This week in Big League magazine
WE don’t celebrate good behaviour very often; it’s the unseemly incidents that grab all of the headlines. But as the NRL prepares for two massive Good Friday blockbusters and then another exciting double-header on Easter Monday, I want to give you, the NRL fan, a pat on the back.
Given the appalling behaviour surrounding a recent A-League game I think rugby league should be proud of the environment it has fostered at its grounds and the general good spirit in which opposing fans can sit and either cheer a victory or look for somewhere to hide in a heavy defeat.
There is talk of between 40,000-50,000 people expected to watch Ben Barba’s comeback for the Bulldogs against South Sydney on Friday afternoon and the same should pour into Suncorp to watch the Broncos host the Storm. There will inevitably be isolated confrontations between opposing fans but for the vast majority, a night at the footy remains a family friendly activity.
There are sports all over the world where opposing fans are segregated for fear of violence but in rugby league we can sit next to someone wearing the ‘wrong-coloured’ jumper and enjoy a shared spectacle. It may be something we take for granted but we should be conscious to cherish it.
If you can, get out to a game this weekend and soak up the atmosphere. And at the end of 80 minutes, find a fan of the opposition and be gracious in victory or magnanimous in defeat. It’s just one of the many things that makes rugby league so great.
THERE is something going horribly wrong at the Warriors and it needs to be fixed, fast. I don’t know why the players are performing as we have seen over the first three weeks and I’m sure it is just as bewildering to coach Matthew Elliott.
Rugby league as a whole needs the Warriors to be successful to shore up support in New Zealand. If the current losing trend continues then the choice between the NRL or their local Super 15 franchise will become decidedly one-sided.
And it’s the way they are losing. Plenty of teams will lose three in a row this year but it will take a major form slump to match what the Warriors have produced so far.
They have conceded 84 points (average of 28 per game), scored just 28, have not made more than two line-breaks in any game and are averaging 27 missed tackles. But that’s not the worst of it. The low point in their loss to the Sharks was watching Shaun Johnson chase down Sam Tagataese over 45 metres and not lay a hand on him. This was one of the most light-stepping players in our competition unable to make ground on a 193cm, 109kg front-rower.
Rugby league was vibrant when the Warriors surged to the Grand Final in 2010 and they add so much to the NRL when they are playing to their potential. I hope it turns around in front of their home fans this weekend because if the players aren’t prepared to turn up, I don’t think fans should be expected to either.