'Karma Kings' to debut in NRL Fantasy
A thought occurred to me over the off-season: what if I was to pick this year's NRL Fantasy team based purely on the good guys I have met or players whose work in the community I have become aware of?
Rather than focusing on tackle busts, offloads, kick metres and tries, if I picked a team based only on those who contribute positively both on and off the field surely the NRL Fantasy gods would look down kindly and distribute copious numbers of points to my men.
And thus the Karma Kings were born.
Truth be told, it would have been far easier to whittle down my options from a list of those few players who do the wrong thing and there are some of my favourite all-time blokes in the NRL who I have had to leave out.
Why, you ask? Because of that darn salary cap. There's just no way a member of the Karma Kings would do anything to circumvent that monetary ceiling that keeps us all in check.
Before I unveil the Karma Kings I want to pay tribute to those players who were among the first chosen but were ultimately squeezed out due to the cap.
Jason Clark; absolute champion who I saw stay behind after an away game last year to help clean up the dressing rooms.
Jake Trbojevic; haven't met Jake as yet but anyone who can captain a club such as Manly at such a young age must be thought of highly by people who know. And he was a gun for me in Fantasy last year.
Dale Finucane; good honest country kid from Bega always happy to chat and engages when he does so. Will have a bumper year for the Storm.
Alex Glenn; true, when he answered a question recently with "Hard out bro!" I had no idea what he was talking about, but is a go-to at the Broncos after a loss because he's just too nice to knock you back.
Konrad Hurrell; yes, he has made some errors of judgement but the joy he brings to people around him is quite amazing. Has absolutely thrown himself into community work since joining the Titans and is the favourite of Gold Coast kids.
David Mead; an under-rated player who is a champion fella and is going to do great things at the Broncos in 2017.
So, they're the guys that missed out. Without any further ado, here is the team that will run out for the Karma Kings in Round 1:
Darius Boyd: Watching his transformation over the past three years has been incredible. Has gone from the worst interview in the NRL to one of the best.
Jordan Kahu: Supremely talented guy who fits the Kiwi mould of being an absolute pleasure to talk to.
Jarrod Croker: Any man not ashamed to cry on a footy field shows a strength of character in my books. Quiet achiever who is setting records that may never be broken.
Dean Whare: Haven't had much to do with Dean but love the way he plays and assume he is another of those 'New Zealand nice guys' that us media types love so much.
Anthony Don: Having done it the hard way has perspective and has a try-scoring strike-rate as good as any at the Titans. Loves golf and racehorses too.
Blake Austin: He gave a fan sitting in the cold and rain at a Canberra bus stop a lift to the game last year. Not to mention the work he has done coaching kids in western Sydney. What a guy.
Johnathan Thurston: The simple act of handing his kicking tee back to the ballboys has spread throughout the NRL. Setting an example that the next generation should pay close attention to while they still can.
Elijah Taylor: Did I mention Kiwis are nice fellas? This bloke is among the very best of them and transformed the Tigers when he joined mid-year from the Panthers.
Trent Merrin: Quite possibly my favourite player of 2016. Started the year under immense pressure to deliver at the Panthers, got overlooked for Origin and then played out of his skin to join the Kangaroos in England. Great chat and decent dancer.
Coen Hess: A young man from outback Queensland with his head screwed on very much the right way. And he looks like Ivan Drago from Rocky.
Ryan James: All he wants is to bring success to the Gold Coast and take care of his family. Completed his sports management degree last year and is the perfect man to lead the Titans for the next five years.
Cameron Smith: Given his status in the game it is quite remarkable that Cam can connect with people at any level. When he heard that a schoolteacher was using his behaviour on the field as an example to his students, Cam turned up to surprise both the teacher and his students. In Ipswich!
Tim Mannah: Find someone to say a bad word about Tim Mannah? Thought so. An ambassador for Ronald McDonald House and began the Mannah Foundation in honour of older brother Johnny that helps youth-led charities and those less fortunate.
The bench also consists of guys doing good and if changes need to be made during the course of the season I'll draw from the great reserves of players contributing positively to their communities.
If you know or hear of someone who deserves to be a Karma King message me on Twitter (@tonywebeck) so I can put them in my little black book.