I’m a proud Dad. I just signed my eldest boy a junior membership of the Parramatta Eels Footy Club. From the tender age of three I’ve consigned him to a life of disappointment, despair, failure and futility. He’s completely oblivious to what pain lies ahead in the years to come. Ah, the innocence of youth. Despite my melancholy though, watching him bounce around the home proudly holding his 2011 membership card screaming ‘Sparky Junior Eels’ to anyone who’d listen had me bursting at the seams with joy. And isn’t that what sport is really all about? Knowing that you’re destined to lose, and still enjoying the ride!!!
I’m excited that this weekend will mark the official return of the NRL to the front of the back page...even though Todd Carney, Benji Marshall, Nathan Tinkler and Ryan Tandy have been doing a great job of whetting our appetites over the pre-season.
SIDENOTE: I hate how the NRL has turned into a public soap opera with all of the drinking and punching and groping and gambling etc. Most of the sports journos now are just glorified gossip columnists. I will make one statement related to all of the recent off-field drama. If I see John Elias competing in a tipping comp...I’m taking his picks!!!
This season I’ve decided to put my traditionally pathetic tips in the public domain. Maybe putting me up for public ridicule can change my luck somewhat. Not likely I know, but I’ve got to cling onto whatever hope is available.
Before I get to my (admittedly crappy) tips, I just need to vent a little about all the hoopla that was created when the NRL announced Bon Jovi’s ‘This is our house’ as the official song of the 2011 NRL season. Talkback radio was inundated with pensioners, rednecks, surfers, skaters, dole bludgers and the like all complaining that an American band was used to promote an Aussie game. An example from a particularly crusty old lady went something along the lines of:
“How come a game invented in England and played in Australia needs Americans to promote it?”
When asked who she’d like to hear sing the song instead she responded:
Right...let’s invite Human Nature or Savage Garden to sing the NRL anthem. Maybe Natalia Imbruglia wants to have a crack. Possibly a Guy Sebastian duet with Anthony Callea? Are the Wiggles in town?
Seriously folks. Bon Jovi are one of the world’s biggest rock bands, can resonate with both an older audience and the younger market, and have a great track record producing catchy hits that go mainstream. Let’s congratulate the NRL on doing something right for a change – heaven knows that screw a lot of things up – and move onto bigger issues.
But I digress. Without further ado, here are my tips for Round One:
Friday, 11th March
Broncos versus Cowboys @ Suncorp Stadium
TIP: Broncos. Coming off Darren Lockyer handing Ivan Henjak his notice, the Broncos will be ready to put on a good show in what is a year long plea for Wayne Bennett to return to his spiritual home.
Roosters versus Rabbitohs @ SFS
TIP: Roosters. Carney’s sober again, Inglis is still fat. A tight win for the tri-colours.
Saturday, 12th March
Titans versus Steelers @ Skilled Park
TIP: Titans. Always strong at home. The Illawarra boys still suffering jet lag and hangover after winning the ‘World’ Club Challenge.
Warriors versus Eels @ Eden Park
TIP: Eels. I can’t tip against my team!!!Which is probably why I’ve never won a tipping comp. Inu and Mateo to showcase why they got shipped across the ditch with some phenomenal skill mixed in with a number of brain explosions and general lack of effort.
Storm versus Sea Eagles @ AAMI Park
TIP: Storm. I know they’ve got a team of juniors and rookies, but they’re keeping one set of books now, and will be chomping at the bit to cast aside the bitter memory of 2010.
Sunday, 13th March
Raiders versus Sharks @ Canberra Stadium
TIP: Raiders. Always tough at home...and let’s face it, the Sharks are shite.
Panthers versus Knights @ Centrebet Stadium
TIP: Panthers. Knights districted by ownership issues. Panthers to take a close one at home.
Monday, 14th March
Bulldogs versus Tigers
TIP: Tigers. I know that the Dogs are everyone’s favourite pick after recruiting so well in the offseason. I just think Benji will kick everyone’s arse in this one.
DOWN: Manchester United. Followed a tight loss at Chelsea by announcing that Michael Carrick has re-signed for four more years. FOUR MORE YEARS!!! Then they had the gall to get spanked by Liverpool 3-1. I don’t think I’ve experienced a more depressing week as a Man U fan. I can live with the losses...barely. But paying Michael Carrick to stay at the club for another four years?!?! That’s a disaster. He was pitched as an elegant, ball playing central midfielder when he arrived at the club, in the same mould as an Iniesta or Xavi Alonso. Now he’s just a useless turd. Sell off Carrick to a mid table EPL club. He’s English and can kick a ball in a straight line (barely) so you can still whack on a decent price tag. Then buy a central midfielder who can actually dominate a game like a Wesley Sneijder. Scares the living hell out of me that we’re still so reliant on Scholes and Giggs (PBUT).
UP: The Fighting Irish. Although the opening games of the Cricket ‘World’ Cup are decidedly boring, Ireland’s run chase to defeat England was amazing. Every now and again a minnow will beat a giant in cricket by virtue of an extreme batting collapse in the superior team. Rarely does the minnow chase an overwhelming target.
UP: NBA Trade Deadline: The Melodrama is over and Carmelo Anthony is now a New York Knickerbocker. Deron Williams packed his bags for New Jersey. The Thunder scored a big man with championship experience in Kendrick Perkins. The Celts got more flexibility, but lost an important glue guy. The Trail Blazers got a great 3rd/4th banana (Gerald Wallace) for not much at all. Lot’s of activity leading to a lot of intrigue for the remainder of the regular season. I still tip the Lakers to take it out (injury permitting) and Kobe to equal MJ with six rings.
DOWN: The NSW Waratahs: Fancy calling Sonny-Bill Williams the weak link in the lead up to facing him! I’m no SBW fanatic. But the guy is a former league international who boxes for fun. He’s built like Jake the Muss 2.0. In the wonderfully soft world of Union...calling SBW a weak link is tantamount to signing your own death warrant. No wonder they got crushed. And the Rah Rahs are meant to be the smart ones!!!
UP: Jelena Dokic. Great to see the Serb, Aussie, Serb, Aussie, Serb, Aussie get back in the winners circle by winning the Malaysian Open. She’s struggled for form and fitness for years now. Nice to have some reward for all the hard work and persistence. Bravo!