As rugby league matches go these days, Saturday night’s encounter between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis was a bruising encounter but, when compared to Test matches of the past, it was nowhere near the “brutal” encounter some of the Kangaroos have claimed since.

The shoulder charge on Willie Mason by David Kidwell was spectacular, and there was some old fashioned head-hunting from the Kiwis, but when you have so-called “neutral” referees, and a judiciary system that lets everyone start with a clean record, that is to be expected.

The final score, 30-18 in favour of the Kangaroos, probably flatters the Kiwis. The Australian backline – as good as any in the last decade or more – was just too classy.

The big winners from the Kangaroos victory were actually the selectors. A couple of controversial selections – such as Karmichael Hunt at full-back and Johnathan Thurston at half-back – justified the selectors’ faith in spades.

If anyone doubted why Channel Nine delayed the telecast, then the proliferation of ads every five minutes or so provided the answer. A game that ran for around 90 minutes took well over two hours to replay!

And Channel Nine and its free-to-air counterparts have the hide to be running an advertising campaign appealing for viewers to support their campaign to save them from losing major sport to pay television!

The return match in Melbourne this Saturday night will be shown live in New South Wales and Queensland. Eddie McGuire has again “rewarded” Melbourne viewers for their extraordinary support of the grand final by scheduling it for 11.45 on Saturday night!

But the best news of the weekend was the induction of the finest rugby league broadcaster ever, Frank Hyde, into the radio industry’s Hall of Fame.

Frank Hyde broadcast rugby league on radio 2SM from 1953 until 1986. In his 33-year, unbroken broadcasting career, Hyde never lost the ratings once – and that was in an era when up to four stations broadcast rugby league matches on Sydney radio.

There will always be debate about the “best team” or “best player”, but when it comes to the “best broadcaster”, there is no debate whatsoever.

Peter Fray

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