Is it me or does controversy in sport tend to occur in clumps? As soon as one player transgresses in a social mishap, the next thing you know, others are jumping on the bandwagon. Over the past 24 hours, I’ve heard three comments from reputable sources which have, to say the least, left me somewhat dumbfounded. Did I hear our beloved, respected, impartial and objective CEO Dave Smith refer to Queensland as “the heartland of rugby league”??? Really? No sooner had I finished scratching my head than I picked up a newspaper, only to read a statement from Keiran Foran declaring that Mitchell Pearce will soon become the best halback in the world! Really, really?? and if THAT’s not enough, Andrew Fifita came out with: “If I could go back now, I wish I chose rugby and then I wouldn’t be getting all the s*** I’ve been catching now”. [Deeeeep sigh…].
Let’s start with Mr Smith. Thank God for Foxtel IQ because I had to rewind Dave Smith’s comments a few times, just to make sure I actually heard it correctly. “I think Queensland is the heartland of rugby league,” he said.”I am spending a lot more time up here now and a big part of my development plan relates to Queensland.” “I think this is the greatest Origin team that has ever existed,” he said. “I think they will be going for nine, 10 and 11 (series wins). Rewind. Pause. Rewind. Scratch. Head. Ok, was this one of those rock band situations? You know. When Rock bands perform and declare every city they visit as the best audience in the world? “Thank you Queenslanders!! You guys ROCK!!”. Dave, why don’t you just paint your body maroon and tattoo the legendary number 6 on your back? Better still, why don’t you clear out NRL headquarters and relocate to the heartland? Hey, It wasn’t that long ago when you didn’t even know who the Australian captain was! That very captain just happened to herald from the “heartland”. And the best player to come out of the heartland was Benji Barba. 106 years of rugby league history and Uncle Dave decides to declare the Land of the Hillbillies as our rugby league HEARTLAND? They don’t even have real beer! Surely, that’s a prerequisite for heartland status?
“The greatest origin team ever existed”?? Belcher, Shearer, Meninga, Miles, Hancock, Lewis, Langer, Lindner, Larson, Gillmeister, Backo, Walters, Dowling. Pretty average ay Dave? The current squad is magnificent. Hurts me to say, but granted.
What the hec does “heartland” mean anyway? Surely it’s not a statistical inference is it? Nine Sydney based teams (plus Canberra and Newcastle) vs three Queensland? Sure, Brisbane get the bigger crowds BUT THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE A ONE TEAM CITY Dave! Maths?? Don’t start me on expansion and the over-saturation of the Sydney market! Is “heartland” some notional reference to what is perceived to be the spiritual centre of the rugby league universe? Does the Billy Moore catch-cry continue to reverberate through the corridors of our soul? OK, I’m confused. Where’s that lavender incense gone?
Mitchell Pearce – the best halfback in the world, Keiran? Have you been on the incense too, Keiran? You have a better hope of being the best halfback in the world, Keiran, than you bestest buddy Mitch. Thank God you paraphrased your comment by adding Daly Cherry Evans to the equation. It added some degree of credibility to your statement. For the record. Mitchell Pearce is a very good player. Yes, his team (or should I say SBW) won a Grand Final but, until such time as he leads a NSW team to a series win, he will not be in my top 5, much less number one. Incidentally, there’s a young pup, currently playing for the Tigers, who I would rate a better hope of being the best future halfback than Pearce.
Andrew Fifita – what do they say about too much dollars not enough sense? Message to Raelene Castle: This is your window of opportunity. This is your queue to call. Pick up the phone. Call Mr Fifita and tell him he’s a free agent. He can join SBW and Summy Burrrgesss in next years Rugby World Cup. As a die-hard Bulldog fan, I can NOT sit through another Tony Williams for the next four years. Please. Save your 850K per year and spend it on a quality fullback and/or half back. Message to Andrew Fifita: Go. The NSW Waratahs is the rugby union “heartland”. You’ll be much happier there. I’m sure the Bulldogs will be just fine without your impetuous attitude. So much for the No Dickheads Policy….