Diary of a win-deprived Blues fan

287300-5cbe5444-f6ed-11e3-8ea9-a081f3513119By Jack Brady

Nothing could wipe the smile off my face.

Sitting there with 80,000 others in ANZ Stadium watching Trent Hodkinson cross for the one and only try in the match I just couldn’t help myself.

No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t prevent myself celebrating the Blues success – notepad and pen in hand.

I looked to the left of me and watched the famous Blatchy’s Blues go deservingly crazy.

I watch grown men and women go bezerk and children not quite grasp the seriousness of what exactly was happening.

At this point in time everyone bled blue.

Mere minutes later,  Jarryd Hayne breaks down in tears, Beau Scott jumps into the crowd and Paul Gallen lifts both fists in the air and gives a glorious running hug to Laurie Daley.

The momentous occasion had become apparent. The win and series had been secured.

Victory thy name is New South Wales.

Yet who would have thought it would be Hodkinson that would win the series for the Blues?

I mean, I couldn’t even pronounce his name properly a month ago yet now he has etched his name in my heart forever.

Growing up in an era where Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler, Trent Barrett and Craig Gower reigned supreme who could’ve imagined that a man who was kept out of the Bulldogs run to the grand final two years ago (because of Kris Keating of all people) would win us the series?

Going through high school and university with zero Blues wins to boast about was bad enough especially with bandwagon Queensland supporters constantly reminding you about it every step of the way.

Just think if Mitchell Pearce decided to stay at home on that ill-fated night then who knows where we might be right now.

We might feel bad about the situation but happiness soon consumes us when we realise that victory is finally ours!

While a hint of sadness dawns on me that my beloved Newcastle Knights have won the same amount of games as the Blues this season, I’m happy to take any win I can get my hands on.

At the end of the day social media doesn’t know what has hit it and who can blame us?

It’s been a long, long time coming.

With a hint of irony and a major sense of relief we can finally boast as tongue-in-cheek as it may be – #oneinarow.

Go the Blues!


Can We Really Blame CM Punk?

By Jack Brady


News broke overnight that CM Punk has at this point of time walked away from all WWE duties. Pulled from every upcoming house show and tour it seems that Punk, real name Phil Brooks, has indeed left the WWE.  Reports suggest that Punk told Vince McMahon that he was “going home” after arriving at Monday Night Raw earlier this week.

While we’ve seen the whole Punk vs. the Authority storyline previously with him [kayfabe] quitting, this seems to be a whole different ball game. Clearly the final straw came on the weekend when, after a four year absence, Batista won the 2014 Royal Rumble Match.

Punk is one of the biggest stars in wrestling today and he knows that. Punk should undoubtedly factor into the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at Wrestlemania XXX, yet the dirt sheets are telling us that Punk is instead in line to face Triple H– a man still trying to keep a stranglehold on his glory days.

Here we have a Championship match that is pitting two former allies up against one another – Batista, an almost 50 year-old, out-of-touch wrestler against the champion, Randy Orton.  Sadly for wrestlers like Punk and the incredibly over Daniel Bryan – old school sentiment trumps today’s stars come this time of the year.

You only have to look at the rumoured matches at Wrestlemania and alleged upcoming returns to know that this sentiment towards wrestlers of decades past is severely affecting the future of the company. Alongside Batista, Brock Lesnar, Rob Van Dam and Triple H trying to remain relevant, there are rumours rife that Hulk Hogan and Sting will be with the company in the coming weeks and that Ryback may be slated to face the Ultimate Warrior – a man who hasn’t laced up the boots since 2008 – at Wrestlemania XXX.

In today’s age of wrestling we should be seeing wrestler’s like Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow and Kofi Kingston soar to new heights. Not even established tag teams the Real Americans and The Usos can escape the old school sentiment at the moment given that the 40 year-old New Age Outlaws won their first Tag Team Titles in 15 years on the weekend.

So, can we really blame CM Punk for leaving?

Not at all.

Hopefully this serves as a wakeup call for the WWE.

Think before you tweet

By Jack Brady

More often than not nowadays when you look at the back of a newspaper there is bound to be some sort of sporting controversy splashed across the page.

Sex, drugs, assaults, brawls, racism and common indecency – the National Rugby League specifically has faced it all in recent times.

