Robert Dillon: Seven Days in League

Thursday

THE 2018 NRL campaign has not even kicked off and Seven Days is facing the first moral dilemma of the season. 

TRUE COLOURS: As this 1987 artwork shows, the Newcastle Knights should have gold numbers on their jerseys, not white.

TRUE COLOURS: As this 1987 artwork shows, the Newcastle Knights should have gold numbers on their jerseys, not white.

Somehow, in among the flurry of late entries, Herald colleague Josh Callinan has been overlooked for the League HQ experts’ tipping panel.

It’s an inexplicable omission that is known in the trade as a “production error” (ie stuff-up).

There is fierce debate about whether Josh, who submitted his tips on time (and subsequently proceeds to score three out of eight in round one), should be a belated inclusion.

But that would create an odd number of tipsters, meaning someone else would have to be culled.

The obvious candidate is the Underdog, until it’s pointed out the Bassett hound is man’s best friend, has a cult following ... and will in all likelihood save someone else from the ignominy of running last.

Josh resolves the quandary by volunteering to take a bullet for the team. The Underdog lives to fight another day.

On the subject of moral dilemmas, the NRL’s former New York ambassador, Broncos prop Matthew Lodge, makes his comeback after a three-year sabbatical.

Leading up to the game, Lodge conducts an exclusive interview with Herald tipping panel star Yvonne Sampson, in which he says of his much-publicised night of mayhem in the Big Apple: “I don’t remember the night and I can’t comment on how it happened or why.”

But then he adds: “Some of those facts I wouldn’t agree with and didn’t happen.’’ After his performance against the Dragons, some of that selective amnesia might come in handy.

Friday

IT’S a deadset debutants’ ball at McDonald Jones Stadium as nine new recruits help the Knights to a thrilling 19-18 win against the dirty, rotten Silvertails, sealed with a Mitchell Pearce field goal in golden point.

Meanwhile, in the press box, there is another newbie in Barry Toohey, who is covering his first live match since signing with the Newcastle Herald.

As expected, Baz handles the assignment with a minimum of fuss, like the proven big-game performer he has been for many years in previous incarnations.

It’s a special night for the 23,516-strong crowd but this columnist reckons there was one thing missing.

The Knights wear their original “Henny Penny” style jerseys, which look sensational, but the numbers on the back are white instead of gold.

As the above artwork from our archives, circa 1987, shows, the Knights’ official colours are blue and red, with gold numbers.

Bring back the gold, I say.

Saturday  

THE Tigers beat the Roosters 10-8 and everyone is banging on about the result being a monumental upset, but it doesn’t surprise Seven Days one bit.

I mean, what chance were the Chooks? All their best players jumped ship to Newcastle at the end of last season.

At the fancy-pants new stadium in Perth, the Warriors produce an eye-catching display with an encouraging win against the Bunnies.

It’s not just the clinical brand of footy they produce that attracts attention. There hasn’t been so much long, flowing hair seen on the same paddock since Woodstock.

Sunday 

CONTINUING the focus on hairstyles, what about Darren Lockyer’s new “do”.

The former Kangaroos skipper went bald gracefully about a decade ago, but suddenly he’s back on Channel Nine with what looks suspiciously like a re-thatched melon.

It’s the greatest comeback since Ricky Ponting turned up for a new cricket season a few years back with what appeared to be Astroturf on the practice fairway.

Given that Locky hasn’t announced a deal to spruik Advanced Hair Studios with Mo Matthews and Warney, presumably he’s hoping nobody will notice.

Anyway, I reckon it looks fantastic and it would be nice to think his long-time mentor, supercoach Wayne Bennett, might consider a similar makeover before his off-season nuptials.

Meanwhile, home-grown Novocastrian Garth Brennan makes his debut as an NRL head coach as the Titans down the Raiders 30-28 in a thriller.

It’s not looking good for Brenno with his team down 18-0 after about 10 minutes. But we soon discover it’s all part of the game plan.

The Faiders are lured into a false sense of security and the Titans finish all over the top of them.

Hopefully it’s the first masterstroke of what will be a long and illustrious career for our Garth.

Monday

The NRL issues a “concerning act” warning to Titans co-captain Kevin Proctor after his alleged “squirrel grip” on Canberra winger Jordan Rapana.

How embarrassing.

In the good old days, the appropriate response to a squirrel grip was a good, solid punch in the head.

These days players can’t punch, and squirrel grippers don’t even get suspended.

The game’s become so soft it might as well be AFL.

Tuesday

MASTER coach Bennett is reported to have directed an expletive-laden spray at star playmaker Anthony Milford during training, right in front of media representatives.

It could be a long season for the Broncos. Here’s hoping.

Wednesday

NEW ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie is blindsided by a tough question in an interview with Channel Nine’s Phil Gould: “Are the team from the Sutherland Shire known as the Hawks, the Seagulls or the Sharks?”

“To be honest, I wouldn’t have a bloody clue, but I’ll know next week,” Beattie replies with a laugh.

“It’s got to be Cronulla of some kind. It’s too bloody hard, Gus. That’s too difficult.”

It’s reassuring to know that the game is in such safe hands, and that Beattie is well qualified to follow in the footsteps of men like Dave Smith and John Grant.

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