Salt in the wound.
The Chookpen was in full flight from the start in one of the better atmospheres this writer has experienced — and he was nestled in bay 30.
They needed to be to drown out at least one fan seated right behind this writer.
All game I and the fans around me had to listen to an obnoxious twat sitting by his lonesome in the Roosters’ fans area wearing short gym shorts and a Knights jersey.
He looked like he was knuckles deep in his first bag of coke and was swearing like Scarface, telling all us Roosters fans to sit down whenever we had the nerve to cheer a break. It wouldn’t be an issue but he ruined the game for everyone around him — which was probably his intention from the get-go.
To him I say: go fuck yourself, champ. I hope the comedown was fun, especially after a loss.
But I digress.
The award goes without contest to Joey Leilua, whose petulant displays in the past two weeks are a firm reminder of why he was punted from this proud club at the start of the year.
Last week he ran over to pontificate over a guy with a broken jaw. This week, he said something to SBW who normally doesn’t strike out despite his reputation but felt the need on this occasion. He then scored a late try, stood up, looked down and walked over Shaun Kenny-Dowall like the Undertaker over the top rope.
It was 34-4 at the time.
The Knights should be known as the team of proud warriors such as Danny Buderus — whose career signed off in the saddest way possible for one of the game’s true gentlemen and one of its toughest ever players — and Jarrod Mullen, who possesses a tonne of ability and is a great role model for up-and-coming Novacastrians.
Instead, Leilua leaves this writer with the wrong impression of the team’s values, and that’s a shame. This kid has all the ability in the world but is set for a career bouncing from club to club if his attitude is an indicator.
A full strength Grand Final amid the call for anti-Grand Final Parties. Please.
Luke O’Donnell now has seven days to recover from a hamstring injury which forced him out at the last minute, while Boyd Cordner looks set to be named. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves also avoided suspension after some in the media speculated he might have a case to answer following Buderus’ injury, but he was not even charged.
Yes, I am as shocked as you are: JWH got the benefit of the doubt?
Michael Jennings was cited for an attempted trip when he flung a leg out to bring down Akuila Uate but missed. With the early guilty plea, he’ll play this week.
The Roosters will potentially be at full strength for the first time since Round 16, and it comes at the absolute perfect time as they face a club that welcomed back their ball-playing fullback to great effect on Friday and who will have had eight days’ rest before the Grand Final — a rest they desperately needed.
Meanwhile, Glenn Stewart will not miss the game with an early guilty plea for his high tackle on Sam Burgess, meaing they will be without just Jason King potentially for this clash.
The Roosters themselves will have had seven full days off and the rest will be needed in what many are anticipating will be one of the toughest Grand Finals of the past 10 years. These two teams played themselves to a halt on week one, with many players visibly stuffed during the game. They both threw everything they had at each other and the Roosters earned the week off while the Sea Eagles struggled to a hard-fought victory over Cronulla, their players left with nothing in the tank after using all their fuel a week earlier.
This is how you want a Grand Final: two near-full strength teams battling it out. Teams ranked one and two in both attack and defence. Teams which were separated by no more than 12 points in a game this season; two teams that couldn’t score any more than 18 points against each other.
This is some old school shit and potentially one of the most even matchups the game has seen.
So here is an open letter to those fuckwits that are proposing “anti-NRL grand final parties”:
If you don’t want to watch this game, it’s your loss. We won’t give a shit, and I feel I can speak for Manly fans on this.
Enjoy the hangover from a party borne of spite and petty jealousies. One of these fanbases is about to revel in something you cannot: a premiership.
Enjoy Mad Monday.
Roosters and Manly fans.
Comparisons to 2002-04, and 2010. Who will be our new-age Freddy?
This team is a far better squad than the one that went down to St George in 2010. They are better coached and have eight players from that team who have improved in the time since — the two Mitchs, Guerra, JWH, Friend, SKD (at least defensively), FPN and Marty Kennedy.
They’ve added three superstars (SBW, Jenko and the BBQ to replace Braith and Todd Carney) and have a coach that WON’T start Lopini Paea in the biggest match of the year. So that’s not a debate.
Whether we are better than the 2002-04 era squad remains to be seen — they need to win the premiership to do that — but on paper they have the more talented squad.
JWH is almost the equal of Adrian Morley, Friend is more dangerous than Bonetti, Moa is better than Cayless, Pearce is a more natural half than Wing, the centres are better defensively and in attack than Hegarty and a young Hodges; the list goes on.
But the 2002-04 team had God incarnate playing the number six. For this Roosters squad to lift the premiership, they need a Freddy impersonator: someone who ill put on the big hit or make the big play (like Freddy’s 40/20).
They need a superstar who can do things no others can.
They have that player in Sonny Bill Williams. But to reach that level of reverence among Roosters faithful — and it’s rarified air, so there is no shame in not reaching it — he needs to be the player to turn the game on its head and help the club lift the trophy.
The Roosters finished 13th last year. If Sonny Bill is truly someone driven by accomplishments, there will be none bigger than helping this club turn around an era of mediocrity in the space of 30 weeks to lift the trophy in front of the faithful.
But whatever happens on Sunday and in the offseason, Sonny, thanks from all of us for the ride of a lifetime.
Match stats per the Sydney Morning Herald (click to enlarge):