A new phenomenon of controversy though has made itself prevalent lately in the form of the spoken word or the haphazard uploading of images on social media – where rugby league players are making a name for themselves for all the wrong reasons.

Instances like New South Wales and Wests Tigers captain Robbie Farah suggesting to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard that she should consider buying a noose for her birthday or Josh Dugan losing his Canberra Raiders contract and the punters respect for a myriad of reasons involving social media has essentially led to tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook statuses becoming news.

In an era where NRL clubs are continuously warn their players of the pitfalls of social media, the question is – is it fair that personal thoughts of individuals should be spun into back page news or should players, in their privileged positions as role models in society become accountable for their actions?

Retired Parramatta, New South Wales and Australian Kangaroos representative Eric Grothe Jr. believes at the end of the day it all comes down to the individual, believing those who use social media need to be accountable for their actions. Grothe, who has since signaled his intentions to return to the NRL next season, attributes his use of social media as a way to connect with the masses of people he never meets.

“I never put anything on social media that I’m not willing to back up. In case I put something up there and it got in newspaper the next day and people were saying, ‘why did you tweet that?’ Everything is pre-thought with me. I don’t just blindly tweet things,” Grothe said.

“It comes down to how the individual feels about what they put out there on Twitter. Personally, I probably look at more things than not and cringe about what people put out. I don’t think some people realise until they actually send it and see the reaction, and what big a mistake some of the things they tweet or put on Facebook can make.

“One of the best pieces of advice you could give someone I reckon is when you’ve had a few drinks – put your phone away. It’s probably the smartest thing to do. Try and ask yourself is this going to be regretted in the morning, if so, don’t do it. You have to be accountable… if you put things out there in the world for people to see you have to expect the repercussions.”

Grothe isn’t fazed about the current media landscape’s use of social media interactions as news either or as he puts it “off the back of something tweeted from a footballer that’s stuffed up”.

“[Back when he played] there were programs where people would come around and show you what to and what not to do on social media. It’s pretty much common sense with me – I just never get to personal or never get to deep on there, I don’t see it as diary for everyone to read,” Grothe said.

“With the Josh Dugan stuff, for example, he has to be open to it if he’s going to put photos up or if anyone is going to put photos up of them with their shirts off, drinking drinks and doing gang signs, they have to be ready for it to be in the newspaper nowadays – it’s just the way it is.”

So much of an influence that social media has had on the reporting of rugby league and the NRL in the media that up-and-coming and recently graduated journalists are beginning to add social media experience to their journalistic arsenal.

Ricardo Ascenso, for example, recently graduated from Sydney’s Macleay College, has racked up a social media repertoire that others can only dream off.  For those not savvy with his achievements, Ascenso runs the ever so popular @NRLNEWS Twitter handle. The most popular unofficial news account dedicated to the National Rugby League, an account followed by over 23,000 individuals.

“@NRL_NEWS was basically all part of that process I guess to just get involved in anything to do with the media and social media side being that’s what it is basically about these days. It was kind of the first step… to eventually go into more exciting things,” Ascenso said.

“To be honest, when I first started taking over it all I was expecting a couple of thousand [followers] tops if that. For it to get to 23000, I’m pretty sure it’s the single biggest amount of followers for an independent NRL news account on twitter and that’s awesome. It wasn’t really anything that I would’ve been expecting when it all started up.”

Boosting an impressive social media resume appears to be an important aspect to Ascenso’s future success considering his thoughts on social media in the realm of journalism.

“Nowadays media can’t exist without social media. I guess I sort of just started doing it [@NRLNEWS] because you could kind of see where things were heading,” Ascenso said.

“In some aspects, online media has probably and will continue to overtake the newspaper sort of stuff. There’s always a place for the written side of things when it comes to newspapers and magazines and I think in how they’re presented is basically down to interpretation and how someone sees the effect that one has on the other.

“Things break on social media quicker these days then they do on any other media because it’s right there and accessible so really if you wanted to you could say it is the fault of media these days because the minute something happens it’s on social media before anywhere else.”

