In case you missed the Friday night game in Perth - and if you did, take a look at yourself and sort that shit out - this is how it looked, for eighty awesome minutes.
It was without a doubt one of the more astonishing and captivating games I've seen. Bizarre, too, because for reasons which will never be clear, at least to me, the Bunnies seemed to play pretty much their best footy of the season in the worst conditions of the season. In a pond, essentially. What's that about? Greg Inglis is obviously a natural mudder, because he had a bit of a blinder up against Justin Hodges and also looked to be enjoying himself - I know, I didn't think it was possible either - but what of the other Bunnies, what's doing there? Frankly, they are too mystifying and enigmatic a team for me to ever get a hold on, so they don't bear thinking about. Next.
Perth was pandemonium, anyway. The ball was squirting all over the place, Rhys Wesser scored an outlandish try on the back of the ball coming to a dead stop in the swamp at the Broncos' end, Dave Taylor looked like nothing so much as a great white shark who had found himself washed up into shallow waters and everyone's shorts came loose at one time or another. Also, Darren Lockyer made several extravagant wet weather-type errors, which I applauded. I don't know what it says about my character but I enjoy seeing the Greats get a bit sloppy every now and again. Especially if they're Maroons, that really blows my hair back.
There was a loose, festive atmosphere over there; among the players, obviously, because the game just looked like mad fun for all, but among the spectators as well. Bear in mind that all fifteen thousand of them were unencumbered by umbrellas, which - so much for the last frontier - are outlawed in their stadium. Still, I think what that rule really in essence allows for is extra hands to hold extra cans. From the footage I saw, the West Australians have a good grasp on the way this seemingly stupid rule ultimately balances out in their favour. This is the state that gave us Ben Cousins, after all.
If the game had been on the East Coast in that kind of monsoonal weather I imagine there would have been a kind of grim, gothic, slaugherhouse vibe to proceedings, but apparently the good people of Perth are untroubled by inclement weather, and why wouldn't they be? I'd be light of heart and largely carefree too if I lived over there in the land of milk and honey and huge holes in the ground, I'm sure of it. I'd have a ute, it'd be awesome.
I was so fixated on the game that at the end I actually thought my eyes or - more likely - my mind was malfunctioning when I saw John Lang launch into a belly slide through a huge puddle post-game. I blinked in that way you do when you're snapping out of a micro-sleep and find your car to be running off the road and need to get on top of the situation in a hurry. And here I was all this time thinking John Lang was a lousy,dour old coot. Think again! He is obviously just as wild and reckless a ratbag as those hooligans he coaches. This realisation raised for me the very real possibility that he also has 'my brother's keeper' stenciled on his person somewhere under that Driza-Bone.
Sam Burgess, out for the season with a yeast infection or something and obviously bone-idle, added to the vaudeville vibe by having a crack at some sideline commentary. This pleased me. I appreciate Channel Nine continuing their affiliation with completely incoherent but endlessly endearing sideline commentators ('sup Freddie!) Not counting Joey here, obviously. He strings insightful observations together into sentences like it's nobody's business.
So did this weekend have it all or what? The concept of 'wet-weather football' was spectacularly redefined, the Panthers wore pink and made the Cowboys their bitches, Billy Slater crashed painfully into fence railings while playing the Warriors, the Roosters continued their entertaining slide down to the cellar, and of course the Mighty Raiders got a win, taking their tally to four wins for the year. Go you good Raiders. Hold your applause, though, as this deserves a stand-alone post. Also, I have a personal apology to Josh McCrone pending. Gird your loins for that one, godknows I am.
What else? Well, Paul Gallan continued to win at life, and Scott Prince continued to suck at life, basically. This was all neatly illustrated when the Sharks met and dismenmbered the Titans on Saturday. They set upon them like a pack of hyenas tearing into a carcass, which is to say with remorseless enthusiasm and a good deal of savagery. It was great stuff, if somewhat obscene at times.
