Move over MAFS. Move over MKR. The NRL is now the hottest reality show in town. You couldn’t possibly script the drama and entertainment that we saw in last weekend's opening round.
The thrilling storylines that unfolded were simply unbelievable and I’m still trying to work out which moment takes the cake.
Ben Hunt haunting his former club as he raced away for a try after intercepting that Matt Lodge pass has to be up there.
Or Mitchell Pearce, in his first game for the Knights, kicking the golden point field goal in front of 23,516 fans. Grown men in hi-vis were crying in the Hunter.
The Gold Coast Titans also get a nomination for their impressive performance. With a stack of fresh faces, including new coach Garth Brennan, they came back from 18-0 down to knock off the Canberra Raiders.
We can’t forget about the Wests Tigers beating the Sydney Roosters. Unbelievable! And the bloke who nailed the winning sideline conversion could have been playing reserve grade because some thought he was overweight.
Sharks v Dragons
And how about those Penrith Panthers? A club supposedly in crisis put on a second-half masterclass against the Parramatta Eels.
I’ve watched my fair share of cooking, dating and quiz shows (I won’t mention the time I was on The Price is Right with Larry Emdur), but the entertainment we saw in round one was some of the greatest viewing I’ve ever seen.
I had the opportunity of working at the “battle of the west” derby on Sunday and I loved every minute of it. In fact, I love local derbies altogether. Looking around at the 21,500 fans packed into the ground, it dawned on me how important, and relevant, rivalries are in our game. Yes, more tickets were sold giving the clubs and NRL more revenue, but these games are about more than just money-making. In a derby, everything goes up a notch.
Our rivals may be our greatest enemy, but they are also our best motivators. Players rise to the occasion.
I was chatting to a few of the Penrith players after the match on Sunday afternoon and they all told me how relieved they were to beat their rivals. Josh Mansour said there’s nothing worse than starting the season with a loss to Parramatta. Bragging rights mean everything in Sydney’s west.
And it’s not just the players desperate for victory. Fans want to their team to win just as much – maybe even more. The last thing you want to do on a Monday morning is walk into your work after your team lost on the weekend. And for school kids, who doesn’t want the opportunity to brag to their friends at recess?
When I was a kid, the result of my team would affect my mood for the remainder of the week. Thinking about it, it’s probably still the case... but maybe I’m just a footy tragic.
Looking through the round two fixtures, we have rivalries and local derbies flying at us left, right and centre.
It all kicks off with the Cronulla Sharks hosting the St Gerorge Illawarra Dragons, and I can’t wait to see Josh Dugan run out against his former club. This derby is one of the biggest in the competition.
The Sydney Roosters and the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs go head-to-head on Friday night. They played each other in the 2004 grand final and there’s still lingering tension over the Sonny Bill Williams drama.
We get to watch the next chapter of the Brisbane Broncos and North Queensland Cowboys saga – which I believe is the best modern rivalry in our game. Four of the past six derbies have been decided by just one point and another was decided by a try in extra-time.
The Eels head to Lottoland to face the Sea Eagles on Sunday arvo. They met in the 1976, 1982 and 1983 grand finals. Remember last year when Suaia Matagi and Martin Taupau kept charging at each other? I hope we see that again this time around.
And the weekend wraps up with the Raiders and Knights. These two clubs aren’t your traditional rivals, but they sure have played out some entertaining matches in recent memory, including two golden point games (including a draw) in 2016.
I’ll be at three games this weekend, and when I’m not at the grounds, I’ll be glued to the TV because to me, NRL is the greatest reality show there is!