The stadium issue in Sydney

Back in December 2014, I wrote an article on The Roar about the stadium issue in Sydney, and talked about the various options for sports stadia developments in Sydney.

I talked about ANZ Stadium, and the options for redeveloping the Olympic Stadium that has delivered Australia so many wonderful sporting memories. I talked about the options for Western Sydney, for which they have now decided to go with demolishing and building a new stadium on the land of the old Parramatta Stadium, as well as the options for Allianz Stadium, and for Brookvale Oval, a ground clearly in need of rejuvenation!

However, it has only been in recent times that all the stakeholders have moved to decide which stadiums should be redeveloped or built in Sydney.

As I briefly mentioned before, work on building the new Western Sydney Stadium on the site of the old Parramatta Stadium is well and truly underway with the 30,000-seat stadium set for completion in 2019, but news on the futures of ANZ Stadium, also known as Stadium Australia, and Allianz Stadium, also known as the Sydney Football Stadium, have been recently announced.

ANZ Stadium is set to be demolished and rebuilt into a 75,000-seat stadium, and reconfigured into a rectangular field, meaning that only sports played on a rectangular field, like rugby league, rugby union, and football can be played at the stadium. The stadium is set to feature a retractable roof, meaning that matches can be played in perfect conditions all year round. Construction works will begin in late 2019.

This is a slightly different plan from the one I talked about the stadium back in 2014, which planned on catering for all sports, including Australian rules football, and cricket, as well as having the possibility of hosting major athletics championships, such as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship, due to the ability of being able to reconfigure the stadium from a rectangle to an oval, and vice-versa!

I would prefer that a redeveloped ANZ Stadium was able to cater for all sports (both rectangular and oval), and even if the cost of redevelopment is slightly more than to demolish and rebuild, would it matter if you had more sports and more teams using the venue on a regular basis?

I am not sure if I agree with the New South Wales (NSW) Government’s decision to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, but I certainly agree that Allianz Stadium needs to be demolished and rebuilt, with construction works for Allianz Stadium beginning at the end of 2018.

The stadium is riddled with so many violations of safety standards, including violations Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Standards, and is not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act in terms of offering the amount of seats/spots for people in wheelchairs to watch their favourite sports from a great vantage point.

In addition, I have heard that the standards of media facilities at Allianz Stadium is poor, as referenced by Phil Gould back in September, and with so many issues with the stadium, it is time for Allianz Stadium to be rebuilt!

However, the issue I have about the rebuild of Allianz Stadium is not that it is going to be rebuilt, but the eventual seating capacity of the new stadium is going to be around 45,000, which is roughly the same amount as it is right now, where in logical reality, it should be at least 5,000 to 10,000 more than that!

Overall, I fully agree to Allianz Stadium being demolished and rebuilt, but I think it is a massive call to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium, and I still believe that it should be a unique stadium that has the ability to cater for a multitude of sports, in all shapes and sizes, and that this could be down by a major redevelopment of the stadium, rather than a total demolition and rebuild job.

Don’t be surprised, perhaps in the near future, that if Sydney wants to host an IAAF World Championships, a Commonwealth Games, or even an Olympic Games that people will start complaining that Sydney doesn’t have an adequate, as in modern, stadium to host these kind of events, and that a brand-new stadium would have to be built, one that is extremely expensive, to cater for these kind of events, even though those same people complaining supported the decision of the NSW Government back in 2017 to demolish and rebuild ANZ Stadium into a national stadium catering for just rectangular sports!

 

 

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2017 Rugby League World Cup – Preview

On Friday night, the opening match of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will take place from the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium (AAMI Park) between Australia and England, and there have been a lot of storylines dominating the lead-up to the event, including the defections of notable New Zealand and Australian players, including Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, to play for Tonga, who have announced a very strong squad capable of causing, perhaps, the biggest/greatest story in rugby league history.

Tonga have assembled a squad that certainly match it with Australia, New Zealand, and England, but will they be able to handle the pressure and the media attention that they have received as a result of the high-profile defections? Tonga have never made the quarter-finals at the Rugby League World Cup, but look like they have the quality of squad to make to at least the semi-finals

Australia have announced a strong squad as always, as they look to win the Rugby League World Cup for the 11th time, but the period since the last Rugby League World Cup has been a period of transition for the Kangaroos, with a number of high-profile retirements and injuries, as well as change of coach from Tim Sheens to Mal Meninga.

