I have seen the future of top line sport. Ever wondered what a Paul Roos v Ross Lyon Grand Final would look like? Well anyone who watched tonight’s Game 2 of the Rugby League NSW v Queensland State of Origin got it in spades.
Look I get all the context of the Cockroaches as long time losers. I get the 80,000 Marj Simpson’s in the stands baying for revenge. I get the “State v State; Mate v Mate” hoopla. I lived in Canberra for 15 years in the 80’s and 90’s when the Daley/Stuart/Meninga/Clyde Raiders were in their pomp. King Wally, Senator “Brick with Eyes” and little blonde Alfie “Deborah Kerr” (the King and I) dominated for the Canetoads in the cauldron. It was dramatic, creative, suspenseful – everything that a sporting neutral yearns for.
I half watched most of this year’s Game 1, but I gave tonight my full attention (I owe AE 6 uninterrupted Bold & Beautifuls in return). I was hoping for Slater, Inglis, Hayne magic that echoed that brilliant creativity and individualism of yesteryear.
What I got was the epitome of modern strategized, analysed, risk managed, sterilised, anal-ised, play the percentages, terrified, professionalised sport. Yes it was the ‘close one’, in the same way that it was the only thing that kept the 2013 AFL Grand Final vaguely interesting. If you keep the scores low enough the struggling side is always theoretically in it.
Both sides were too terrified to take a chance with creativity or ball out wide. As a consequence they played the game in the confines of an overcrowded midfield with more resulting turnovers than a hyperactive hamburger cook strung out on crystal meth.
The last 5 minutes was Jonathon Thurston auditioning for a role in Grumpy Old Men as Christopher Pyne’s assistant minister.
AFL can both look at its future if it does not modify its rules to reward skill over brute athleticism, and breath a sigh of relief that League’s feature contest was as appealing as an Abbott v Shorten debate for the impartial observer.
Rabbits, Gus and Darren trying to talk up the turd made BT, Bruce and Basil sound like Arlott, McGilvray and Tim Lane.
Roll on the Football World Cup. FIFA may be corrupt, but at least they manage to put on a show full of artistry and creativity.