With Twitter handles, like Ascenso’s and unofficial NRL blogs becoming increasingly common it appears in some instances it is up to the club to educate those they employ, the players. If ever a club was to be diligent in the face of controversies surrounding social media and the aftermath of it played out on a grander scale then the Newcastle Knights are trying their absolute hardest to avoid such things.

Former Newcastle Knights first-grade player, Marvin Karawana is proof that such lectures on social media etiquette are working. That accountability, in light of the ever present forms of online and social media’s continued growth, is a lesson that appears to have stuck solid with most players upon hearing what their club has to say about matters concerned with social media.

While he may have retired from the NRL back in 2011, Karawana, who played 34 games for the Newcastle Knights over five years, describes his social media use as casual thing to do but understands that it is just another aspect of being responsible in the public eye.

“We had people that the NRL had organised to come in and speak to us as a group on the dangers of social media. Personally, I think it’s just common sense that if you are going to be on a social networking platform then you should know that certain things you put out there could get you into trouble… the people who came in to speak to us reiterated all of the dangers and things not to do,” Karawana said.

“[Players] just need to think what they are about to post before they do it. If you think it is going to be something that could get you in trouble, then either don’t post it or ask somebody else before you do. I think it can be a good thing for a player [though], as long as they are responsible and think about things before they post.”

Ironically, Karawana, who noted that if he had a few spare minutes during the day he would read through his Twitter timeline to see if there is any news going on, isn’t a fan of news being produced from social media occurrences.

“People just have to accept how things are now, and that if they are saying things or posting pictures on a public forum, then anybody can see it and it could end up in the newspapers,” Karawana said.

On the same note, James Elias, a current reserve-grade player for the Knights, resonates with the same lessons learnt by Karawana during his time at the club. Elias, unlike a lot of players, is not on Twitter but still understands the pitfalls involved on other platforms of social media.

“They [Newcastle Knights] do social media sessions every year, one or two sessions just before pre-season. It’s more like a lecture, a lecture where they just hammer everything into you about what they expect from you and what not to put up in social media,” Elias said.

“They give you advice to obviously watch what you put up on Facebook and all that sort of stuff. Putting photos up of you in Knights clothing – you’re not allowed to do it. Make sure what you’re putting up isn’t rude or isn’t going to bring the club into disrepute.

“When they do have instances through the season, like the Josh Dugan stuff, they’ll bring us in and talk about it and highlight why it’s a good idea not to put stuff like that on social media.”

So what has Elias taking from his time in the lectures involving social media etiquette?

“I definitely try and keep everything I have on the internet at a minimum and write stuff that isn’t out there. I keep it generic. Even if I wasn’t a football player, I would definitely keep as much personal details as possible off social media,” Elias said.

“If you’re putting yourself out there by saying all that sort of crap like Josh Dugan was… well then you know he pretty much deserved it. I think there’s a certain line you cross. It comes back to an individual being accountable.”

Accountability is a word that has been mentioned a lot. As social media grows and expands into news media, such stories are going to come from these platforms if a rugby league player isn’t careful.  Nicholas Janzen, a journalist at Big League and NRL.com, believes that social media use is the same as driving a car or walking the streets or doing anything else that requires some level of responsibility in society.

“There’s a proper way to use it and there’s an improper way to use. Obviously some people take time to understand how to use it correctly… people have lived and learned and suffered consequences from what they’ve said on social media,” Janzen said.

“At the end of the day, you are essentially saying these things and they can still be used in a court of law, they’re still potentially defamatory these comments… and people need to think before they say things and type things.”

As for its role in journalism, Janzen believes that while it is useful it is not an imperative when it comes to the profession.

“It’s [Social Media] a great tool to undertake research because you can immediately delve into the thoughts and beliefs of your subject without even getting dressed. On the whole it is a supplementary tool that can help you shape your article and help you on the path to help you researching the subject… and educating your audience,” said Janzen.

While his tweets may be news-oriented, Janzen insists this is because of the privileged position he finds himself in within his role as a journalist.

“If on the off chance I receive a press release and I’m in front of a computer and having a look at Twitter and I know that I’m going to be one of the first few people to reveal something I’ll happily pop it up there. It’s just a way of giving people news first and allowing the pure facts to get out there straight away.”

