BY CURTIS WOODWARD
The South Sydney Rabbitohs announced on Monday that Latrell Mitchell was crossing Anzac Parade to become the club’s newest acquisition – ending months of speculation on the young gun’s future.
Over in Bondi, the Roosters went about their business. They’d known for some time Mitchell wouldn’t be at the Tricolours in 2020. The official statement came on Monday morning.
While the Chooks plotted a remarkable third consecutive premiership, Wests Tigers licked their wounds. Another one lost. Always the bridesmaid – never the bride. If Latrell had signed at Concord, Wests Tigers fans from Camden to Lillyfied would have been doing backflips. Now he’s not, they’ll tell you they dodged a bullet.
Gold Coast Titans?
Nah… was never happening.
Today we deal in facts and the fact is, it’s all about the Rabbitohs and the Roosters… again.
The rest of the off-season, then pre-season and the competition proper will be devoured by Mitchell versus Roosters, Latrell’s growing cult status at Redfern, Joey Manu versus Latrell, Greg Inglis the mentor, how Uncle Wayne has made Latrell a better man, what Rocky The Rooster thinks and it goes on and on.
While everyone else is over Souths versus ‘Easts’, there is something other clubs can learn.
To be fair, nobody else outside these two fanbases gave a crap about these fixtures until Russell Crowe took over at Souths and launched ‘The Book of Feuds’. Now it’s a must-watch game. It’s one of the biggest matches of the year. Whether you support Canterbury, Parramatta or Brisbane, you sit down and watch a Roosters/Rabbitohs clash.
Old Rusty gave the rivalry some hatred.
He was selling it the same way a promoter pumps up a big boxing match.
Rugby league’s grudges could be so much more.
The Bulldogs and the Eels only seems to mean something when both sides are at the top of the table. Canterbury coach Dean Pay played for both teams back in the 1990’s. He walked out on the Bulldogs at the height of the Super League War. At the very least, Eels coach Brad Arthur can come out of before the game and mention it. Something… anything.
Wests Tigers should be getting on the phone to St George Illawarra and Penrith. One of Wests Tigers’ home grounds, Campbelltown, is a mere 40 minute drive from Wollongong. Yet we never ever hear anything about a ‘Battle for Mount Ousley’. The Dharawal National Park spans from Campbelltown all the way down to Coledale. Do something with that!
To their north, Wests Tigers’ territory borders the Panthers – an area absolutely booming. There’s a new airport, motorways and suburbs popping up or on their way everywhere out there. Both clubs should be scratching for every inch. At least put a bloody billboard up or something. Wests Tigers’ footprint in the South West also clashes in a very competitive area around Liverpool with the Bulldogs and Eels.
The Shire derby between Cronulla and the Dragons always has spice and it will be strange to see the Sharks play home games at Kogarah this year.
Penrith versus Parramatta is chugging along nicely while the Broncos and Cowboys has faded ever so slightly in recent seasons.
Everybody against those bastard Silvertails in Manly!
Modern sport can sometimes be a little too sanitised but we have seen that clever or cheeky marketing will be rewarded.
Fans are out there waiting to be inspired.
Bring the grudges back!