Only four players (Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, and Boyd Cordner) who were in the Australian squad at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, a side which dominated the competition, are in the squad for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. In fact, Australia have not conceded a try in 404 minutes of World Cup rugby league, a proud record which they will look to continue during this tournament.

New Zealand have had a torrid build-up to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, with Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor banned by coach David Kidwell after spending a night out in Canberra, and being caught with cocaine. Then the high-profile defections of many of the Kiwi players to Tonga, the highest profile of them all being Jason Taumalolo, have sent Kidwell’s best-laid plans into disarray.

This combined with their poor form, losing seven of their last 10 matches, as well as drawing against Scotland (18-18) last year in the Four Nations, as well as their opponents in Group B being Samoa, Scotland, and Tonga, means that New Zealand won’t be having an easy run if they want to win their second Rugby League World Cup.

However, after saying all of that, it won’t surprise me if New Zealand go onto win it all!

England are the dark-horses out of the three Tier One nations in rugby league, and they have a strong squad on paper with seven players (Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess, James Graham, Chris Heighington, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead, and Gareth Widdop) plying their trade in the National Rugby League (NRL), while nine players (Luke Gale, Ryan Hall, Jonny Lomax, Mike McMeeken, Mark Percival, James Roby, Scott Taylor, Alex Walmsley, and Kallum Watkins) participated in the Super League playoffs/finals series, with Ryan Hall, and Kallum Watkins a part of the Leeds Rhinos championship-winning team in 2017.

You sense England really need to get off to a fast start in this Rugby League World Cup by defeating Australia in the opening match of the tournament if they want to give themselves the best chance to win their first Rugby League World Cup (fourth if you count the three that Great Britain have won).

Probably the only other team outside of Australia, England, New Zealand, and Tonga that could potentially challenge for the trophy is Samoa, and they are flying underneath the radar beautifully with a very good squad, but due to a few players missing due to injury, they are probably the underdogs of Group B, along with Scotland.

Fiji will also be competitive, as well as Papua New Guinea, but you sense the quarter-finals is as far as they can go this time.

In terms of predicting who will the groups, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and of course the final, this is how I think it will go.

 

GROUP STAGES

GROUP A

1. Australia

2. England

3. France

4. Lebanon

GROUP B

1. New Zealand

2. Tonga

3. Samoa

4. Scotland

GROUP C

1. Papua New Guinea

2. Ireland

3. Wales

GROUP D

1. Fiji

2. Italy

3. United States

 

QUARTER-FINAL MATCH-UPS

Australia vs. Samoa

Tonga vs. Fiji

New Zealand vs. France

England vs. Papua New Guinea

 

SEMI-FINAL MATCH-UPS

Australia vs. Tonga

New Zealand vs. England

 

WORLD CUP FINAL MATCH-UP

Australia vs. New Zealand

 

WORLD CHAMPIONS

Australia

 

My thoughts on the NRL salary cap debacle

The salary cap and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) has been a hot talking point in the National Rugby League (NRL), and while the clubs and the NRL themselves have agreed to having a salary cap of $9.4 million salary cap ($9.2 base salary cap, plus $200,000 for long serving and development players), the players are not willing to agree to offer being laid down to them.

The major sticking point for the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA), who are representing the players in these negotiations is the CBA itself, rather than the proposed salary cap of $9.4 million, with a number of current players, including Melbourne Storm, Queensland, and Australian captain Cameron Smith being involved in the negotiations between themselves and the NRL.

However, the growing worry for the NRL, and more importantly, the game of rugby league, is that the players within the NRL may decide to boycott a number of events, including the Dally M Awards, and more concerning, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

This is all due to the possible fact that the players may not be able to agree to the terms to the CBA of $1 billion that the NRL has offered them due to the RLPA wanting to clarify a number of issues within the CBA.

Looking at this, one of the things that may be affecting the CBA is the money coming from the broadcast rights, particular the television broadcast rights.

The players it seems, from the outside looking in, do not believe that they are getting the level of money that they deserve. However, what I don’t think the players understand is the complicated issue with media organisations and television networks in Australia, who are not willing to pay beyond their means for live premium sporting content, such as the NRL, meaning that the players may not be getting the amount of money overall in their CBA as they were expecting.

This is something that I touched upon when looking at the recent pay dispute between Cricket Australia, and the Australian Cricketers Association, which has been resolved, in regards to the Nine Network, who also have the free-to-air rights of the NRL, not willing to spend beyond their means to gain live premium sporting content.

