I have come to the conclusion that if you want to be serious about
tipping a grand final winner – in any code – then it’s wise not to read
or watch any of the grand final week media “hype.” This grand final week has been a replica of AFL grand
final week last week, or any previous NRL grand final week – full of
distractions and beat-ups that will have zero impact on the grand final
outcome.

Take this for a small sample – a claim that Cowboys
supporters will be banned from wearing their 20 gallon hats at Telstra Stadium
(since denied); a clandestine meeting between Tigers coach Tim Sheens, and
referee Tim Mander (so clandestine today’s media had a
picture of the meeting at yesterday’s grand final
breakfast); complaints by both coaches over the tackling/playing style of their
opponents; talk of the referee being put under too much pressure; the Tigers Pat
Richards was almost lost to cricket (10 years ago)… the list is almost
endless.

And then there was the greatest distraction of all when
the NRL CEO, David Gallop, on a brief visit to Brisbane, said that Brisbane’s Lang Park might host an NRL grand final in the
future. That was a distraction – and an absolutely porky. Mark Latham has more
chance of dining at Kirribilli House with the Howard’s than that has of
happening.

The reality is that this is a grand final harder to
predict than most. Grand finals are generally played between teams that we
expected to make them, and have some “history” in them. When the season proper ended five weeks ago, few would
have predicted that either the Tigers or the Cowboys would be playing in
Sunday’s nights grand final, let alone both of them.

Like some of the coaches I am going to sit on the
sidelines – because I genuinely don’t care which team wins. All I know is that
rugby league will be the winner, and that will do me anytime.

Read more on the website here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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