NRL GRAND FINAL
I reckon the NRL is cracking jokes if it thinks the SCG is a better choice to host the 2020 grand final than Suncorp Stadium. I admit I don’t know anything about the finer details of the finances but if giving it to the venue where you can jam in the most people is the only criteria then they might as well hold it in the Sydney Airport carpark. In fact, that’s not such a bad idea. The atmosphere would be better than at the SCG. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been to plenty of footy games at the SCG over the years and back in the day it served a purpose. As long as you didn’t mind being so far from the action that the players looked like ants, trying to get the grass stains out of the seat of your pants for weeks and missing most of the game as you lined up for a beer or the loo, it was fine. But that was in the dark ages of live sports viewing. The whole reason the 2020 grand final is looking for a home is because the NSW Government has finally twigged to the fact that people expect more for their money than an uncomfortable seat and a playing surface that is as far away as your next pay day. They want what Suncorp Stadium patrons have been enjoying for over 15 years – a state of the art facility where there is a not a bad seat in the house, the atmosphere is electric and you feel the players are close enough to touch. When Gus Gould starts calling Suncorp Stadium the best rectangular football ground in the world you know it’s got something going for it. Yet the NRL has passed up a priceless opportunity to give the people of Queensland – the ones who have been the backbone of the game’s live support for decades – a chance to host the jewel in the crown. And why? So they can make a few more bucks, just like they did when they sold off Origin to Perth and Adelaide. I reckon it is a selfish, short-sighted decision which shortchanges the game’s most loyal rugby league supporters who deserve better. What do YOU reckon?
STATE OF ORIGIN
I reckon we’ll see the dawning of a new era at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night. The way Kevvie Walters has approached this year’s Origin series is unlike any Maroons’ preparation since the series began way back in 1980. A lot has been made about the involvement of the so-called “coach whisperer” behind the scenes. Personally I think the focus on the banning of the Queensland players from mentioning the Blues has been overdone. In fact, I think it has missed the big picture. One critic went so far as to say that Kevvie had “lost the plot”. I can’t agree with that. It seems to me that Kevvie realised very early that the two teams this series were going to be incredibly close in terms of talent. It was always going to take more than just skill and old fashioned “Queensland spirit” to win back the trophy. Kevvie had to impress that on his players and his solution was to mix things up a bit; make their preparation different to anything they have done in the past. Sure, saying “we’re not going to even mention the Blues” might sounds strange, but is it any different to “we’re not concerned about the opposition. We’re just going to worry about our own game.” And how many times have we heard a coach say that over the years? The thing that Kevvie said that really struck me was when he stated categorically, “We’re going to win the first game.” Never in almost 40 years of Origin has a Queensland coach uttered those words. In doing so Kevvie has taken a huge gamble and challenged his players to back up his words. I reckon it will pay off. What do YOU reckon?