It is a similar story for the Seven Network, who have the rights for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, in regards to their spending ability for live premium sporting content, while Network Ten face an uncertain future due to their mass financial and ownership issues, which will likely see them lose the rights to the Big Bash League at the end of this coming season.

And, because of the increased technology in the ways you can watch live sport, and in this case rugby league, means that the radio broadcasting rights are not worth as much as what they were in the past, which would also contribute to the amount of money within the CBA not being as great as the players would want.

However, what is of greater concern is the possible boycott of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup from NRL players, something which must have the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) extremely concerned, and potentially very angry indeed, considering the amount of traction the international game has gained since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

If the players in the NRL were to boycott the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, they could potentially face huge punishments from the RLIF, especially in terms of not being allowed to play international rugby league for essentially bringing the game of rugby league into disrepute, and it could result in the failure of international rugby league in a broader sense.

I hope that the pay dispute in the NRL doesn’t come to this, but it could well happen, and it would be an absolute travesty for the game of rugby league.

And, if the boycott does happen, I would be considering massive bans, and fines, if I was the RLIF, to players involved in the strike as a way of showing that no one group is bigger than the game, and that they must show the game the utmost respect.

2017 NRL season – The run home

We are heading into the business rounds of the 2017 National Rugby League (NRL) season, and there are a number of teams who are queuing up for a shot at premiership glory.

After making my predictions before the season, and at the halfway mark of the season (Part One, Part Two), it is time to make some more predictions as we head ever closer to the finals as to where your team will finish in 2017.

 

Melbourne Storm (currently first on 30 points, +120 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: First on 42 points, +164 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Third)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Canberra Raiders Loss by 6

Round 21: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 6

Round 22: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 6

Round 23: Sydney Roosters Win by 2

Round 24: Newcastle Knights Win by 18

Round 25: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 12

Round 26: Canberra Raiders Win by 6

My thoughts

The Melbourne Storm continue to amaze in so many ways, and I think from this position, they will win their second-successive minor premiership. The only match out of their last seven regular season matches I predict they will lose will be this week against the inspired and desperate Canberra Raiders, and will march into the finals on the back of six straight wins, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

In the finals series, the Storm will win their seventh match in a row against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Week One to move straight through to the preliminary finals. However, they will suffer a shock loss at home against the Raiders to crash out of the finals one win short of a second-successive grand final appearance.

 

Sydney Roosters (currently second on 28 points, +53 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Third on 38 points, +100 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Fifth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Newcastle Knights Win by 12

Round 21: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 8

Round 22: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

Round 23: Melbourne Storm Loss by 2

Round 24: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 25: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

Round 26: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

My thoughts

The Sydney Roosters are a completely different team in 2017 compared to 2016, and while I don’t think they are quite as good as the team that won the premiership in 2013, and the minor premiership in 2013, 2014, and 2015, they should comfortably make the top four, despite a couple of hiccups in Round 22 and 23 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm.

However, the Roosters will lose in Week One of the finals against the Brisbane Broncos in an absolute thriller, before being shocked in Week Two against the Canberra Raiders to go out in straight sets.

 

Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (currently third on 26 points, +87 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Fourth on 34 points, +98 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Sixth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 2

Round 21: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

Round 22: Sydney Roosters Win by 2

Round 23: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 24: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 1

Round 25: New Zealand Warriors Loss by 6

Round 26: Penrith Panthers Win by 2

My thoughts

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have proven everyone wrong, including myself, and should comfortably cruise into the finals, and likely finish inside the top four, despite losses against the Melbourne Storm, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and the New Zealand Warriors during the final seven rounds.

However, the Sea Eagles fantastic season will come to an end after Week Two of the finals after losing to the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys.

 

Brisbane Broncos (currently fourth on 26 points, +68 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Second on 40 points, +142 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Premiers)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 12

Round 21: Parramatta Eels Win by 6

Round 22: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

Round 23: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 8

Round 24: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 18

Round 25: Parramatta Eels Win by 12

Round 26: North Queensland Cowboys Win by 6

My thoughts

The Brisbane Broncos have been my pick to win the premiership in 2017, and while I think they will just miss out on the minor premiership, they will finish inside the Top Two after winning their final eight matches of the regular season, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

In the finals, the Broncos will defeat the Sydney Roosters in a classic to qualify for a preliminary final, where they will defeat their great rivals, the North Queensland Cowboys, to qualify for their second grand final in three years.

