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Pearce-Cronk showdown to kick-start new NRL rivalry

I had to resist an overwhelming urge to put a pun along the lines of ''chicken to knights'' on the cover of Big League this week. Trust me, it was hard to do.

I realise I've probably lost a few readers already with that lame joke, and I apologise, but I find it hilarious.

This week all anybody is talking about is the great showdown between Cooper Cronk and Mitchell Pearce.

We love a good rivalry in rugby league – and what's wrong with wringing every last drop of excitement and motivation out of a game? Absolutely nothing, I say.

That is after all what our biggest product, Holden State of Origin, is based on. It's also what the classic Wagga Brothers v Wagga Kangaroos battle is all about too, but on a much larger scale (obviously).

I know I'm not Robinson Crusoe here, but it blew my mind when the Roosters announced they had signed Cooper Cronk. And what was left of my already fragile mind was obliterated when Mitchell Pearce confirmed he was joining the Knights.

Somehow I was conscious enough to check the draw to find out when these two old foes would meet next and lucky for us, it's nice and early in the season.

It's a double stroke of luck that the Knights remain unbeaten after two rounds, albeit narrowly, and the Roosters are one from two heading into round three.

It leaves us with a lot of questions and anticipation that will only be quelled after the final game of the round this weekend, as fortune would have it. Hopefully, it's true what they say, and good things come to those who wait.

It's definitely the case for another feature story in Big League this week. Gold Coast hooker Mitch Rein has been through the rugby league wringer in the past couple of years.

Back when he was playing at the Dragons, his name was regularly brought up in State of Origin calculations and for a while there it looked as though he was next in line for the No.9 jersey.

He then fell out of favour with coach Paul McGregor and his contract wasn't renewed at the end of 2016. But here's where it gets interesting.

He took a deal with Penrith, and while he would have been disappointed to play mostly reserve grade in 2017 (except for a handful of NRL games), it was his meal ticket back to regular first grade.

Penrith's NSW Cup coach was none other than Garth Brennan, who made sure to offer Rein a deal with the Titans when he took over the head coaching role on the Gold Coast.

Roosters v Knights

Through hard work, he forced his way into the Titans' best 17 and he’s played the opening two games of the season.

Rein tells the story better himself with the help of Big League writer Ben Lonergan, but it's a nice reminder that while things might seem desperate or hopeless at the moment, luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation.

And that’s enough quotes and lame puns for me this week. Enjoy the footy!

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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