I would like for everyone to take a moment, sit back and soak in everything that’s going on in rugby league at the moment.
I bet most of you didn’t think about the Melbourne Storm’s grand final triumph over the North Queensland Cowboys, because it certainly feels as though the rugby league community have well and truly moved on from this year’s premiership.Embed from Getty Images
Now that the regular season is over, most of our attention has turned to the upcoming Rugby League World Cup and the build-up so far has been quite extraordinary.
Even though the world cup is still a couple of weeks away, the drama that’s unfolded in relation to player defections, player selections, selection criteria, coaches under pressure, team culture and the relevance of the international game has captivated league fans and divided opinions.
We have players and coaches going public with their criticisms, mainly directed at Jason Taumalolo for choosing to represent his heritage and play for Tonga rather than New Zealand, his country of birth, and Andrew Fifita, choosing to represent his father’s heritage and practically walking out of the Australian team after being selected, also to play for Tonga.
Many rugby league personalities, ex-players, journalists and fans have voiced their opinions on the issue, but nothing beats Tongan rugby league legend John Hopoate threatening to bash New Zealand captain, Adam Blair.
This could go down as one of the highest anticipated world cup’s we’ve seen for a long time. The intrigue surrounding the match-up between New Zealand and Tonga will be must see. Then we have Wayne Bennett’s England taking on Mal Meninga’s Australia, the bitter rivalry between the two coaches is enough to leave fans intrigued.
There’s been a lot of discussion in regards to which teams can mount a serious challenge to Australia’s world cup title defence and a lot of interest in how second-tier teams will go, considering some will be stacked with NRL and Super League talent.
The build-up has been sporting theatre at it’s best!
Moving away from the world cup, we also have player movements, clubs still in crisis, parts of next years draw being released which includes double headers, games being taken to Perth and to the bush, the introduction of female referees and, well, Cooper Cronk.
Seriously, what is going on with Cooper Cronk? Is he retiring? Will he play on? Which clubs are chasing him? Which clubs is he considering playing for? But most importantly, how the hell can the Roosters fit him under their salary sombrero?
The speculation about Cronk’s future has been going on for months now and although we are all frustrated waiting to hear what he decides to do, we are still very much waiting with anticipation.
Then there’s the Gold Coast Titans. What a debacle!
From the never ending Jarryd Hayne saga to the sacking of coach Neil Henry, the Titans were still in reach of making the finals after 20 rounds before the entire club practically imploded.
But the drama hasn’t ended north of the Tweed because they’re still without an owner, still without a coach, many key players including Ash Taylor remain unsigned and the entire future of the club is still clouded with uncertainty.
In other news, the NSW Origin team is still without a coach. Blake Ferguson is in the news for all the wrong reasons again. The Bulldogs board is in turmoil.
Will Todd Carney return to the NRL? Fans are following closely to which players are leaving and signing with their clubs. And last, but certainly not least, the Women’s Rugby League World Cup starting on the 16th November.
Despite the fact we are now on the eve of cricket season (and A-League for you soccer fans), there is no doubt they’ll be sharing the headlines with rugby league this summer.
It’s still going to be a while before us league fans can relax for an off-season. There’s going to be so many more articles to be written and so many more headlines will be created before rugby league signs off for 2017.