Poor Prince. He has a look about him lately that someone might wear when a ship is going down. I think the only thing that could make him look any more dazed and dejected right now would be if David Gallop were to suddenly order an audit on the Titans. Can you imagine? In effect, what would happen here is that Gallop and his cronies would huff and puff and blow down that allegedly illegal house that the Titans allegedly built for Prince.
I occasionally visualise this actually happening - I know, sometimes I think of all the constructive things I could be doing too, but not for long, not when I have such a rich vein of NRL related absurdities to tap - and, if I substitute the haystack house for some palatial pile on an artificial canal or whatever it is those rort-happy Titans knocked up for him, this is exactly the vision I get:
My advice to Scott Prince is this: wait until you wake up one day and see a wrecking ball coming through your pool room, Princey, because then and only then will that ship-going-down look be warranted.
In the meantime, and speaking of sinking ships, I have the Roosters to turn my attentions to.
The Roosters, being a team in free-fall and all, continued to make things difficult for themselves yesterday. Trifling matters like staying onside seem not to trouble lately, and they are also locked into an untidy habit whereby should they manage to score they inevitably cock-up the next set. On tackle one, usually. You could set your watch to it.
None of this worries me though, not with Todd Carney back and fresh to death. Ineffectual in terms of play, maybe, but details, details. After all, if the Roosters care not for details why should I? Anyway, it pleases me to see him back on the burning deck and representing for the Women in League round, because we all know he and Leanne are the tightest mother-son unit in the league - possibly the world - and that he would be totally wearing the pink six just for her. And damn if the boy doesn't wear it well. Know what else he'd wear well? Me. Just sayin'.
Okay. Given that I've started in on the sexual objesctification of football players, it's only natural that I now turn my gimlet eye to the Penrith Panthers. The what-now?! I know, that is not a sentence I ever expected to write either.
I am of the opinion that the Panthers are one of the uglier teams in the league. Unless you're rudely superficial, as I am, this is neither here nor there; if anything I suppose you could argue it actually enhances their mountain-man image. If I had my way I'd have them expand on this image exponentially - I'd consign them to shacks in the hills during the week, lash dead deer to the bonnets of their cars and have them brew moonshine on the side. Gus Gould, pay attention.
Thurston is outrageously good looking. Let's be real, he is. I like his eyes, they're shiny and they have a bit of a feral look to them. This gives the impression that he is a man of many appetites, some healthier than others.
Last year when he was thrown out of that Brisbane casino for allegedly "harrassing partons with his crutch"? My instantaneous and absolutely instinctive first thought upon hearing that quote was "he could harrass me with that crotch anytime". I know, I know, stop that sniggering up the back. Anyway, my point is that he is unmistakably, insanely hot.
However. LUKE LEWIS. Now, Luke Lewis is nothing if not a towering meathead with an unusually heavy eyebrow ridge. Essentially, he strikes me as the type who would spend the majority of his downtime lolling on patio furniture with one testicle hanging out of his shorts. There is nothing inherently wrong with this; actually there is plenty to like about such a scenario. It's just that prior to Origin Two I never really noticed the guy. The reasons for this oversight are obvious: men like Johnathan Thurston and Matt Cooper who prowl the field like they're big cats patrolling the perimetres of their own personal pieces of savannah. Bitches need to step off from time to time.
With Luke Lewis out there all pretty in pink I paid far less attention to JT, except for when he deliberately headed the ball forward and looked for a moment like he was about to lay into the ref when scolded with "it's not soccer Johnathan", that sure caught my interest. And, really, so did all the times when he showed that crazy instinct that allows him to know exactly where the ball is, exactly where it's going to go and exactly where he needs to be -which is basically his game for the entire eighty, now that I think about it.
Still, all the Panthers looked great, even the dog-ugly annonymous ones, of which there are - correction: were, prior to yesterday - several. Even that elusive, once-sighted and unidentified Panther who had the longest, stringiest ratstail I have ever seen attached to a football player hanging out the back of his jersey, even he looked distinguished. So, you know, something there for everyone over the weekend.
And the moral of this small story? There is no moral, fool, this is football.