We may have dismissed those who said social media was going to affect journalism but now no matter which way you look at, whether from a rugby league perspective or in a general news sense, social media is only going to continue its expansion into journalism – whether we like it or not.

As social media expands, accountability has perhaps become nothing but necessary.

Who really cares about the modern day KKK?

Kanye & Kim: We’re laughing at you, not with you

By Erratic Eddy

You’re reading this because you thought I was supporting the KKK movement, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacy. Let’s make it clear, I definitely do NOT support the Ku Klux Klan.

The modern day KKK phenomenon that I’m talking about is the latest craze over Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s new baby, whose name supposedly begins with K as well. Whoop-de-doo!

This KKK phenomenon brings two questions to mind:

  1. Why is this news? And;
  2. Why do people care so much?

I don’t care for the Kardashians. They’re famous for being famous and their show is beyond terrible. Kanye, ironically, got himself a gold digger.

However, don’t think for a second I am blaming this phenomenon on Kanye and Kim. It is the trash media of today that presupposes that society wants to read it. The only purpose trash media serves in my life is making the wait in the doctor’s surgery lounge less boring.

Trash media must think I care about what’s happening at Buckingham Palace, who man-whore John Mayer is sexting now and which poor bastard Taylor Swift is writing a song about on her next album. The worst thing about it is that many people absolutely love it.

Is it to pass the time and escape the boring lives of your own? Probably. Yet surely there are other avenues of escaping your day-to-day life then checking up on Jennifer Aniston’s biological clock every week.

Maybe, just maybe, you could watch the real news and get a real view of the world.

Then again, you’re probably too busy watching Jersey Shore to even read this.

2013 NRL Season Preview: Melbourne Storm

By Brady Foray Writers

If there’s one thing the Melbourne Storm proved in 2012 it was that they are in fact human…and they still won the competition. Starting the year all guns blazing, winning their first nine games, their year turned sour quickly following their second bye and the end of the State of Origin series. With Billy Slater injured the club lost five games in a row, something unheard from a Melbourne side over the past couple of years. Though as soon as their bearings were established, with a rampant performance over Penrith in Round 22, Melbourne wouldn’t lose again in 2012.

While Dane Nielson, Sika Manu, Richie Fa’aoso, Rory Kostjasyn, Todd Lowrie, Jaiman Lowe and Anthony Quinn have moved on, the club has a knack of filling these gaps quickly and moving past any deficit in the squad. This can be attributed to obviously the big three in Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. These three are the reason Melbourne will finish with the minor premiership this season. No stats are needed, their class alone and the club’s ability to adapt to Craig Bellamy’s game plans quickly is the reason while you’ll see the Melbourne Storm perched on top of the table come the final whistle of round 26.

Signings: Junior Sau (Knights), Junior Moors (Tigers), Lagi Setu (Broncos), Brett Finch (Wigan), Tim Glasby (Central Queensland Capras), Kurt Mann (Knights)

Departures: Brayden Wiliame (Eels), Dane Nielsen (Warriors), Sika Manu (Panthers), Luke Kelly (Eels, mid-season),  Richie Fa’aoso (Sea Eagles), Rory Kostjasyn (Cowboys), Todd Lowrie (Warriors), Michael Greenfield (Retired), Jaiman Lowe (Retired), Anthony Quinn (Knights), Shea Moylan (Wynnum-Manly)

Key to Success:

When you hear the words “The Big Three” (pictured right) in Rugby League circles you automatically think of three men. Whether for Australia, QLD or Melbourne: Slater, Smith and Cronk are essential. When together on the paddock last season they won 90.5% of their games for Melbourne, contributing 28 tries and 65 try-assists. Without one of them on the field the whole team struggles. For the Storm to become the first team to go back-to-back for first time since 1993, they need this trio to be fit, firing and healthy for the seasons entire.

Player to Watch:

Not much was known about young back-rower Tohu Harris. A graduate of the Melbourne under 20’s competition, Harris (pictured left) strapped on the boots last week at Headingly to take down the Leeds Rhinos in the World Club Challenge, scoring a brilliant try in the process. Named to start for the Melbourne this week against the Dragons, most NRL fans will get their first proper look at Harris. Soon enough it will be known how much of an impact Harris will make in the NRL this season. Watch this space.

