Almanac Rugby League: New NRL season kicks off tomorrow night

The scene is outside Rugby League Central, Driver Avenue, Moore Park NSW 2021, 10.00am Thursday 14th March 2019. A two-man street drama is in full swing. Let’s tune in for a sound bite.

 

Activist 1 (who looks scarily like NRL Chairman Peter Beattie): What do we want? 

Activist 2 (is that NRL CEO Todd Greenberg?): Footy!

Activist 1: When do we want it?

Activist 2: As soon as possible, please! Oh, please, please!!!

Then, as an aside:

Activist 1: You know, Todd, once Round 1 gets underway tomorrow night, you and I can finally get a break from all the s*** of the past few months. Thank goodness, those poor buggers in the Bunker will cop all the flack for the next 29 weeks.

Activist 2: Yes, Peter. All we’ll need to worry about is whether or not the next NSW government will rebuild the stadium!

 

Season 2019 finally kicks off tomorrow night, and not a moment too soon for administrators and fans alike. Bunker blunders, referee howlers, player brain snaps, tribunal inconsistencies, coach outbursts, selection dramas, even Wayne Bennett and Ricky Stuart will be a welcome relief after the off-season from hell.

 

2018 produced one of the most even competitions for years –  four teams finished the home and away series on 34 points while the next four finished on 32 points. You can’t write a much better script. And looking at the new season, it’s not hard to imagine that it might be very similar this year.

 

Here are my predictions. Remember that you read it first at the Almanac.

 

Premiers: Sydney Roosters. Yes, after over 25 years, we’ll finally see back-to-back premiers. They may have lost the enigmatic Blake Ferguson but have gained Angus Crichton and Brett Morris. Barring major injuries, I can’t see who’ll beat them on October 6.

 

Top 8: After the Roosters, in no particular order, Melbourne Storm, Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks, South Sydney Rabbitohs, North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers and St George Illawarra Dragons.

 

Next best: Canberra RaidersNZ Warriors.

 

Wooden spoon: Canterbury Bulldogs on percentage, just below Parramatta Eels.

 

Dally M Medallist: James Tedesco ahead of Kalyn Ponga.

 

State of Origin: NSW 2-1.

 

We’ll check all this in October and see just how much humble pie there is to get through. Feel free to float you predictions for bragging rights when the time comes.

 

Here’s the fixture for Round 1:

 

Thursday: 

Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos, 6.50pm at AAMI Park

Friday:       

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks, 5.00pm at McDonald Jones Stadium (Newcastle)

Sydney Roosters v South Sydney Rabbitohs, 6.55pm at Sydney Cricket Ground

Saturday: 

NZ Warriors v Canterbury Bulldogs, 2.00pm at Mt Smart Stadium

Wests Tigers v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, 4.30pm at Leichhardy Oval

North Queensland Cowboys v St George Illawarra dragons, 6.35pm at 1300SMILES Stadium

Sunday:  

Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels, 3.05pm at Panthers Stadium

Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders, 5.10pm at Cbus Super Stadium

 

Good news stories of the week: (Yes, they do happen in rugby league!) Firstly, the return of Matt Cecchin to the list of whistleblowers. Best in the comp, tries to make it flow. Welcome back, Matt. Secondly, Parramatta debutant Maika Sivo is a good story. I saw him play in Gundagai’s winning Group 9 team in 2015. Could be a real goer. Good luck, Maika.

 

And away we go…

 

 

About Ian Hauser

A happy, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV - although I do share the never-to-be-beaten record for the tenth wicket for the long-defunct Unley Lutheran Cricket Club - a partnership of 62 with Craig Hartmann in 1973! A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I'm a firm believer in the notion that there is a fine line between winning and losing in sport. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of footyalmanac.com.au's online editors, I offer a comprehensive editing service for both new and experienced writers. Check me out at www.writerightediting.com.au Queenslander!

Comments

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