They will meet the Canberra Raiders in the grand final, and in a tightly-fought contest, the Broncos will claim their sixth premiership in a unified competition (seventh if you include Super League), which would be their first premiership in 11 years, after completing an 11 match winning streak, and complete the ultimate redemption story after losing the 2015 NRL Grand Final against the Cowboys in extraordinary circumstances.

 

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (currently fifth on 26 points, +65 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 10th on 28 points, +48 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 21: New Zealand Warriors Loss by 2

Round 22: Canberra Raiders Loss by 1

Round 23: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 8

Round 24: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 6

Round 25: Sydney Roosters Loss by 1

Round 26: Newcastle Knights Loss by 1

My thoughts

The defending premiers currently sit fifth on the competition ladder, and while many people think the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks have a great chance of going back-to-back, I am predicting them to have a great fall, losing their last six matches, which would be their longest losing streak of season, including a two-point loss against the New Zealand Warriors, plus one-point losses against the Canberra Raiders, Sydney Roosters, and the Newcastle Knights to miss the Top Eight on points differential, and become the first defending premiers (excluding salary cap penalties) to miss the finals since the Wests Tigers back in 2006.

 

North Queensland Cowboys (currently sixth on 26 points, +56 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Fifth on 34 points, +68 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Fourth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: New Zealand Warriors Win by 18

Round 21: Sydney Roosters Loss by 8

Round 22: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

Round 23: Penrith Panthers Win by 2

Round 24: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 6

Round 25: Wests Tigers Win by 6

Round 26: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 6

My thoughts

The North Queensland Cowboys, in the absence of co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, are proving how strong their club is, and despite some close losses in the final seven rounds against the Sydney Roosters, Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos, they will comfortably make the finals for the seventh year in a row.

In the finals, the Cowboys will defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons in Week One, before defeating the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Week Two to set up another blockbuster against the Brisbane Broncos, where their finals run will come to an end.

 

Parramatta Eels (currently seventh on 24 points, -19 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Seventh on 30 points, -15 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Seventh)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Wests Tigers Win by 12

Round 21: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 6

Round 22: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 2

Round 23: Newcastle Knights Win by 12

Round 24: Gold Coast Titans Win by 2

Round 25: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 26: South Sydney Rabbitohs Loss by 2

My thoughts

The Parramatta Eels have comprehensively proven me wrong, and while on paper they look to have one of the easiest runs home, they will only win three of their last seven matches, including their last two to scrape into finals in seventh position, and with a negative points differential.

The Eels will then suffer a Week One exit at the hands of the Canberra Raiders.

 

St George Illawarra Dragons (currently eighth on 22 points, +52 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Eighth on 28 points, +55 differential, 112.7 percent)

(My predicted finals finish: Eighth)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

Round 21: Newcastle Knights Loss by 2

Round 22: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 23: Gold Coast Titans Win by 6

Round 24: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 18

Round 25: Penrith Panthers Loss by 1

Round 26: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 18

My thoughts

In recent weeks, the St George Illawarra Dragons have been struggling, winning only one of their last four, including losing their last two matches, and while I think that losing streak will stretch out to four matches, I believe the Dragons will win three out of their last five matches, including their Round 26 encounter against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to be tied on the same amount of competition points, as well as on points differential with the Penrith Panthers.

However, the superior defence of the Dragons throughout 2017 will see them qualify for the finals in eighth position on percentage.

Despite making the finals, their stay in September will be short-lived, losing to the North Queensland Cowboys in Week One of the finals.

 

Penrith Panthers (currently ninth on 20 points, +21 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Ninth on 28 points, +55 differential, 111.8 percent)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Gold Coast Titans Win by 12

Round 21: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Win by 8

Round 22: Wests Tigers Win by 18

Round 23: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 2

Round 24: Canberra Raiders Loss by 1

Round 25: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 1

Round 26: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 2

My thoughts

The Penrith Panthers have started to find some momentum in 2017 after a difficult start, winning their last two matches. I think they will win their next three matches to extend their winning streak to five, which would be their longest winning streak of the season.

However, the Panthers will lose three of their last four matches to finish equal with the St George Illawarra Dragons, both on competition points and on points differential, and despite the strong attack of the Panthers, the superior defence of the Dragons will see the Panthers miss out on the finals in heartbreaking circumstances.