Erratic Eddy says:

“Eddy can’t stand Melbourne. Too many Queenslanders, however, if the Storm is to go back-to-back then Eddy won’t help but feel happy for veteran Jason Ryles. The former NSW and Australian representative missed out on the grand final last year. Let’s hope he can finally win that elusive premiership ring he’s been busting his arse for since the ‘choking’ era of the Dragons.”

Strongest 17: 1- Billy Slater 2- Matthew Duffie 3- Gareth Widdop 4-Will Chambers 5- Sisa Waqa 6- Brett Finch 7- Cooper Cronk 8-Jesse Bromwich 9- Cameron Smith (C) 10- Bryan Norrie 11- Ryan Hoffman 12-Tohu Harris 13- Ryan Hinchcliffe Interchange: 14- Kevin Proctor 15- Jason Ryles 16- Lagi Setu 17- Junior Moors 18th Man: Justin O’Neill.

Predicted Position: 1st

…and the clock has hit zero. The off-season is done for another year. The unpredictability of the NRL will leave fans guessing all year. Over the course of writing these previews the Ben Barba scandal has come to fruition and only today have ASADA seized control of the Cronulla Sharks 2013 fortunes with rumours rife that up to 14 players could be facing two-year suspensions. Rugby league is a controversial game and don’t we love it. Come that first whistle, all will be forgotten, everything will be on the line. The footy is back baby. Get Keen!

2013 NRL Season Preview: South Sydney Rabbitohs

By Brady Foray Writers

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have made the finals 49 times. They have won 20 premierships out of 33 grand final appearances. Last season was the first time Souths have made the semis since 2007. Before that, they hadn’t made the finals since their 1989 minor premiership success.

2012 was a turning point in the history of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and if it wasn’t for a torn hamstring to influential halfback Adam Reynolds in the first half of their preliminary final loss to the Bulldogs last season, the South Sydney Rabbitohs could’ve made it grand final number 34.

Under the tutelage of Michael McGuire, the Rabbitohs had their best season in decades, this including a six-game winning streak between Rounds 17 & 22. Souths would manage to win 17 of their 27 games last year. While the club have lost cruicial forwards Dave Taylor (Titans), Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers) and Scott Geddes (retired), the club have managed to entice Jeff Lima, Ben Te’o and Thomas Burgess to replace them. Beau Champion and Bryson Goodwin have also come to Redfern in hope of busting into an already explosive backline. It’s going to be a massive year for the Rabbitohs.

Signings: Jeff Lima (Wigan), Ben Te’o (Broncos), Mitchell Bucket (Sunshine Coast), Thomas Burgess (Bradford), Bryson Goodwin (Bulldogs), Beau Champion (Titans)

Departures: Eddy Pettybourne (Tigers), Dave Taylor (Titans), Scott Geddes (retired), James Roberts (Panthers), Adrian Ha’angana (Rugby Union), Fetuli Talanoa, Ryan Carr, Neccrom Areaiiti, Blake Judd, Brendan McKinnon, Curtis Johnston (all released)

Key to Success:

On first count, the South Sydney Rabbitohs first grade squad contains a minimum of seven internationals. None of these men are the key to the success that the Rabbitohs season hinges on. The man the club’s premiership hopes lay on is one with 27 games to his name, halfback Reynolds. 22-year-old Reynolds will look at season 2013 to dispel himself of any second-year-syndrome speculation and build on what the Bunnies started last year. The Indigenous All-Star representative managed 17 try assists last season while also contributing 208 points himself to the Rabbitohs’ cause.

Player to Watch:

Jeff Lima has done a lot in a short amount of time. Even before playing his 100th NRL game, Lima has won two NRL premierships with Melbourne, a Challenge Cup with the Wigan Warriors, the Brent Todd medal for Man of the Match in the same Challenge Cup final and six Tests for New Zealand. Lima returns to the NRL this season to reunite with his former Wigan mentor Michael McGuire at South Sydney. Look for Lima to add an abundance of grunt to an already brilliant forward pack. Lima is a brilliant pick-up for the Bunnies as they look to win the premiership for the first time in over forty years.

