Seven Days: a different take on a week in rugby league

NIGHT OF KNIGHTS: Danny Levi and Jacob Saifiti with their respective partners. Mitch Barnett receives the Danny Buderus Medal. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers.

NIGHT OF KNIGHTS: Danny Levi and Jacob Saifiti with their respective partners. Mitch Barnett receives the Danny Buderus Medal. Pictures: Max Mason-Hubers.

THURSDAY

A text message arrives from regular Seven Days scribe Robert Dillon: ‘Hi mate, I see Dane Tilse has extended his comeback for the Knights reggies by a week. Any chance you could go around again?’ Deadset, you could write a book in the time Dillo’s had off.

I dust off the “bowl of fruit” for the Knights’ awards ceremony at the Workers Club. The old girl has certainly undergone a bit of work since I last threw on a Lacoste polo shirt and headed to the World’s Biggest Disco.

There is nothing 90’s about the fashion on show tonight. Danny Levi, sporting a Forrest Gump-inspired short-sleeve shirt, bow tie and matching braces gets the nod in the fashions of the field from Jacob Saifiti and his off-white smoking jacket.

Mitch Barnett claims the biggest prize. The no-nonsense back-rower arrives wondering whether he would get the chicken or the beef and leaves with the Danny Buderus medal around his neck. Overwhelmed, Barney can’t recall a better moment since the day he was named best forward for the Wingham Tigers under-14s.

A wag at the media table suggests a compulsory “sip” every time a player on stage mentions “the boyz”.

FRIDAY

I wake with a hangover only Henny Penny chips and gravy can cure. A “thanks boyz” text to fellow hacks confirms I’m not alone.

The Doggies also host their end-of-year get together where top dog Ray Dibbs lets it slip that British Bulldog James Graham offered to take a $100k pay cut to keep that yappy Jack Russell Terrier Josh Reynolds in the kennel. I can’t get my colleagues to stump up for a can of diet coke.

Finally, finals time. There is a sea of empty blue chairs at the Footy Stadium for the clash between Wayne’s Broncs and the Chooks.

Meanwhile, in bleak city, the AFL’s corresponding game between the Richmond Tigers and some mob called Geelong attracts 95,000 close friends and family to a cricket ground.

Adam Blair must have already clocked on at the Once Weres and misses a tackle on future Knight Adian Guerra for the opening meat pie as the Chooks jump out to a commanding lead. Enter Blake Ferguson. Fergie thinks he is back on the rooftop with Duges and a Baccardi Breezer is about to roll off the gutter. Instincts take over and he flicks a 40-20 kick infield into the arms of Corey Oates to give the visitor’s a 22-18 lead. Greg Inglis then turns back the clock with a trademark try to save the blushes of Ferguson. Oh, it's not GI. Sure looks like him. Apparently this kid is from the NSW mid-north coast and played junior footy for the Taree Red Rovers, which according to his Wikipedia entry is one of the great junior Queensland rugby league clubs.

SATURDAY

“Here come the Tigers wearing black and gold” ... Bleak City is gushing over the mighty Tig Togs and some bloke named Dusty who has more ink than Office Works. Apparently the win is the Tige’s first over Geelong in 4122 days. Seven days earlier, the mighty Aberdeen Tigers upset Muswellbrook to win the Group 21 title. On Sunday the Oberon Tigers take on Orange CYMS in the group 11 decider, and down the Mitchell Highway the Nyngan Tigers have a date with Dubbo CYMS, which in case you were wondering stands for Catholic Young Men’s Society. True story.

At AAMI Park, Cameron Smith lines up for game No.356 without a fibre of strapping tape to be seen. Smith makes a game-high 42 tackles, plays a hand in a couple of tries and blows the whistle for five penalties as the Storm get home 18-16. Slipperies coach Brad Arthur fumes at the inconsistencies of the refs, Smith aside. His tirade is mild mannered compared to the scathing attack by Manly coach Trent Barrett after a couple of dodgy calls in a 22-10 loss to the Pennies ends their campaign. “Unbelievable. It’s cost us our year,” Barrett says of a non-knock-on call against Tyrone Peachey. I prefer Toovs version of a blast: “C’mon. C’mon, that’s ridiculous. There’s got to be an investigation into this. Someone has to be accountable for this.”

SUNDAY

Hard luck stories as the Nyngan and Oberon Tigers go down to CYMS, who are both known as the Fish-eaters. True story.

Back to the NRL finals, I mean the refs. Sharks coach Shane Flanagan arrives at the witch hunt, sorry post-match press conference, with a list of 10 howlers the refs made in the premiers’15-14 loss to the Cows. Conveniently, he forgets to note the Sharks’ 37 missed tackles and 17 errors.

MONDAY

Breaking news: Yours truly is the only Herald tipster to correctly predict the four winning teams in the opening weekend of the finals. What! They don't count scores in the finals. “C’mon. C’mon that’s ridiculous.”

Kaching - that’s the noise of the cash register at League Central. Todd Greenberg says I’ll take the coaches’ spray and raise it $50k. Flano will be wearing them after being stung $30k. Baz receives a $20k haircut. That puts a dampener on Mad Monday.

TUESDAY

Pom-poms at 10 paces. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. Manly boss Scott “Parker” Penn questions why Penrith’s cheerleaders the Pantherettes, who are the best  in the business, were allowed to perform at the Sea Eagles’ “home game” on Saturday at the Footy Stadium. Not surprisingly Panther’s CEO Brian Fletcher jumps to the defence of the Pantherettes. I’m with Fletch. Matter of fact, my eldest son is having his eighth birthday party next month. He wants me to hire a magician. Anyone got Gus’s number.

WEDNESDAY

Farewell to Herald colleague and fellow Tiger Mickey McGowan who is off to the bright lights of Sydney and some global gossip rag called The Guardian. I suggest Leichhardt as a new home, but he has lined up a place in Newtown Jets territory in Erskineville. At least he is not headed to Bondi or Belmore like the other gun Tig Togs.