 

Canberra Raiders (currently 10th on 18 points, +27 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: Sixth on 30 points, +59 differential)

(My predicted finals finish: Grand Finalists)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Melbourne Storm Win by 6

Round 21: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 12

Round 22: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

Round 23: New Zealand Warriors Win by 12

Round 24: Penrith Panthers Win by 1

Round 25: Newcastle Knights Win by 6

Round 26: Melbourne Storm Loss by 6

My thoughts

The Canberra Raiders have had difficult year so far in 2017, winning only seven out of their 17 matches, which has surprised most who tipped them to be premiership contenders, including myself. However, their golden point victory in Round 19 against the St George Illawarra Dragons, inspired by their halfback Aidan Sezer not only ended a four match losing streak, I think it will inspire them into a great run of form.

The Raiders will complete a seven match winning streak, which would be their longest of the season, to qualify for the finals in sixth position, with the only match they will lose in the regular season run home being against the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park.

Once in the finals, the Raiders will win three-straight matches against the Parramatta Eels, Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm to qualify for their first grand final since 1994.

However, in a tight contest, the Raiders will fall just short against the Brisbane Broncos in their quest to win their first premiership since 1994.

 

New Zealand Warriors (currently 11th on 18 points, -38 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 12th on 22 points, -92 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 18

Round 21: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 2

Round 22: Newcastle Knights Loss by 6

Round 23: Canberra Raiders Loss by 12

Round 24: South Sydney Rabbitohs Loss by 8

Round 25: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 6

Round 26: Wests Tigers Loss by 18

My thoughts

The New Zealand Warriors are the greatest underachievers this competition has ever seen, and with the injury to Shaun Johnson, you can’t see the Warriors shrugging off this tag anytime soon, and will miss the finals for the sixth year in a row.

The Warriors will lose seven out of their last nine matches, including four of their last five to comfortably miss the finals once again.

 

Gold Coast Titans (currently 12th on 18 points, -42 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 14th on 20 points, -75 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Penrith Panthers Loss by 12

Round 21: Wests Tigers Win by 12

Round 22: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 23: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 6

Round 24: Parramatta Eels Loss by 2

Round 25: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 1

Round 26: Sydney Roosters Loss by 12

My thoughts

The Gold Coast Titans, despite their injuries, have put up a respectable record of seven wins from 17 matches, and despite the strong and consistent they have put in, I think they are about to fall away from any realistic contention.

The Titans will lose six of their last seven matches, including their last five, which would be their longest losing streak of the season, to finish 2017 in 14th position.

 

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (currently 13th on 18 points, -59 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 11th on 26 points, -91 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Brisbane Broncos Loss by 12

Round 21: Penrith Panthers Loss by 8

Round 22: Parramatta Eels Win by 2

Round 23: South Sydney Rabbitohs Win by 2

Round 24: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Win by 1

Round 25: Gold Coast Titans Win by 1

Round 26: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 18

My thoughts

The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are going to miss the finals, and if they do miss the finals, they will become the first Des Hasler-coached club to miss the finals since 2004.

The Bulldogs will lose their next two matches, before going on a four-match winning streak, which would be their longest winning streak of the season, as their finals hopes hang by a thread.

However, despite this winning run, other results go against them, leaving them with an unrealistic task to make the finals against the St George Illawarra Dragons as their season collapses in a heap.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs (currently 14th on 16 points, -42 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 13th on 20 points, -62 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Loss by 2

Round 21: Canberra Raiders Loss by 12

Round 22: St George Illawarra Dragons Loss by 2

Round 23: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Loss by 2

Round 24: New Zealand Warriors Win by 8

Round 25: Melbourne Storm Loss by 12

Round 26: Parramatta Eels Win by 2

My thoughts

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have shown signs of life at some points of the season, but have shown signs of inconsistency, and I think they will fall away during the last seven matches of the season.

In fact, the Rabbitohs will lose their next four to complete a six-match losing streak, which would be their longest of the season, and will lose seven out of their last nine matches to finish in 13th position.

 

Wests Tigers (currently 15th on 12 points, -169 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 16th on 14 points, -235 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Parramatta Eels Loss by 12

Round 21: Gold Coast Titans Loss by 12

Round 22: Penrith Panthers Loss by 18

Round 23: Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Loss by 18

Round 24: Sydney Roosters Loss by 18

Round 25: North Queensland Cowboys Loss by 6

Round 26: New Zealand Warriors Win by 18

My thoughts

I think the Wests Tigers will claim the wooden spoon after a tumultuous year. They will complete a seven-match losing streak in Round 25 against the North Queensland Cowboys, which would be their equal-longest of the year, before winning their last match of 2017 against the New Zealand Warriors.

