate have followed on throughout the entire season – the clubs roster has been decimated in the process. Enduring the season from hell has hardly been an experience to remember. I have written about this numerous times already this season, and endured the reality between March and September. Now I think it would be cathartic to look at some of the positives in our game.

The Newcastle Knights Finals run
This has been a privilege to watch as a neutral fan. The club has delivered back hand to their critics (especially of the old age policy) and delivered a run to remember – even if it ends this week. To see names like Buderus, Gower and Mason still running round in 2013 is a nostalgia trip for all diehard rugby league fans. Combine this with the power of Uate, Leulua and Gagai out wide and you also have the most entertaining team in the past month of action. Hopefully they can continue their run of hot form against the Roosters this weekend. While a win may be too much to ask it would be great to see them end their season with another top performance.

The return of Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill William’s return has been a revelation. Never has a player slipped between rugby league and rugby union at the highest level with such ease. SBW is a mystery unto himself – a massively superior athlete even when amongst the world’s elite he continues to consider a boxing career on the side. It will be a massive loss to our game if he switches back to rugby union next season – which now looks inevitable. But at least we got an extended look at how SBW went in the world of league in his prime. The combination of skill, power and speed is something we will not see again quickly.

The finals double header
While the crowd for this event in week one of the finals was a disappointment it show the NRL is thinking outside of the square with attendance. This has the potential to become a traditional event in the future – something our game lacks massively in the attendance stakes. The more tradition we can get around people attending matches the better the crowds will become.

The TV deal

This deal allows for the NRL to be able to afford to keep the top talents in our game. With the money pumped into the game through this the league needs to continue to look at how this can be used to be put back into the sport and grow it around Oceania. While the deal in itself is a massive boom for game it needs to be planned for and spent wisely.

The Nines in Auckland to begin 2014
Fans in New Zealand are all talking about the Nines tournament set for early 2014. This will see the top NRL talents in the game hit our shores for the first time ever as one. I already know of a number of people booking tickets and planning on heading to Auckland for the weekend. This is a brilliant way to promote the game outside of Australia and is the type of thing the NRL needs to continue to do to ensure the growth of our game.

While these are only a few of the positive things that have happened in the game in 2013, they are something for a bewildered Raiders fan to take into next season. After compounding a poor season this year by signing the reigning wooden spoon coach we need something!

Latest posts