I wonder what the ‘‘Gladiators’’ of the 1963 grand final, Norm Provan, left, and Arthur Summons, would make of it all.AS his team prepare to play Canterbury for the second time in four weeks, Wests Tigers coach Jason Taylor draws attention to a fixture list that no self-respecting pub comp would tolerate.
‘‘For teams to play the same team twice inside of the first eight rounds of the season, it’s ridiculous,’’ says Taylor, adding that the NRL draw is ‘‘completely unfair’’.
It strikes me that JT must be a tad slow on the uptake.
After almost 400 games as a first-grade player or coach, has he only just realised that NRL officials draw up their season schedule by having a few beers and playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey?
What next, I wonder.
Is JT going to complain about salary-cap inequities, clubs being handicapped by Origin commitments, judiciary inconsistencies or referees who can’t count to six?
If he’s after a level playing field, I suggest lawn bowls would be his best bet.
Nonetheless, if anyone from NRL headquarters can explain the logistics of why teams don’t play every opponent home and away, yet somehow in a 24-game season some can play each other twice inside a month, Seven Days would be all ears.
I READ with interest a press release from sportsbetm.au, which reveals that the massive Panthers leagues club has banned mini-skirts, short shorts and thongs from being worn in the licensed premises.
The online bookmaker runs a tongue-in-cheek betting market for the next fashion item to be outlawed.
Mullets ($5) are the favourite, followed by ugg boots ($6), onesies ($7), bandannas ($8), flannos ($9) and Metallica T-shirts ($10).
The Draconian new restrictions seem guaranteed to reduce patronage at the glitzy Caesars Palace of the west.
Fortunately, Penrith locals can still enjoy a beer and a feed just down the road at the nearby Hooters ‘‘sports bar’’, where the dress code is slightly more relaxed. (Or so I am told.)
Meanwhile, the Tigers give Canterbury a 38-14 towelling at ANZ Stadium. Afterwards coach Taylor declares he is happy to play the Doggies every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith responds to Taylor’s criticism with an enlightening explanation: ‘‘The schedule is the schedule.
‘‘It’s part and parcel of the way the structure has been set up in this rights deal,’’ Smith says.
‘‘It’s a fixed schedule. We moved from a less predictive schedule . . . the schedule this year is probably more efficient than the schedule last year, but it is going to throw up quirks from time to time.’’
One of the highlights of this year’s schedule is the special Anzac Day commemoration, in which five games are played back-to-back to honour our brave diggers.
Stirring renditions of the national anthems of New Zealand (Baa Baa Black Sheep) and Australia (Khe Sanh) precede each game.
As players stand side by side at Hunter Stadium, confusion is stamped all over the face of Cowboys prop James Tamou, who was born in NZ, plays Tests for Australia and clearly doesn’t have a clue which anthem to sing.
Later, in the marquee match-up between the Chooks and Dragons at Moore Park, play is sensationally suspended because of a few spots of rain.
On this nostalgic day of saluting the courage and tenacity the Anzacs showed in the trenches, I find myself marvelling at how soft modern-day players have become.
I doubt any of them have seen a muddy puddle, or a rock-hard cricket pitch, in their entire careers.
I wonder what the ‘‘Gladiators’’ of the 1963 grand final, Norm Provan and Arthur Summons, would make of it all.
THE season’s first representative teams are named, and once again the relevance of the annual City-Country match attracts scrutiny.
I would suggest all cynics querying whether City-Country is worth the effort direct their complaints to the Herald’s eloquent columnist, Tony Butterfield.
Butts gets a gig every year on the City staff as ‘‘defensive coach’’, and it would take a braver man than this columnist to stand between him and his junket.
Five Newcastle players are named in the Country team, including the flying Scotsman, James McManus.
Jimmy Mac has scored only one try in his past 13 NRL games, but it is pleasing to see Country selectors recognise his proven record as a big-game player.
ORIGIN is still a month away, but already those dirty rotten Cane Toads are up to their usual tricks.
That is all this columnist can deduce after South Sydney’s Luke Keary pulls out of the City team citing a ‘‘foot injury’’.
It is well known that Keary, who was born in Ipswich and lived there until he moved to Sydney at the age of 10, would prefer to play for the XXXX-heads.
But under Origin qualification rules, he has been classified as a New South Welshman, hence his selection for City.
This clearly does not sit well with the Banana Benders, who have long preferred to make up the eligibility rules as they go. Call it a conspiracy theory, but if Bowraville’s Greg Inglis can play 20-odd Origins for Queensland, I wouldn’t be surprised if Keary pops up in a Maroons jersey at some point.
Another of the usual plethora of withdrawals from the City and Country teams is Newcastle’s Jarrod Mullen, who is ruled out after being concussed in the loss to the Cows.
This spares Mullo from the annual ritual of footy scribes painting him as a possible Origin bolter, a tradition that dates back eight years.
SEVEN Days notes a snippet in the game’s bible, Rugby League Week, about the impact former Knights under-20s prop Josh Ailaomai is having with the Burleigh Bears.
My sports department colleagues love reminding me that I may have once referred to Ailaomai as ‘‘Newcastle’s next big thing’’ and ‘‘another Fuifui Moimoi’’.
I still say he could have been anything if not for an unfortunate incident in 2011, when he ‘‘bumped’’ an under-20s referee and received an eight-game suspension.
Sadly, after about seven seasons in the under-20s, big Josh is still waiting to make his NRL debut, after stints at the Knights, Roosters and Dragons.
But the 120-kilogram prop is still only 23 and apparently going gangbusters in the Queensland Cup.
I haven’t given up on him just yet. He’s no Constantine Mika, but he’s no mug.
I READ with interest that South Sydney hooker Issac Luke has been fined $5000, with another $5000 suspended, for labelling some annoying Bulldogs fans ‘‘lil poofters’’ on social media.
The news comes after Brumbies forward Jacques Potgieter was fined $10,000 (with a further $10,000 suspended) for using the word ‘‘faggot’’ in a recent Super Rugby match against the NSW Waratahs.
The moral of the story is obvious.
If you are remotely homophobic, play rugby league. It will save you money in the long run.