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In Touch: Living a week at a time

Leila McKinnon NRL.com Tue, Apr 10, 2012 - 10:15 AM

Manly returned to the winning circle on Monday night. Copyright: NRL Photos

Clairvoyants have it easy. Their clients will probably go on trips, have lost a grandparent, and be worried about a friend or family member. Stick to the basics and we could all take a stab at telling someone’s fortune.

But like television programmers and weather forecasters, rugby league tipsters and supporters are constantly being surprised, disappointed, even humiliated.

“The only thing constant in life is change,” said the 17th century French essayist Francois de la Rochefoucauld.

So why, 350 years after his wise words, can I only see the Storm winning all the way to end of the season, and the Titans languishing miserably at the bottom of the ladder until 2013?

Too many of us live from game to game. Forget about not being able to see the wood for the trees; we can’t see the season for the round.

But check out the longest one-season streaks since 1998 and you’ll find that there’s reason for all of us to hope.

Back in 1999 the Broncos got off to an awful start, losing eight of their first 10 games. But Eels, Titans and Tigers fans can take heart from the 11-game run of wins that followed.

Kevin Walters’ boys must have looked unbeatable, right up until the Sharks dispensed with them comprehensively in the first week of the finals.

In 2002 the Bulldogs won an astonishing 17 games in a row. How heartbreaking for players and fans to have it all whipped away from them when the NRL found they were guilty of exceptional and deliberate breaches of the salary cap. The Roosters went on to take home Norm and Arthur, and all the glory.

Four years later the Storm would thrill Melbourne with 11 victories in a row that took them all the way to the Grand Final. But the Broncos, led by a limping Darren Lockyer, showed them that all streaks must end.

And as recently as last year, the Melbourne Storm notched up 12 consecutive wins, lifting them to the minor premiership. But the Warriors flew into town to take their Grand Final spot, and the Sea Eagles flew away with the premiership.

This time last year the Warriors were coming 11th. Who would have guessed they’d earn a berth in the Grand Final? This year, 11th is where you’ll find the Panthers. Maybe Gus’s boys have a date with destiny.

The Sea Eagles were coming fifth after round six, perhaps quietly dreaming of another title. And look who’s coming fifth now - the mighty Roosters. Even after that ugly win against the Titans, chook fans may have cause for optimism.

The rampaging Storm certainly look as if they will never lose. Spearheaded by Slater, Cronk, and Smith they are fearsome to behold. As Daniel Anderson said in his recent NRL.com column, when they all play the Storm win about 80 percent of their matches.

But NRL history shows that all good things must come to an end. Repeat after me: there are twenty rounds to go. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Billy Slater has a sore foot. Anything can happen.

So whether you’re tipping, despairing, hoping or gloating, be prepared to be surprised, disappointed, or humiliated. It’s all part of the greatest game of all.