Erratic Eddy says:

“I wonder if Tom and George Burgess can even play footy or they’re just here to keep Sam Burgess happy. Having all four brothers at the club, while nice for family morale, may not be the smartest move when it comes to retaining up-and-coming talent. Time will tell.”

Strongest 17: 1- Greg Inglis 2- Nathan Merritt 3- Matt King 4- Beau Champion 5- Andrew Everingham 6- John Sutton 7- Adam Reynolds 8- Roy Asotasi 9- Issac Luke 10- Sam Burgess 11- Chris McQueen 12- Ben Te’o 13- Michael Crocker (C) Interchange: 14- Nathan Peats 15- Jason Clark 16- Luke Burgess 17- Jeff Lima 18th Man: Ben Lowe.

Predicted Position: 2nd

2013 NRL Season Preview: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

By Brady Foray Writers

Des Hasler came to the Bulldogs last season in controversial circumstances but nonetheless with a plan. He might have put the “I’m here to make the club competitive” shield up but behind the scenes he was working tirelessly, trying to crack the code behind the Bulldogs’ premiership hopes.

He almost succeeded. The Bulldogs came agonising close, winning the minor-premiership in the process, before going down 14-4 in the grand final to Melbourne.

The club managed to win five from 10 in the opening stages of the competition but wouldn’t lose again until Round 25.

The old saying: You have to lose one to win one has never rang truer for the Bulldogs this season. Though with James Graham suspended until Round 10 and Ben Barba out for an indefinite amount of time; the beginning of 2013 could be rocky for the Bulldogs.

The loss of the Dogs’ two main stars of last season may be lessened with the emergence of a T-Rex stomping around out Belmore way. Tony Williams could be just the man to solidify the Dogs another premiership. The Dogs could be just what the doctor ordered for Williams as he looks to maintain much-needed consistency – something the Origin and Australian representative has never quite been able to manage throughout his career.

Signings: Tony Williams (Manly) (pictured left)

Departures: Bryson Goodwin (Rabbitohs), David Stagg (Broncos), James Gavet (Tigers), Luke MacDougall (retired), Sione Kite (Widnes, mid-season), Jonathan Wright (Sharks), Jake Foster (Raiders), Michael Lett (Illawarra Cutters, mid-season), Tupou Sopoaga (Sharks), Corey Payne (retired)

Key to Success:

22 tries, 23 try assists, 122.6 metres averaged per game, 27 line-breaks and 171 tackle-breaks. Maybe now, for those who may struggle (for whatever stupid reason they hold) with the concept of Barba being the 2012 Dally M Player of the Year will realise how influential the man can be. While he is on ice at the moment, dealing with his off-field demons, Barba is the most influential man on the paddock and the obvious key to success for the Bulldogs this season. Let us hope he gets back on the field sooner rather than later, for the sake of the Bulldogs and NRL fans alike.

Player to Watch:

At 19 years old, he still has one more year of Under 20s but how much time he will see of the Holden Cup this season is yet to be determined. First grade beckons for boom prop David Klemmer. Judged as the Toyota Cup Player of the Year last season, Klemmer (pictured right), an already accomplished NSW and Australian representative schoolboy, will look to fill the breach left by suspended James Graham and injured Sam Kasiano. Remember the name.

Erratic Eddy says:

“What do you get when you combine Cranky Franky and T-Rex in the back-row? A sore everything. That’s what every single NRL player will saying when they go toe-to-toe with this destructive duo. Get the ice ready…lots of it.”

“It is nice to see that loyalty is still strong in the younger generations. David Klemmer, a superstar in the making was having the dollars thrown at him by the Knights but low and behold Klemmer stuck strong and has all but re-signed with the Doggies. Congratulations, David.”

Strongest 17: 1- Ben Barba 2- Steve Turner 3-Josh Morris 4- Krisnan Inu 5- Sam Perrett 6- Josh Reynolds 7- Kris Keating 8- Aiden Tolman 9- Michael Ennis (C) 10- Sam Kasiano 11- Frank Pritchard 12-Tony Williams 13- Greg Eastwood Interchange: 14- James Graham 15- Josh Jackson 16- Dale Finucane 17- Dene Halatau 18th Man: David Klemmer.

Predicted Position: 3rd*

*Established before Ben Barba’s suspension. Too hard to change and re-establish new positions