 

Newcastle Knights (currently 16th on eight points, -180 differential)

(My predicted regular season finish: 15th on 14 points, -219 differential)

Remaining matches

Round 20: Sydney Roosters Loss by 12

Round 21: St George Illawarra Dragons Win by 2

Round 22: New Zealand Warriors Win by 6

Round 23: Parramatta Eels Loss by 12

Round 24: Melbourne Storm Loss by 18

Round 25: Canberra Raiders Loss by 6

Round 26: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Win by 1

My thoughts

Many experts have already pencilled in the Newcastle Knights to win the wooden spoon, and many people would agree with them.

However, although I think the Knights will complete an eight-match losing streak against the Sydney Roosters, which would be their longest in 2017, they will win three of their last six matches, including knocking out the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks from finals contention to avoid the wooden spoon on points differential.

 

My review of the 2017 State Of Origin series

Queensland have done it again!

The Maroons have won their 11th State Of Origin series in 12 years by defeating New South Wales by 22-6 in front of a record crowd of 52,540 people at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Coming into the series, many people thought the Blues were a massive chance of ending Queensland’s dominant run, and after a 28-4 victory in Game One at Suncorp Stadium, many more people were convinced that New South Wales could claim just their second series victory in 12 years.

And, despite suffering an earth-shattering 18-16 loss in Game Two at ANZ Stadium, and the criticism of the Blues second half performance, many experts still thought New South Wales could still win the series, especially when Johnathan Thurston was ruled out of Game Three for the Maroons after producing one of the most courageous performances of all-time, after severely injuring his shoulder early in the match, but played the entire match without showing too much of the effects of the injury, kicking the winning conversion attempt to see Queensland home.

However, despite the ongoing optimism surrounding the Blues heading into Game Three, they just could not deliver! Why?

To work out why New South Wales have lost their 11th State Of Origin series in 12 years, we need to look at the long-term set-up of both the Maroons and the Blues to establish the differences between the two states.

Back in 2006, the great Mal Meninga became the coach of Queensland, and while most people see the role of a head coach as coaching and managing the playing staff of a sporting team, Meninga saw the role of coaching the Maroons, the team that he once represented on a total of 32 occasions in State Of Origin, as a role much greater than coaching the team itself.

Meninga wanted to create a culture that made whoever was selected not only better players, but better people. He wanted the players to understand the past, understand the history of the team and the state, the history of the people who came before the current group, how they came to being a Queensland player, what they were willing to sacrifice, how desperate the players of the past were to win and give their absolute best for the Maroons to get the players of the modern era to understand that they had a tradition to uphold, and that they couldn’t afford to let their mates, their families and their state down to such a level that it spurred them onto such a level of dominance over New South Wales that is unparalleled in the history of the game that level.

Meninga also controlled the people that he allowed into the team set-up, and he didn’t want anyone who could, and possibly would ruin the set-up of what he created, but also what the state created in the years before today.

Meninga is now doing the same with the Australian rugby league team.

However, New South Wales has not been able to match their fierce rivals as far as this is concerned, and the Blues have copped a lot of criticism as a result.

Andrew Johns, who played 23 times for the Blues, has been by far the most scathing in his critique of the team, and of its culture, explaining on the post-match coverage on Nine’s Wide World Of Sports that the New South Wales team don’t get it, and don’t understand what it takes to win at this level.

The coach of New South Wales, Laurie Daley, has also played 23 times for New South Wales, and has won 13 games as a player, the same as Johns.

So, what can Johns see that Daley can’t to get New South Wales inspired to win?

Vision.

Johns, like Meninga, has a rare gift that not too many people in any walk of life have.

He knows within himself what it takes to achieve success, and he knows what he wants to put in place, and where he wants to place the puzzle pieces, and how he wants everything to be organised, and he wants it organised exactly the way that he likes it.

However, most people, whether that is in sport, the media, or even in another industry struggle to get these kind of people, but the organisations who have embraced these kind of people, and keep asking them to be involved over a long period of time have had a huge amount of success.

Daley is a great role model, and a great contributor to rugby league in New South Wales, he doesn’t have vision in the same way as Johns does. Johns, while he can ruffle a few feathers if you don’t treat him in the right way, he always has everyone’s best interests in his mind.

Johns has the best interests of the Blues in what he is saying and how he is speaking!

Sadly, most people across rugby league in New South Wales across all levels of the game, including the media, simply do not get it!

And, for the entire game of rugby league, that is just sickening!

 

And another thing

I hope you enjoying reading my previews of Game One, Game Two, and Game Three, which were published on The Roar!