BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Rugby league you crazy, old bat. No other game rips and burns and chews you up, quite like our beloved sport. She is an unforgiving, impossible question that will never yield. But would we have it any other way?
She’s a temptress with a bad attitude and she knows she’ll win.
But she’s too beautiful to not fixate on. The longer you stare – the stronger her grip around you becomes until the point where there’s no getting away. You’re hooked for life and rugby league becomes you. And here we are again, through another pre-season full of scandal, ready to shed old skin and break into a new campaign full of colour, fireworks, bright lights and glory.
No other code in this country can compete with the highs and lows that rugby league offers.
Doomsayers once again hold their vigils, lighting their candles for the NRL half expecting Cronulla-Sutherland and Brisbane to not even bother running out onto the field on March 2nd.
Why even try if rugby league is dying?
Propaganda machines can steam ahead spewing excrement wherever they please but no propaganda machine will ever defeat the temptress.
How do you kill something that can’t be killed?
Nietzsche once said, “One must pay dearly for immortality; one has to die several times while still alive.”
Is this not rugby league in a proverbial nutshell?
The anthem goes on and as the 2017 campaign begins next Thursday, remember that this is the greatest game of all and there is nothing else like the NRL. Remember that this is our sport, our cities and the future holds whatever we want it to hold. We are the biggest code by a mile in Australia’s biggest state, dominate Queensland and have imprinted ourselves in Melbourne and New Zealand, State of Origin is a beast unto itself, we have a World Cup at the end of the year and room for growth every other sport should be envious off.
Why is it that when we beat our chests we’re shot down in flames?
Our chest has the scars of a thousand wars. That same chest has the thickest of skins. To understand the rugby league fan is to become one. There’s no other way.
And all the while the temptress whispers sweet nothings from her lair.
The question is – who does the temptress give mercy to this season?
Last year it was the Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys before that and South Sydney in 2014. If you totalled up the years between Rabbitohs last title win in the 1970’s, Sharks’ first premiership since inception in 1967 and the Cowboys’ first since 1995 up until their fateful nights, you’d have 112 years of pain in between.
Canberra were so close to a grand final appearance last year but fell at the final hurdle.
While the Broncos are still mighty they haven’t won the title since 2006 – that’s now eleven years ago for those playing at home.
Penrith and Canterbury, both finalists last season, have had to wait longer. The Panthers won it in 2003 while the Dogs won it the following season.
Gold Coast Titans featuring Jarryd Hayne have never won it in any of their reincarnations while Wests Tigers’ 2005 triumph seems like an eternity ago.
New Zealand? Never won it.
Newcastle Knights? 2001.
And the Parramatta Eels, once the super heavyweights of rugby league.
Decades have gone by since then and while they’ve gone close a few times, the premiership still eludes them.
There’s always more questions than answers this time of year.
That’s just the way the temptress wants it.